Quotations from that time
"The citadel of Verdun is not anymore the one of Jean Errard and Vauban rising on a rocky steep slope of the left bank of the Meuse; it is rather more than that. A subterranean city, 19 metres under the superstructure, with all the modern convenience (electric lighting, central heating, first class airing). Imagine on a space approximately equivalent to the one of the Place de la Concorde (700 times 800 metres) the tunnels of the Metro protected against 420mm and 380mm shells by several metres thick masonry linked by 7 kilometres of tunnels in all directions."
(Dodu, Gaston, 1918, A visit to Verdun in 1918)
"(…) When I finally arrived in the citadel a bit of emotion troubles its subterranean tunnels. Three companies will be sent back to Froideterre this night. It seems that things turn bad up there! The thought of going back there fills nobody with enthusiasm. The troops are taciturn. There is exhaustion in their eyes…"
(Abbé Thellier de Poncheville, 1924, Ten months in Verdun)
"(…) We arrive at the citadel (…). Shells fall on Verdun; they let us in right away, as the Germans fire on the entrance sometimes. They take us to the cells which we will occupy in the casemate which serves as a dormitory for the officers. We are separated by plank partitions. The bed is a plank with two small mattresses and two blankets; just like in a cabin. A basin, a pitcher, a bucket, three hooks, a plank. They had the consideration to hang up a crucifix."
(The books of cardinal Alfred Baudrillart, 1st August 1914 – 31st December 1918)
"You must know that the citadel of Verdun is able to meet all its thousands of needs by itself. It is a miracle that they have resolved the whole complex existential and defensive problem in its most various forms. Here, the isolation and its constant companion, the boredom, are challenged. The unbearable “depressions” are successfully fought against with theatre performances and small concerts given in the casemate. The original auditorium does not lack of neither actors nor spectators, all temporary guests, soldiers who will face the fire from the enemy tomorrow, the smile on their lips, trusting in the triumph of our weapons."
(Ernest Beauguitte, note “Verdun en 1917”, in Verdun the day before the war)