Maginot Line

Maginot Line

Overview
The Maginot Line named after the French Minister of War
Minister of Defence (France)
The Minister of Defense and Veterans Affairs is the French government cabinet member charged with running the military of France....

 André Maginot
André Maginot
André Maginot was a French civil servant, soldier, and Member of Parliament. He is undoubtedly best known for his advocacy for the string of forts that would be known as the Maginot Line.- Early years, to World War I :...

, was a line of concrete fortification
Fortification
Fortifications are military constructions and buildings designed for defence in warfare and military bases. Humans have constructed defensive works for many thousands of years, in a variety of increasingly complex designs...

s, tank obstacles, artillery casemate
Casemate
A casemate, sometimes rendered casement, is a fortified gun emplacement or armored structure from which guns are fired. originally a vaulted chamber in a fortress.-Origin of the term:...

s, machine gun posts, and other defences, which France
France
The French Republic , The French Republic , The French Republic , (commonly known as France , is a unitary semi-presidential republic in Western Europe with several overseas territories and islands located on other continents and in the Indian, Pacific, and Atlantic oceans. Metropolitan France...

 constructed along its borders with Germany and Italy, in light of its experience in World War I
World War I
World War I , which was predominantly called the World War or the Great War from its occurrence until 1939, and the First World War or World War I thereafter, was a major war centred in Europe that began on 28 July 1914 and lasted until 11 November 1918...

, and in the run-up to World War II
World War II
World War II, or the Second World War , was a global conflict lasting from 1939 to 1945, involving most of the world's nations—including all of the great powers—eventually forming two opposing military alliances: the Allies and the Axis...

. Generally the term describes only the defences facing Germany, while the term Alpine Line
Alpine Line
The Alpine Line or Little Maginot Line was the component of the Maginot Line that defended the southeastern portion of France...

 is used for the Franco-Italian defences.

The French established the fortification to provide time for their army to mobilise in the event of attack, allowing French forces to move into Belgium for a decisive confrontation with German forces.
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Encyclopedia
The Maginot Line named after the French Minister of War
Minister of Defence (France)
The Minister of Defense and Veterans Affairs is the French government cabinet member charged with running the military of France....

 André Maginot
André Maginot
André Maginot was a French civil servant, soldier, and Member of Parliament. He is undoubtedly best known for his advocacy for the string of forts that would be known as the Maginot Line.- Early years, to World War I :...

, was a line of concrete fortification
Fortification
Fortifications are military constructions and buildings designed for defence in warfare and military bases. Humans have constructed defensive works for many thousands of years, in a variety of increasingly complex designs...

s, tank obstacles, artillery casemate
Casemate
A casemate, sometimes rendered casement, is a fortified gun emplacement or armored structure from which guns are fired. originally a vaulted chamber in a fortress.-Origin of the term:...

s, machine gun posts, and other defences, which France
France
The French Republic , The French Republic , The French Republic , (commonly known as France , is a unitary semi-presidential republic in Western Europe with several overseas territories and islands located on other continents and in the Indian, Pacific, and Atlantic oceans. Metropolitan France...

 constructed along its borders with Germany and Italy, in light of its experience in World War I
World War I
World War I , which was predominantly called the World War or the Great War from its occurrence until 1939, and the First World War or World War I thereafter, was a major war centred in Europe that began on 28 July 1914 and lasted until 11 November 1918...

, and in the run-up to World War II
World War II
World War II, or the Second World War , was a global conflict lasting from 1939 to 1945, involving most of the world's nations—including all of the great powers—eventually forming two opposing military alliances: the Allies and the Axis...

. Generally the term describes only the defences facing Germany, while the term Alpine Line
Alpine Line
The Alpine Line or Little Maginot Line was the component of the Maginot Line that defended the southeastern portion of France...

 is used for the Franco-Italian defences.

The French established the fortification to provide time for their army to mobilise in the event of attack, allowing French forces to move into Belgium for a decisive confrontation with German forces. The success of static, defensive combat in World War I was a key influence on French thinking. Military experts extolled the Maginot Line as a work of genius, believing it would prevent any further invasions from the east (notably, from Germany). It was also a product of a historical inferiority in population and birthrate, exacerbated by the losses in World War One, which had been developing for three generations. The fortification system successfully dissuaded a direct attack. It was strategically ineffective, as the Germans indeed invaded Belgium, defeated the French army, flanked
Flanking maneuver
In military tactics, a flanking maneuver, also called a flank attack, is an attack on the sides of an opposing force. If a flanking maneuver succeeds, the opposing force would be surrounded from two or more directions, which significantly reduces the maneuverability of the outflanked force and its...

 the Maginot Line, through the Ardennes forest and via the Low countries
Low Countries
The Low Countries are the historical lands around the low-lying delta of the Rhine, Scheldt, and Meuse rivers, including the modern countries of Belgium, the Netherlands, Luxembourg and parts of northern France and western Germany....

, completely sweeping by the line and conquering France in days. As such, the Maginot Line has come to mean a strategy or object that people put hope into but fails miserably. It is also the best known symbol of the adage that "generals always fight the last war, especially if they have won it".

The Maginot Line was impervious to most forms of attack, and had state-of-the-art living conditions for garrisoned troops, including air conditioning, comfortable eating areas and underground railways. However, it proved costly to keep, consumed a vast amount of money and subsequently led to other parts of the French Armed Forces being underfunded.

Planning and construction



The defences were first proposed by Marshal Joffre
Joseph Joffre
Joseph Jacques Césaire Joffre OM was a French general during World War I. He is most known for regrouping the retreating allied armies to defeat the Germans at the strategically decisive First Battle of the Marne in 1914. His popularity led to his nickname Papa Joffre.-Biography:Joffre was born in...

. He was opposed by modernists such as Paul Reynaud
Paul Reynaud
Paul Reynaud was a French politician and lawyer prominent in the interwar period, noted for his stances on economic liberalism and militant opposition to Germany. He was the penultimate Prime Minister of the Third Republic and vice-president of the Democratic Republican Alliance center-right...

 and Charles de Gaulle
Charles de Gaulle
Charles André Joseph Marie de Gaulle was a French general and statesman who led the Free French Forces during World War II. He later founded the French Fifth Republic in 1958 and served as its first President from 1959 to 1969....

 who favoured investment in armour and aircraft. Joffre had support from Henri Philippe Pétain, and there were a number of reports and commissions organised by the government. It was André Maginot
André Maginot
André Maginot was a French civil servant, soldier, and Member of Parliament. He is undoubtedly best known for his advocacy for the string of forts that would be known as the Maginot Line.- Early years, to World War I :...

 who finally convinced the government to invest in the scheme. Maginot was another veteran of World War I, who became the French Minister of Veteran Affairs and then Minister of War (1928–1931).

