Zone rouge

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For other uses, see Red Zone (disambiguation).

Coordinates: 50°22′N 2°48′E / 50.36°N 2.80°E / 50.36; 2.80

Map showing totally destroyed areas in red, areas of major damage in yellow and moderately damaged areas in green
A German trench and Delville Wood, near Longueval (Somme), that were destroyed in 1916 in the Red Zone
Verdun battlefield today (2005)

Zone rouge (English: Red Zone) are a chain of non-contiguous areas throughout northeastern France that the French government isolated after the First World War. The land, which originally covered more than 1,200 square kilometres (460 sq mi), was deemed to be too physically and environmentally damaged by the conflict for human habitation. Rather than attempt to clean up the former battlefields, the land was allowed to return to nature. Restrictions within zone rouge still exist today although the control areas have been greatly reduced.

Under French law, activities such as housing, farming or forestry, were temporarily or permanently forbidden in the zone rouge. This was because of the vast amounts of human and animal remains and millions of unexploded ordnance contaminating the land. Some towns and villages were never permitted to be rebuilt after the war.

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  • Smith, Corinna Haven & Hill, Caroline R. Rising Above the Ruins in France: An Account of the Progress Made Since the Armistice in the Devastated Regions in Re-establishing Industrial Activities and the Normal Life of the People. New York: GP Putnam's Sons, 1920: 6.
  • De Sousa David, La Reconstruction et sa Mémoire dans les villages de la Somme 1918-1932, Editions La vague verte, 2002, 212 pages
  • Bonnard Jean-Yves, La reconstitution des terres de l'Oise après la Grande Guerre: les bases d'une nouvelle géographie du foncier, in Annales Historiques Compiégnoises 113-114, p.25-36, 2009.
  • Parent G.-H., 2004. Trois études sur la Zone Rouge de Verdun, une zone totalement sinistrée I.L’herpétofaune - II.La diversité floristique - III.Les sites d‘intérêt botanique et zoologique à protéger prioritairement. Ferrantia, 288 pages

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