300,000 men lost their lives at Verdun in World War I, and a total of 600,000 casualties were incurred by both sides. Why Verdun? The German high command felt they could pin the French against the river and surround them on 3 sides with the river to their backs. The batle lasted 10 months - from February 1916 until November 1916. It took until 1918, when American forces joined the war, to clear all German presence from the area.