Part of the rationale for the Maginot Line stemmed from the severe French losses during the First World War, and their effects on French demographics. The drop in the national birth rate during and after the war, resulting from a national shortage of young men created an "echo" effect in the generation that provided the French conscript army in the mid-1930s. Faced with inadequate personnel resources, French planners had to rely more on older and less fit reservists, who would take longer to mobilise, and would diminish French industry because they would leave their jobs. Static defensive positions were therefore intended not only to buy time, but also to defend an area with fewer and less mobile forces. In practice, France deployed about twice as many men, 36 divisions (roughly one third of its force), for defence of the Maginot Line in Alsace and Lorraine, whereas the opposing German Heeresgruppe C only contained 19 divisions, or less than one seventh of the total force committed in Fall Gelb.

The line was built in several phases from 1930 by the STG (Service Technique du Génie) overseen by CORF (Commission d'Organisation des Régions Fortifiées). The main construction was largely completed by 1939, at a cost of around 3 billion
1000000000 (number)
1,000,000,000 is the natural number following 999,999,999 and preceding 1,000,000,001.In scientific notation, it is written as 109....

 French franc
French franc
The franc was a currency of France. Along with the Spanish peseta, it was also a de facto currency used in Andorra . Between 1360 and 1641, it was the name of coins worth 1 livre tournois and it remained in common parlance as a term for this amount of money...

s.

The line stretched from Switzerland
Switzerland
Switzerland name of one of the Swiss cantons. ; ; ; or ), in its full name the Swiss Confederation , is a federal republic consisting of 26 cantons, with Bern as the seat of the federal authorities. The country is situated in Western Europe,Or Central Europe depending on the definition....

 to Luxembourg
Luxembourg
Luxembourg , officially the Grand Duchy of Luxembourg , is a landlocked country in western Europe, bordered by Belgium, France, and Germany. It has two principal regions: the Oesling in the North as part of the Ardennes massif, and the Gutland in the south...

, and a much lighter extension was extended to the Strait of Dover
Strait of Dover
The Strait of Dover or Dover Strait is the strait at the narrowest part of the English Channel. The shortest distance across the strait is from the South Foreland, 6 kilometres northeast of Dover in the county of Kent, England, to Cap Gris Nez, a cape near to Calais in the French of...

 after 1934. The original line construction did not cover the area chosen by the Germans for their first challenge, which was through the Ardennes
Ardennes
The Ardennes is a region of extensive forests, rolling hills and ridges formed within the Givetian Ardennes mountain range, primarily in Belgium and Luxembourg, but stretching into France , and geologically into the Eifel...

 in 1940, a plan known as Fall Gelb. The location of this attack, probably because of the Maginot Line, was through the Belgian Ardennes forest (sector 4) which is off the map to the left of Maginot Line sector 6 (as marked).

Purposes


The Maginot Line was built to fulfil several purposes:
  • To avoid a surprise attack and to give alarm.
  • To cover the mobilisation of the French Army (which took between 2 and 3 weeks).
  • To save manpower (France counted inhabitants, Germany ).
  • To protect Alsace
    Alsace
    Alsace is the fifth-smallest of the 27 regions of France in land area , and the smallest in metropolitan France. It is also the seventh-most densely populated region in France and third most densely populated region in metropolitan France, with ca. 220 inhabitants per km²...

     and Lorraine
    Lorraine (province)
    The Duchy of Upper Lorraine was an historical duchy roughly corresponding with the present-day northeastern Lorraine region of France, including parts of modern Luxembourg and Germany. The main cities were Metz, Verdun, and the historic capital Nancy....

     (returned to France in 1918) and their industrial basin.
  • To be used as a basis for a counter-offensive.
  • To push the enemy to circumvent it while passing by Switzerland
    Switzerland
    Switzerland name of one of the Swiss cantons. ; ; ; or ), in its full name the Swiss Confederation , is a federal republic consisting of 26 cantons, with Bern as the seat of the federal authorities. The country is situated in Western Europe,Or Central Europe depending on the definition....

     or Belgium
    Belgium
    Belgium , officially the Kingdom of Belgium, is a federal state in Western Europe. It is a founding member of the European Union and hosts the EU's headquarters, and those of several other major international organisations such as NATO.Belgium is also a member of, or affiliated to, many...

    .
  • To hold the enemy while the main army could be brought up to reinforce the line.
  • To show non aggressive posture, and compel the British to help France if Belgium is invaded

Organisation



Although the name "Maginot Line" suggests a rather thin linear fortification, the line was quite deep, varying in depth (i.e., from the border to the rear area) from between 20 to 25 km (12.4 to 15.5 mi). It was composed of an intricate system of strong points, fortifications, and military facilities such as border guard posts, communications centres, infantry shelters, barricades, artillery, machine gun, and anti-tank gun emplacements, supply depots, infrastructure facilities, observation posts, etc. These various structures reinforced a principal line of resistance, made up of the most heavily armed "ouvrages", which can be roughly translated as fortresses or major defensive works.

From the front and proceeding to the rear, the line was composed of:
  • Border Post line (1): This consisted of blockhouses and strong houses which were often camouflaged as inoffensive residential homes, built within a few metres of the border, and manned by troops so as to give alarm in the event of sneak or surprise attack as well as delay enemy tanks with prepared explosives and barricades.

  • Outpost and Support Point line (2): Approximately 5 kilometres (3 mi) behind the border, a line of anti-tank blockhouses were intended to provide resistance to armoured assault sufficient to delay the enemy so as to allow the crews of the "C.O.R.F. ouvrages" to be ready at their battle stations. These outposts covered major passages within the principal line.

  • Principal line of resistance (3): This line began 10 kilometres (6 mi) behind the border. It was preceded by anti-tank obstacles which were metal rails planted vertically in 6 rows with heights varying from 0.7 metre and buried to a depth of 2 metre. These anti-tank obstacles extended from end to end in front of the major works across hundreds of kilometres (miles), interrupted only by extremely dense forests, rivers, or other nearly impassable terrain.

The anti-tank obstacle system was immediately followed by an anti-personnel obstacle system made primarily of very dense barbed wire. Anti-tank road barriers also made it possible to block roads at necessary points of passage through the tank obstacles.

