Vauquois Hill is labeled by the French State as a World War One historical monument.
The site comprises several places of interest:
- - a unique panorama (elevation: 290m), overlooking the Argonne area, with views to the Douaumont Ossuary monument in Verdun (36 km Eastward),
- - the vestige of 1914-18 battles, such as the huge mine craters, trenches lines, bunkers,
- - the Memorial to the combatants of Vauquois,
- - the museum,
- - French and German surface trenches and especially underground networks, renovated and maintained in their original condition,
- - the permanent free exhibition on concrete field works,
- - “la Maize” French military cemetery (4368 bodies) is permanently accessible, South of the new village.
Vauquois craters, looking to the East (© Amis de Vauquois).
A kitchen in a German gallery under Vauquois (© Amis de Vauquois).
For many years, the hill was almost abandoned, except for an access to the Memorial to the Combatants and areas neighboring the new village. As time went on, the big craters were filled with bushes and the forest grew on both sides, hiding trenches and gallery accesses.
Then, some veterans who had fought on the hill came back, like retired teacher and 77-years-old Hilarion Platz. Each year from 1964, he stayed during 3 months maintaining the vestige, clearing the bushes and guiding visitors around the craters. The French Army gave some valuable support from 1972, committing companies of conscripts and engineer experts. Among other people who gave a critical support to save Vauquois Hill from oblivion, Reverend Bernard Koch, from the Metz Seminary, spent all his free time reading diaries of combatants, consulting Army archives and exploring the galleries. Rev Koch and other local determined passionate people, such as M. Lefin and M. Parent, dedicated their week-ends mapping the networks and guiding visitors.
In early 1979, the State agreed to authorize an association to rehabilitate and secure 200 meters of underground galleries, so that at least a small portion of the fabulous underground city could be open to public visit.
The association “Friends of Vauquois and its area” (Les Amis de Vauquois et de sa Région)
The Association was created On Nov 11, 1985.
Its motto is : TO KNOW AND LET KNOW.
In January 1988, an agreement between the French State (owner of the hill) and the Association was signed, with the aim to preserve the site and promote the memory of all the combatants who fought, suffered and, for so many, rest in the area of Vauquois.
Active members of the Association are dispatched in 2 teams :
- - the guides’ team, which conducts tours with visitors;
- - the works team, which meets every other Saturday to maintain, renovate and up-grade the site.
The Vauquois Hill battlefield has remained intact since 1918. It is studied and maintained by the volunteers of the Association, with the support of the Meuse Prefecture, the Meuse Regional Council, the municipalities of Vauquois and Clermont-en-Argonne, as well as other associations such as the “Souvenir Français”.
Members’ contribution includes membership, insurance and the reception of 3 magazines a year.
New members will receive the association membership badge. Yearly contribution is validated with a stamp.
Members with validated contribution have free access to the underground networks and free participation to study outings.
Download Membership form here.