Assevent National Cemetery

Assevent military cemetery. Source: Ville d’Assevent


Click here to view the cemetery’s information panel vignette Assevent

Maubeuge, located at the intersection of railway lines that, coming from Brussels and Liège, converge towards Paris – was a major strategic goal for both the French and the Germans.

In accordance with the Schlieffen plan, German troops entered Belgium on 4 August 1914, and Maubeuge was on their way there. On 29 August, the Germans set off a powerful bombardment. After eight days of siege, Maubeuge was still resisting, but the situation turned highly critical from 6 September. On 7 September, General Fournier, the Governor of Maubeuge, had to capitulate. The Germans took 450,000 prisoners and 450 guns and 80,000 shells.

During the war, Maubeuge was controlled by the German military administration in occupied Belgium. It was only released on 9 November 1918 by British troops.

The Assevent National Cemetery, located 5km from Maubeuge, is home to the bodies of soldiers who died for France during the Siege of Maubeuge in August 1914.

Established in 1916 by the German army, the cemetery was redeveloped in 1923 to gather the bodies of other soldiers killed during the battle that were exhumed from temporary cemeteries in the Nord department or from Ypres in Belgium. The cemetery holds 1,819 bodies, including 364 in individual graves and 990 in four ossuaries, which is likely to include a large number of Moroccan infantrymen. There is a German military cemetery on the other side of the railway line. It was built in 1924 and comprises of 998 bodies of soldiers who fell in September 1914 around ​​Meaux (Seine-et-Marne).

The Assevent National Cemetery was established by the Germans during the war and seems to reconcile German, French, Russian and British soldiers in death.

  • Assevent military cemetery. Source: Ville d’Assevent

  • Assevent military cemetery. Source: Ville d’Assevent

  • The French burial plot. Source: Ville de Maubeuge. Photo: SESMA

  • The cemetery was officially opened on 20 October 1916, by Abbé Wattiez, for the French delegation, and the Princess of Saxe-Meiningen, sister of the German Emperor. Source: Ville de Maubeuge. Photo: SESMA

  • The French cemetery after the war. The workmen, many of them veterans, maintain the French graves. To the right of the central avenue is a line of wooden crosses marking the resting places of the French soldiers; to the left are the German graves, topped with uniform stone slabs. In the background stands the memorial, like a small Greek temple. Source: Ville de Maubeuge. Photo: SESMA


  • The German plot just after the First World War. Source: Ville de Maubeuge. Photo: SESMA

  • An engraving of the memorial. Source: L’Écho de Maubeuge, the Maubeuge archives.

  • A press cutting showing the German plot. Source: Von Zwehl

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