  • Infantry Casemates (4): These bunkers were armed with twin machine-guns (abbreviated as JM in French) and anti-tank guns of 37 or. They could be single (with only one firing room in only one direction) or double (two firing rooms, in 2 opposite directions). These generally had 2 floors, with a firing level and a support/infrastructure level that provided the troops with rest and services (power generating units, reserves of water, fuel, food, ventilation equipment, etc.). The infantry casemates often had 1 or 2 "cloches" or turrets located on top of them. These GFM cloches sometimes were used to emplace machine guns or observation periscopes. Their crew was 20 to 30 men.

  • Petits ouvrages (5): These small fortresses reinforced the line of infantry bunkers. The petits ouvrages were generally made up of several infantry bunkers connected by an underground tunnel network to which were attached various buried facilities, such as barracks, electric generators, ventilation systems, mess halls, infirmaries, and supply caches. Their crew consisted of between 100 and 200 men.

  • Ouvrages (6): These fortresses were the most important fortifications on the Maginot Line, having the sturdiest construction and also the heaviest artillery. These were composed of at least six "forward bunker systems" or "combat blocks", as well as two entrances, and were interconnected via a network of underground tunnels that often featured narrow gauge electric railways for transport between bunker systems. The various blocks contained necessary infrastructure such as power stations with generating units, independent ventilating systems, barracks and mess halls, kitchens, water storage and distribution systems, hoists, ammunition stores, workshops, and stores of spare parts, food, etc. Their crews ranged from 500 to more than 1000 men.


  • Observation Posts (7) were located on hills that provided a good view of the surrounding area. Their purpose was to locate the enemy and direct and correct the indirect fire of artillery from the artillery fortifications as well as to report on the progress and position of key enemy units. These are large reinforced buried concrete bunkers, equipped with armoured turrets containing high-precision optics that were connected with the other fortifications by field telephone and wireless transmitters (known in French by the acronym T.S.F.).

  • Telephone Network (8): This system connected every fortification in the Maginot Line, including bunkers, infantry and artillery fortresses, observation posts, and shelters. Two telephone wires were placed parallel to the line of fortifications, providing redundancy in the event of a wire getting cut. There were places along the cable where dismounted soldiers could connect to the network.

  • Infantry Reserve Shelters (9): These were found between 500 and 1000 m (1,640.4 and 3,280.8 ft) behind of the principal line of resistance. These were buried concrete bunkers designed to house and shelter up to a company of infantry (200 to 250 men), and had such features as electric generators, ventilation systems, water supplies, kitchens and heating, which allowed their occupants to hold out in the event of an attack. They could also be used as a local headquarters and as a base from which to carry out counter-attacks.

  • Flood Zones (10) were natural basins or rivers that could be flooded on demand and thus constitute an additional obstacle in the event of an enemy offensive.


  • Safety Quarters (11) were built near the major fortifications in order to make it possible for fortress ("ouvrage") crews to reach their battle stations within the shortest possible time in the event of a surprise or sneak attack during peacetime.

  • Supply depots (12).

  • Ammunition dumps (13).

  • Narrow Gauge Railway System (14): A network of narrow-gauge railways was built so as to rearm and resupply the major fortresses ("ouvrages") from supply depots up to 50 kilometres (31.1 mi) away. Petrol-engined armoured locomotives pulled supply trains along these narrow-gauge lines. (A similar system was developed with armoured steam engines back in 1914-1918.)

  • High-voltage Transmission Lines (15), initially above-ground but then buried, and connected to the civil power grid, provided electric power to the many fortifications and fortresses.

  • Heavy rail artillery (16) was hauled in by locomotives to predesignated locations so as to support the pre-emplaced artillery located in the fortresses, which was intentionally limited in range to 10–12 km (6.2–7.5 mi).

Ouvrages


There are 142 ouvrages, 352 casemates, 78 shelters, 17 observatories and around blockhouses in the Maginot Line.

Armoured cloches


There are several kinds of armoured cloches. The word cloche is a French term meaning bell due to its shape. All cloches were made in an alloy steel. Cloches are non-retractable turrets.
  • The most widespread are the GFM cloche
    GFM cloche
    The GFM cloche was one of the most common defensive armaments on the Maginot Line. A cloche was a fixed and non-retractable firing position made of a thick iron casting which shielded its occupant...

    s
    , where GFM means Guetteur fusil-mitrailleur (machine-gun sentry). They are composed of 3 to 4 openings, called crenels or embrasures. These crenels may be equipped as follows: Rifle machine-gun, direct vision block, binoculars block or 50 mm (2 in) mortar. Sometimes, the cloche is topped by a periscope. There are GFM cloches on the line. Almost every block, casemate and shelter is topped by one or two GFM cloches.
  • The JM cloche
    JM cloche
    The JM cloche is an element of the Maginot Line. It is a non-retractable non-rotating cupola of steel alloy like GFM cloches, but are armed with twin heavy machine guns, as opposed to the lighter automatic rifles associated with the GFM. There are 179 JM cloches on the Maginot Line.JM is an acronym...

    s
    are the same as the GFM cloches except that they have one opening equipped with a pair of machine-guns. There are 174 JM cloches on the line.
  • There are 72 AM cloches (armes mixtes or "mixed weapons") on the line, equipped with a pair of machine guns and a 25 mm (0.984251968503937 in) anti-tank gun. Some GFM cloches were transformed into AM cloches in 1934. (The aforementioned total does not include these modified cloches.)
  • There are 75 LG cloche
    LG cloche
    The LG cloche was a defensive element common to many Maginot Line ouvrages. The fixed cupola was deeply embedded into the concrete on top of a combat block, with only the top surface visible. The opening permitted the ejection of grenades from the interior of the cloche, providing a means of...

    s
    (lance-grenade - grenade launcher) on the line. Those cloches are almost completely covered by concrete, with only a small hole through which grenades were launched for local defence.
  • There are 20 VP cloches (periscopic vision) on the line. These cloches could be equipped with several different periscopes. Like the LG cloches, they were almost completely covered by concrete.
  • The VDP cloche
    VDP cloche
    The VDP cloche was an element of the Maginot Line fortifications. A cloche was a fixed and non-retractable firing position made of a thick iron casting which shielded its occupant. By comparison, turrets could be rotated and sometimes lowered so that only the top shell was exposed. VDP cloches...

    s
    (direct and periscopic vision) are similar to the VP cloches, but have two or three openings to provide a direct view. Consequently, they were not covered by concrete.

The Maginot Line , named after the French Minister of War
Minister of Defence (France)
The Minister of Defense and Veterans Affairs is the French government cabinet member charged with running the military of France....

