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Hartmannswillerkopf, also known as the Vieil Armand, used to be a peaceful mountain in the Vosges massif, before becoming a horrific battle field during the First World War and the scene of a long and bloody battle that claimed the lives of tens of thousands of soldiers.

A long and bloody battle

The Hartmannswillerkopf is a rocky overhang in the Vosges massif, which occupies a strategic position and offers a choice observation point over the plain of Alsace. The battle of Hartmannswillerkopf, between German and French armed forces, took place there during the First World War, from January 1915 to January 1916. Although on a secondary front, the extremely fierce fighting and harsh climate of the Vosges have made this battle terrifying and exhausting, akin to those of the Marne, Meuse and Somme. The exact number of victims of the Hartmannswillerkopf battle is unknown. It is thought that tens of thousands of deaths occured on both sides. These soldiers fought for an insignificant military outcome and are buried in surrounding French and German military cemeteries. The mountain is sometimes nicknamed the "Man-Eater" or the "Mountain of Death", and rightly so...