Verdun (town, France)
Verdun (vĕrdŭn´, Fr. vĕrdöN´), town (1990 pop. 23,427), Meuse dept., NE France, in Lorraine, on the Meuse River. A strategic transportation center, Verdun has varied industries and is situated in an agricultural region. The town was a prosperous commercial center in Roman times and also during the Carolingian period in the 800s. An episcopal see since the 4th cent., Verdun, with its surrounding area, was one of the three bishoprics (with Metz and Toul) seized (1552) by Henry II of France from the Holy Roman Empire. The town itself was a free imperial city before it passed to France. The Peace of Westphalia (1648), ending the Thirty Years War, confirmed Verdun in French possession. Fortified by Sébastien Vauban during the reign of Louis XIV, Verdun thereafter became important strategically. After 1871 the town became the principal French fortress facing Germany and was surrounded by a ring of defenses. The longest battle of World War I was fought at Verdun in 1916 (see Verdun, battle of). In 1918 the Americans and French were victorious in the Verdun sector and at Saint-Mihiel. Almost totally destroyed, Verdun was rebuilt after the war. The town and the battlefield of Verdun, with their huge military cemeteries and numerous impressive monuments, form a national sanctuary. Other points of interest are the cathedral (11th–12th cent.) and the town hall (17th cent.), which is now a war museum.
VERDUN , town in the department of Meuse, E. France. During the ninth and tenth centuries it was a stronghold and a station on the trading route of slaves captured in Germany or England and who were sold in Spain. According to Christian sources, merchants engaged in this trade were Jews, but from Hebrew sources this appears to be doubtful. On the other hand, the latter mention the tosafists of Verdun, Samuel b. Ḥayyim, a disciple of Jacob b. Meir Tam (Rabbenu Tam), Samuel b. Joseph the Younger (Ha-Baḥur), and his brother Jacob. Later the Jews were no longer authorized to live in Verdun and in the bishopric, and it was in vain that the town appealed to the Council of *Basle, in 1434, for the right to admit them temporarily. During the 18th century some Jews of *Metz unsuccessfully attempted to obtain this same right (in 1710, 1748) and others, who had illegally settled there, were expelled (1752, 1774). The community, which was founded at the time of the Revolution, was affiliated with the consistory of *Nancy in 1808. At first it rapidly increased in numbers, reaching 217 Jews in 1806. From then until the 20th century its size was more or less constant. In 1970 there were about 80 Jews in the town. At Douaumont there is a monument to the 10,000 French Jews who fell between 1914 and 1918. Desecrated by the Nazis, it was restored in 1959.
B. Blumenkranz, Juifs et chrétiens dans le Monde Occidental (1960), 13; C. Verlinden, in: Mélanges Félix Rousseau (1958), 673; Gross, Gal Jud, 205–7; G. Weill, in: rej, 125 (1966), 297–8.