 André Maginot
André Maginot
André Maginot was a French civil servant, soldier, and Member of Parliament. He is undoubtedly best known for his advocacy for the string of forts that would be known as the Maginot Line.- Early years, to World War I :...

, was a line of concrete fortification
Fortification
Fortifications are military constructions and buildings designed for defence in warfare and military bases. Humans have constructed defensive works for many thousands of years, in a variety of increasingly complex designs...

s, tank obstacles, artillery casemate
Casemate
A casemate, sometimes rendered casement, is a fortified gun emplacement or armored structure from which guns are fired. originally a vaulted chamber in a fortress.-Origin of the term:...

s, machine gun posts, and other defences, which France
France
The French Republic , The French Republic , The French Republic , (commonly known as France , is a unitary semi-presidential republic in Western Europe with several overseas territories and islands located on other continents and in the Indian, Pacific, and Atlantic oceans. Metropolitan France...

 constructed along its borders with Germany and Italy, in light of its experience in World War I
World War I
World War I , which was predominantly called the World War or the Great War from its occurrence until 1939, and the First World War or World War I thereafter, was a major war centred in Europe that began on 28 July 1914 and lasted until 11 November 1918...

, and in the run-up to World War II
World War II
World War II, or the Second World War , was a global conflict lasting from 1939 to 1945, involving most of the world's nations—including all of the great powers—eventually forming two opposing military alliances: the Allies and the Axis...

. Generally the term describes only the defences facing Germany, while the term Alpine Line
Alpine Line
The Alpine Line or Little Maginot Line was the component of the Maginot Line that defended the southeastern portion of France...

 is used for the Franco-Italian defences.

The French established the fortification to provide time for their army to mobilise in the event of attack, allowing French forces to move into Belgium for a decisive confrontation with German forces. The success of static, defensive combat in World War I was a key influence on French thinking. Military experts extolled the Maginot Line as a work of genius, believing it would prevent any further invasions from the east (notably, from Germany). It was also a product of a historical inferiority in population and birthrate, exacerbated by the losses in World War One, which had been developing for three generations. The fortification system successfully dissuaded a direct attack. It was strategically ineffective, as the Germans indeed invaded Belgium, defeated the French army, flanked
Flanking maneuver
In military tactics, a flanking maneuver, also called a flank attack, is an attack on the sides of an opposing force. If a flanking maneuver succeeds, the opposing force would be surrounded from two or more directions, which significantly reduces the maneuverability of the outflanked force and its...

 the Maginot Line, through the Ardennes forest and via the Low countries
Low Countries
The Low Countries are the historical lands around the low-lying delta of the Rhine, Scheldt, and Meuse rivers, including the modern countries of Belgium, the Netherlands, Luxembourg and parts of northern France and western Germany....

, completely sweeping by the line and conquering France in days. As such, the Maginot Line has come to mean a strategy or object that people put hope into but fails miserably. It is also the best known symbol of the adage that "generals always fight the last war, especially if they have won it".

The Maginot Line was impervious to most forms of attack, and had state-of-the-art living conditions for garrisoned troops, including air conditioning, comfortable eating areas and underground railways. However, it proved costly to keep, consumed a vast amount of money and subsequently led to other parts of the French Armed Forces being underfunded.

Planning and construction



The defences were first proposed by Marshal Joffre
Joseph Joffre
Joseph Jacques Césaire Joffre OM was a French general during World War I. He is most known for regrouping the retreating allied armies to defeat the Germans at the strategically decisive First Battle of the Marne in 1914. His popularity led to his nickname Papa Joffre.-Biography:Joffre was born in...

. He was opposed by modernists such as Paul Reynaud
Paul Reynaud
Paul Reynaud was a French politician and lawyer prominent in the interwar period, noted for his stances on economic liberalism and militant opposition to Germany. He was the penultimate Prime Minister of the Third Republic and vice-president of the Democratic Republican Alliance center-right...

 and Charles de Gaulle
Charles de Gaulle
Charles André Joseph Marie de Gaulle was a French general and statesman who led the Free French Forces during World War II. He later founded the French Fifth Republic in 1958 and served as its first President from 1959 to 1969....

 who favoured investment in armour and aircraft. Joffre had support from Henri Philippe Pétain, and there were a number of reports and commissions organised by the government. It was André Maginot
André Maginot
André Maginot was a French civil servant, soldier, and Member of Parliament. He is undoubtedly best known for his advocacy for the string of forts that would be known as the Maginot Line.- Early years, to World War I :...

 who finally convinced the government to invest in the scheme. Maginot was another veteran of World War I, who became the French Minister of Veteran Affairs and then Minister of War (1928–1931).

Part of the rationale for the Maginot Line stemmed from the severe French losses during the First World War, and their effects on French demographics. The drop in the national birth rate during and after the war, resulting from a national shortage of young men created an "echo" effect in the generation that provided the French conscript army in the mid-1930s. Faced with inadequate personnel resources, French planners had to rely more on older and less fit reservists, who would take longer to mobilise, and would diminish French industry because they would leave their jobs. Static defensive positions were therefore intended not only to buy time, but also to defend an area with fewer and less mobile forces. In practice, France deployed about twice as many men, 36 divisions (roughly one third of its force), for defence of the Maginot Line in Alsace and Lorraine, whereas the opposing German Heeresgruppe C only contained 19 divisions, or less than one seventh of the total force committed in Fall Gelb.

The line was built in several phases from 1930 by the STG (Service Technique du Génie) overseen by CORF (Commission d'Organisation des Régions Fortifiées). The main construction was largely completed by 1939, at a cost of around 3 billion
1000000000 (number)
1,000,000,000 is the natural number following 999,999,999 and preceding 1,000,000,001.In scientific notation, it is written as 109....

 French franc
French franc
The franc was a currency of France. Along with the Spanish peseta, it was also a de facto currency used in Andorra . Between 1360 and 1641, it was the name of coins worth 1 livre tournois and it remained in common parlance as a term for this amount of money...

s.

The line stretched from Switzerland
Switzerland
Switzerland name of one of the Swiss cantons. ; ; ; or ), in its full name the Swiss Confederation , is a federal republic consisting of 26 cantons, with Bern as the seat of the federal authorities. The country is situated in Western Europe,Or Central Europe depending on the definition....

 to Luxembourg
Luxembourg
Luxembourg , officially the Grand Duchy of Luxembourg , is a landlocked country in western Europe, bordered by Belgium, France, and Germany. It has two principal regions: the Oesling in the North as part of the Ardennes massif, and the Gutland in the south...

, and a much lighter extension was extended to the Strait of Dover
Strait of Dover
The Strait of Dover or Dover Strait is the strait at the narrowest part of the English Channel. The shortest distance across the strait is from the South Foreland, 6 kilometres northeast of Dover in the county of Kent, England, to Cap Gris Nez, a cape near to Calais in the French of...

 after 1934. The original line construction did not cover the area chosen by the Germans for their first challenge, which was through the Ardennes
Ardennes
The Ardennes is a region of extensive forests, rolling hills and ridges formed within the Givetian Ardennes mountain range, primarily in Belgium and Luxembourg, but stretching into France , and geologically into the Eifel...

 in 1940, a plan known as Fall Gelb. The location of this attack, probably because of the Maginot Line, was through the Belgian Ardennes forest (sector 4) which is off the map to the left of Maginot Line sector 6 (as marked).

Purposes


The Maginot Line was built to fulfil several purposes:
  • To avoid a surprise attack and to give alarm.
  • To cover the mobilisation of the French Army (which took between 2 and 3 weeks).
  • To save manpower (France counted inhabitants, Germany ).
  • To protect Alsace
    Alsace
    Alsace is the fifth-smallest of the 27 regions of France in land area , and the smallest in metropolitan France. It is also the seventh-most densely populated region in France and third most densely populated region in metropolitan France, with ca. 220 inhabitants per km²...

     and Lorraine
    Lorraine (province)
    The Duchy of Upper Lorraine was an historical duchy roughly corresponding with the present-day northeastern Lorraine region of France, including parts of modern Luxembourg and Germany. The main cities were Metz, Verdun, and the historic capital Nancy....

     (returned to France in 1918) and their industrial basin.
  • To be used as a basis for a counter-offensive.
  • To push the enemy to circumvent it while passing by Switzerland
    Switzerland
    Switzerland name of one of the Swiss cantons. ; ; ; or ), in its full name the Swiss Confederation , is a federal republic consisting of 26 cantons, with Bern as the seat of the federal authorities. The country is situated in Western Europe,Or Central Europe depending on the definition....

     or Belgium
    Belgium
    Belgium , officially the Kingdom of Belgium, is a federal state in Western Europe. It is a founding member of the European Union and hosts the EU's headquarters, and those of several other major international organisations such as NATO.Belgium is also a member of, or affiliated to, many...

    .
  • To hold the enemy while the main army could be brought up to reinforce the line.
  • To show non aggressive posture, and compel the British to help France if Belgium is invaded

Organisation



Although the name "Maginot Line" suggests a rather thin linear fortification, the line was quite deep, varying in depth (i.e., from the border to the rear area) from between 20 to 25 km (12.4 to 15.5 mi). It was composed of an intricate system of strong points, fortifications, and military facilities such as border guard posts, communications centres, infantry shelters, barricades, artillery, machine gun, and anti-tank gun emplacements, supply depots, infrastructure facilities, observation posts, etc. These various structures reinforced a principal line of resistance, made up of the most heavily armed "ouvrages", which can be roughly translated as fortresses or major defensive works.

From the front and proceeding to the rear, the line was composed of:
  • Border Post line (1): This consisted of blockhouses and strong houses which were often camouflaged as inoffensive residential homes, built within a few metres of the border, and manned by troops so as to give alarm in the event of sneak or surprise attack as well as delay enemy tanks with prepared explosives and barricades.

  • Outpost and Support Point line (2): Approximately 5 kilometres (3 mi) behind the border, a line of anti-tank blockhouses were intended to provide resistance to armoured assault sufficient to delay the enemy so as to allow the crews of the "C.O.R.F. ouvrages" to be ready at their battle stations. These outposts covered major passages within the principal line.

  • Principal line of resistance (3): This line began 10 kilometres (6 mi) behind the border. It was preceded by anti-tank obstacles which were metal rails planted vertically in 6 rows with heights varying from 0.7 metre and buried to a depth of 2 metre. These anti-tank obstacles extended from end to end in front of the major works across hundreds of kilometres (miles), interrupted only by extremely dense forests, rivers, or other nearly impassable terrain.

The anti-tank obstacle system was immediately followed by an anti-personnel obstacle system made primarily of very dense barbed wire. Anti-tank road barriers also made it possible to block roads at necessary points of passage through the tank obstacles.

  • Infantry Casemates (4): These bunkers were armed with twin machine-guns (abbreviated as JM in French) and anti-tank guns of 37 or. They could be single (with only one firing room in only one direction) or double (two firing rooms, in 2 opposite directions). These generally had 2 floors, with a firing level and a support/infrastructure level that provided the troops with rest and services (power generating units, reserves of water, fuel, food, ventilation equipment, etc.). The infantry casemates often had 1 or 2 "cloches" or turrets located on top of them. These GFM cloches sometimes were used to emplace machine guns or observation periscopes. Their crew was 20 to 30 men.

  • Petits ouvrages (5): These small fortresses reinforced the line of infantry bunkers. The petits ouvrages were generally made up of several infantry bunkers connected by an underground tunnel network to which were attached various buried facilities, such as barracks, electric generators, ventilation systems, mess halls, infirmaries, and supply caches. Their crew consisted of between 100 and 200 men.

  • Ouvrages (6): These fortresses were the most important fortifications on the Maginot Line, having the sturdiest construction and also the heaviest artillery. These were composed of at least six "forward bunker systems" or "combat blocks", as well as two entrances, and were interconnected via a network of underground tunnels that often featured narrow gauge electric railways for transport between bunker systems. The various blocks contained necessary infrastructure such as power stations with generating units, independent ventilating systems, barracks and mess halls, kitchens, water storage and distribution systems, hoists, ammunition stores, workshops, and stores of spare parts, food, etc. Their crews ranged from 500 to more than 1000 men.


  • Observation Posts (7) were located on hills that provided a good view of the surrounding area. Their purpose was to locate the enemy and direct and correct the indirect fire of artillery from the artillery fortifications as well as to report on the progress and position of key enemy units. These are large reinforced buried concrete bunkers, equipped with armoured turrets containing high-precision optics that were connected with the other fortifications by field telephone and wireless transmitters (known in French by the acronym T.S.F.).

  • Telephone Network (8): This system connected every fortification in the Maginot Line, including bunkers, infantry and artillery fortresses, observation posts, and shelters. Two telephone wires were placed parallel to the line of fortifications, providing redundancy in the event of a wire getting cut. There were places along the cable where dismounted soldiers could connect to the network.

  • Infantry Reserve Shelters (9): These were found between 500 and 1000 m (1,640.4 and 3,280.8 ft) behind of the principal line of resistance. These were buried concrete bunkers designed to house and shelter up to a company of infantry (200 to 250 men), and had such features as electric generators, ventilation systems, water supplies, kitchens and heating, which allowed their occupants to hold out in the event of an attack. They could also be used as a local headquarters and as a base from which to carry out counter-attacks.

  • Flood Zones (10) were natural basins or rivers that could be flooded on demand and thus constitute an additional obstacle in the event of an enemy offensive.


  • Safety Quarters (11) were built near the major fortifications in order to make it possible for fortress ("ouvrage") crews to reach their battle stations within the shortest possible time in the event of a surprise or sneak attack during peacetime.

  • Supply depots (12).

  • Ammunition dumps (13).

  • Narrow Gauge Railway System (14): A network of narrow-gauge railways was built so as to rearm and resupply the major fortresses ("ouvrages") from supply depots up to 50 kilometres (31.1 mi) away. Petrol-engined armoured locomotives pulled supply trains along these narrow-gauge lines. (A similar system was developed with armoured steam engines back in 1914-1918.)

  • High-voltage Transmission Lines (15), initially above-ground but then buried, and connected to the civil power grid, provided electric power to the many fortifications and fortresses.

  • Heavy rail artillery (16) was hauled in by locomotives to predesignated locations so as to support the pre-emplaced artillery located in the fortresses, which was intentionally limited in range to 10–12 km (6.2–7.5 mi).

Ouvrages


There are 142 ouvrages, 352 casemates, 78 shelters, 17 observatories and around blockhouses in the Maginot Line.

Armoured cloches


There are several kinds of armoured cloches. The word cloche is a French term meaning bell due to its shape. All cloches were made in an alloy steel. Cloches are non-retractable turrets.
  • The most widespread are the GFM cloche
    GFM cloche
    The GFM cloche was one of the most common defensive armaments on the Maginot Line. A cloche was a fixed and non-retractable firing position made of a thick iron casting which shielded its occupant...

    s
    , where GFM means Guetteur fusil-mitrailleur (machine-gun sentry). They are composed of 3 to 4 openings, called crenels or embrasures. These crenels may be equipped as follows: Rifle machine-gun, direct vision block, binoculars block or 50 mm (2 in) mortar. Sometimes, the cloche is topped by a periscope. There are GFM cloches on the line. Almost every block, casemate and shelter is topped by one or two GFM cloches.
  • The JM cloche
    JM cloche
    The JM cloche is an element of the Maginot Line. It is a non-retractable non-rotating cupola of steel alloy like GFM cloches, but are armed with twin heavy machine guns, as opposed to the lighter automatic rifles associated with the GFM. There are 179 JM cloches on the Maginot Line.JM is an acronym...

    s
    are the same as the GFM cloches except that they have one opening equipped with a pair of machine-guns. There are 174 JM cloches on the line.
  • There are 72 AM cloches (armes mixtes or "mixed weapons") on the line, equipped with a pair of machine guns and a 25 mm (0.984251968503937 in) anti-tank gun. Some GFM cloches were transformed into AM cloches in 1934. (The aforementioned total does not include these modified cloches.)
  • There are 75 LG cloche
    LG cloche
    The LG cloche was a defensive element common to many Maginot Line ouvrages. The fixed cupola was deeply embedded into the concrete on top of a combat block, with only the top surface visible. The opening permitted the ejection of grenades from the interior of the cloche, providing a means of...

    s
    (lance-grenade - grenade launcher) on the line. Those cloches are almost completely covered by concrete, with only a small hole through which grenades were launched for local defence.
  • There are 20 VP cloches (periscopic vision) on the line. These cloches could be equipped with several different periscopes. Like the LG cloches, they were almost completely covered by concrete.
  • The VDP cloche
    VDP cloche
    The VDP cloche was an element of the Maginot Line fortifications. A cloche was a fixed and non-retractable firing position made of a thick iron casting which shielded its occupant. By comparison, turrets could be rotated and sometimes lowered so that only the top shell was exposed. VDP cloches...

    s
    (direct and periscopic vision) are similar to the VP cloches, but have two or three openings to provide a direct view. Consequently, they were not covered by concrete.

The Maginot Line , named after the French Minister of War
Minister of Defence (France)
The Minister of Defense and Veterans Affairs is the French government cabinet member charged with running the military of France....

 André Maginot
André Maginot
André Maginot was a French civil servant, soldier, and Member of Parliament. He is undoubtedly best known for his advocacy for the string of forts that would be known as the Maginot Line.- Early years, to World War I :...

, was a line of concrete fortification
Fortification
Fortifications are military constructions and buildings designed for defence in warfare and military bases. Humans have constructed defensive works for many thousands of years, in a variety of increasingly complex designs...

s, tank obstacles, artillery casemate
Casemate
A casemate, sometimes rendered casement, is a fortified gun emplacement or armored structure from which guns are fired. originally a vaulted chamber in a fortress.-Origin of the term:...

s, machine gun posts, and other defences, which France
France
The French Republic , The French Republic , The French Republic , (commonly known as France , is a unitary semi-presidential republic in Western Europe with several overseas territories and islands located on other continents and in the Indian, Pacific, and Atlantic oceans. Metropolitan France...

 constructed along its borders with Germany and Italy, in light of its experience in World War I
World War I
World War I , which was predominantly called the World War or the Great War from its occurrence until 1939, and the First World War or World War I thereafter, was a major war centred in Europe that began on 28 July 1914 and lasted until 11 November 1918...

, and in the run-up to World War II
World War II
World War II, or the Second World War , was a global conflict lasting from 1939 to 1945, involving most of the world's nations—including all of the great powers—eventually forming two opposing military alliances: the Allies and the Axis...

. Generally the term describes only the defences facing Germany, while the term Alpine Line
Alpine Line
The Alpine Line or Little Maginot Line was the component of the Maginot Line that defended the southeastern portion of France...

 is used for the Franco-Italian defences.

The French established the fortification to provide time for their army to mobilise in the event of attack, allowing French forces to move into Belgium for a decisive confrontation with German forces. The success of static, defensive combat in World War I was a key influence on French thinking. Military experts extolled the Maginot Line as a work of genius, believing it would prevent any further invasions from the east (notably, from Germany). It was also a product of a historical inferiority in population and birthrate, exacerbated by the losses in World War One, which had been developing for three generations. The fortification system successfully dissuaded a direct attack. It was strategically ineffective, as the Germans indeed invaded Belgium, defeated the French army, flanked
Flanking maneuver
In military tactics, a flanking maneuver, also called a flank attack, is an attack on the sides of an opposing force. If a flanking maneuver succeeds, the opposing force would be surrounded from two or more directions, which significantly reduces the maneuverability of the outflanked force and its...

 the Maginot Line, through the Ardennes forest and via the Low countries
Low Countries
The Low Countries are the historical lands around the low-lying delta of the Rhine, Scheldt, and Meuse rivers, including the modern countries of Belgium, the Netherlands, Luxembourg and parts of northern France and western Germany....

, completely sweeping by the line and conquering France in days. As such, the Maginot Line has come to mean a strategy or object that people put hope into but fails miserably. It is also the best known symbol of the adage that "generals always fight the last war, especially if they have won it".

The Maginot Line was impervious to most forms of attack, and had state-of-the-art living conditions for garrisoned troops, including air conditioning, comfortable eating areas and underground railways. However, it proved costly to keep, consumed a vast amount of money and subsequently led to other parts of the French Armed Forces being underfunded.

Planning and construction



The defences were first proposed by Marshal Joffre
Joseph Joffre
Joseph Jacques Césaire Joffre OM was a French general during World War I. He is most known for regrouping the retreating allied armies to defeat the Germans at the strategically decisive First Battle of the Marne in 1914. His popularity led to his nickname Papa Joffre.-Biography:Joffre was born in...

. He was opposed by modernists such as Paul Reynaud
Paul Reynaud
Paul Reynaud was a French politician and lawyer prominent in the interwar period, noted for his stances on economic liberalism and militant opposition to Germany. He was the penultimate Prime Minister of the Third Republic and vice-president of the Democratic Republican Alliance center-right...

 and Charles de Gaulle
Charles de Gaulle
Charles André Joseph Marie de Gaulle was a French general and statesman who led the Free French Forces during World War II. He later founded the French Fifth Republic in 1958 and served as its first President from 1959 to 1969....

 who favoured investment in armour and aircraft. Joffre had support from Henri Philippe Pétain, and there were a number of reports and commissions organised by the government. It was André Maginot
André Maginot
André Maginot was a French civil servant, soldier, and Member of Parliament. He is undoubtedly best known for his advocacy for the string of forts that would be known as the Maginot Line.- Early years, to World War I :...

 who finally convinced the government to invest in the scheme. Maginot was another veteran of World War I, who became the French Minister of Veteran Affairs and then Minister of War (1928–1931).

Part of the rationale for the Maginot Line stemmed from the severe French losses during the First World War, and their effects on French demographics. The drop in the national birth rate during and after the war, resulting from a national shortage of young men created an "echo" effect in the generation that provided the French conscript army in the mid-1930s. Faced with inadequate personnel resources, French planners had to rely more on older and less fit reservists, who would take longer to mobilise, and would diminish French industry because they would leave their jobs. Static defensive positions were therefore intended not only to buy time, but also to defend an area with fewer and less mobile forces. In practice, France deployed about twice as many men, 36 divisions (roughly one third of its force), for defence of the Maginot Line in Alsace and Lorraine, whereas the opposing German Heeresgruppe C only contained 19 divisions, or less than one seventh of the total force committed in Fall Gelb.

The line was built in several phases from 1930 by the STG (Service Technique du Génie) overseen by CORF (Commission d'Organisation des Régions Fortifiées). The main construction was largely completed by 1939, at a cost of around 3 billion
1000000000 (number)
1,000,000,000 is the natural number following 999,999,999 and preceding 1,000,000,001.In scientific notation, it is written as 109....

 French franc
French franc
The franc was a currency of France. Along with the Spanish peseta, it was also a de facto currency used in Andorra . Between 1360 and 1641, it was the name of coins worth 1 livre tournois and it remained in common parlance as a term for this amount of money...

s.

The line stretched from Switzerland
Switzerland
Switzerland name of one of the Swiss cantons. ; ; ; or ), in its full name the Swiss Confederation , is a federal republic consisting of 26 cantons, with Bern as the seat of the federal authorities. The country is situated in Western Europe,Or Central Europe depending on the definition....

 to Luxembourg
Luxembourg
Luxembourg , officially the Grand Duchy of Luxembourg , is a landlocked country in western Europe, bordered by Belgium, France, and Germany. It has two principal regions: the Oesling in the North as part of the Ardennes massif, and the Gutland in the south...

, and a much lighter extension was extended to the Strait of Dover
Strait of Dover
The Strait of Dover or Dover Strait is the strait at the narrowest part of the English Channel. The shortest distance across the strait is from the South Foreland, 6 kilometres northeast of Dover in the county of Kent, England, to Cap Gris Nez, a cape near to Calais in the French of...

 after 1934. The original line construction did not cover the area chosen by the Germans for their first challenge, which was through the Ardennes
Ardennes
The Ardennes is a region of extensive forests, rolling hills and ridges formed within the Givetian Ardennes mountain range, primarily in Belgium and Luxembourg, but stretching into France , and geologically into the Eifel...

 in 1940, a plan known as Fall Gelb. The location of this attack, probably because of the Maginot Line, was through the Belgian Ardennes forest (sector 4) which is off the map to the left of Maginot Line sector 6 (as marked).

Purposes


The Maginot Line was built to fulfil several purposes:
  • To avoid a surprise attack and to give alarm.
  • To cover the mobilisation of the French Army (which took between 2 and 3 weeks).
  • To save manpower (France counted inhabitants, Germany ).
  • To protect Alsace
    Alsace
    Alsace is the fifth-smallest of the 27 regions of France in land area , and the smallest in metropolitan France. It is also the seventh-most densely populated region in France and third most densely populated region in metropolitan France, with ca. 220 inhabitants per km²...

     and Lorraine
    Lorraine (province)
    The Duchy of Upper Lorraine was an historical duchy roughly corresponding with the present-day northeastern Lorraine region of France, including parts of modern Luxembourg and Germany. The main cities were Metz, Verdun, and the historic capital Nancy....

     (returned to France in 1918) and their industrial basin.
  • To be used as a basis for a counter-offensive.
  • To push the enemy to circumvent it while passing by Switzerland
    Switzerland
    Switzerland name of one of the Swiss cantons. ; ; ; or ), in its full name the Swiss Confederation , is a federal republic consisting of 26 cantons, with Bern as the seat of the federal authorities. The country is situated in Western Europe,Or Central Europe depending on the definition....

     or Belgium
    Belgium
    Belgium , officially the Kingdom of Belgium, is a federal state in Western Europe. It is a founding member of the European Union and hosts the EU's headquarters, and those of several other major international organisations such as NATO.Belgium is also a member of, or affiliated to, many...

    .
  • To hold the enemy while the main army could be brought up to reinforce the line.
  • To show non aggressive posture, and compel the British to help France if Belgium is invaded

Organisation



Although the name "Maginot Line" suggests a rather thin linear fortification, the line was quite deep, varying in depth (i.e., from the border to the rear area) from between 20 to 25 km (12.4 to 15.5 mi). It was composed of an intricate system of strong points, fortifications, and military facilities such as border guard posts, communications centres, infantry shelters, barricades, artillery, machine gun, and anti-tank gun emplacements, supply depots, infrastructure facilities, observation posts, etc. These various structures reinforced a principal line of resistance, made up of the most heavily armed "ouvrages", which can be roughly translated as fortresses or major defensive works.

From the front and proceeding to the rear, the line was composed of:
  • Border Post line (1): This consisted of blockhouses and strong houses which were often camouflaged as inoffensive residential homes, built within a few metres of the border, and manned by troops so as to give alarm in the event of sneak or surprise attack as well as delay enemy tanks with prepared explosives and barricades.

  • Outpost and Support Point line (2): Approximately 5 kilometres (3 mi) behind the border, a line of anti-tank blockhouses were intended to provide resistance to armoured assault sufficient to delay the enemy so as to allow the crews of the "C.O.R.F. ouvrages" to be ready at their battle stations. These outposts covered major passages within the principal line.

  • Principal line of resistance (3): This line began 10 kilometres (6 mi) behind the border. It was preceded by anti-tank obstacles which were metal rails planted vertically in 6 rows with heights varying from 0.7 metre and buried to a depth of 2 metre. These anti-tank obstacles extended from end to end in front of the major works across hundreds of kilometres (miles), interrupted only by extremely dense forests, rivers, or other nearly impassable terrain.

The anti-tank obstacle system was immediately followed by an anti-personnel obstacle system made primarily of very dense barbed wire. Anti-tank road barriers also made it possible to block roads at necessary points of passage through the tank obstacles.

  • Infantry Casemates (4): These bunkers were armed with twin machine-guns (abbreviated as JM in French) and anti-tank guns of 37 or. They could be single (with only one firing room in only one direction) or double (two firing rooms, in 2 opposite directions). These generally had 2 floors, with a firing level and a support/infrastructure level that provided the troops with rest and services (power generating units, reserves of water, fuel, food, ventilation equipment, etc.). The infantry casemates often had 1 or 2 "cloches" or turrets located on top of them. These GFM cloches sometimes were used to emplace machine guns or observation periscopes. Their crew was 20 to 30 men.

  • Petits ouvrages (5): These small fortresses reinforced the line of infantry bunkers. The petits ouvrages were generally made up of several infantry bunkers connected by an underground tunnel network to which were attached various buried facilities, such as barracks, electric generators, ventilation systems, mess halls, infirmaries, and supply caches. Their crew consisted of between 100 and 200 men.

  • Ouvrages (6): These fortresses were the most important fortifications on the Maginot Line, having the sturdiest construction and also the heaviest artillery. These were composed of at least six "forward bunker systems" or "combat blocks", as well as two entrances, and were interconnected via a network of underground tunnels that often featured narrow gauge electric railways for transport between bunker systems. The various blocks contained necessary infrastructure such as power stations with generating units, independent ventilating systems, barracks and mess halls, kitchens, water storage and distribution systems, hoists, ammunition stores, workshops, and stores of spare parts, food, etc. Their crews ranged from 500 to more than 1000 men.


  • Observation Posts (7) were located on hills that provided a good view of the surrounding area. Their purpose was to locate the enemy and direct and correct the indirect fire of artillery from the artillery fortifications as well as to report on the progress and position of key enemy units. These are large reinforced buried concrete bunkers, equipped with armoured turrets containing high-precision optics that were connected with the other fortifications by field telephone and wireless transmitters (known in French by the acronym T.S.F.).

  • Telephone Network (8): This system connected every fortification in the Maginot Line, including bunkers, infantry and artillery fortresses, observation posts, and shelters. Two telephone wires were placed parallel to the line of fortifications, providing redundancy in the event of a wire getting cut. There were places along the cable where dismounted soldiers could connect to the network.

  • Infantry Reserve Shelters (9): These were found between 500 and 1000 m (1,640.4 and 3,280.8 ft) behind of the principal line of resistance. These were buried concrete bunkers designed to house and shelter up to a company of infantry (200 to 250 men), and had such features as electric generators, ventilation systems, water supplies, kitchens and heating, which allowed their occupants to hold out in the event of an attack. They could also be used as a local headquarters and as a base from which to carry out counter-attacks.

  • Flood Zones (10) were natural basins or rivers that could be flooded on demand and thus constitute an additional obstacle in the event of an enemy offensive.


  • Safety Quarters (11) were built near the major fortifications in order to make it possible for fortress ("ouvrage") crews to reach their battle stations within the shortest possible time in the event of a surprise or sneak attack during peacetime.

  • Supply depots (12).

  • Ammunition dumps (13).

  • Narrow Gauge Railway System (14): A network of narrow-gauge railways was built so as to rearm and resupply the major fortresses ("ouvrages") from supply depots up to 50 kilometres (31.1 mi) away. Petrol-engined armoured locomotives pulled supply trains along these narrow-gauge lines. (A similar system was developed with armoured steam engines back in 1914-1918.)

  • High-voltage Transmission Lines (15), initially above-ground but then buried, and connected to the civil power grid, provided electric power to the many fortifications and fortresses.

  • Heavy rail artillery (16) was hauled in by locomotives to predesignated locations so as to support the pre-emplaced artillery located in the fortresses, which was intentionally limited in range to 10–12 km (6.2–7.5 mi).

Ouvrages


There are 142 ouvrages, 352 casemates, 78 shelters, 17 observatories and around blockhouses in the Maginot Line.

Armoured cloches


There are several kinds of armoured cloches. The word cloche is a French term meaning bell due to its shape. All cloches were made in an alloy steel. Cloches are non-retractable turrets.
  • The most widespread are the GFM cloche
    GFM cloche
    The GFM cloche was one of the most common defensive armaments on the Maginot Line. A cloche was a fixed and non-retractable firing position made of a thick iron casting which shielded its occupant...

    s
    , where GFM means Guetteur fusil-mitrailleur (machine-gun sentry). They are composed of 3 to 4 openings, called crenels or embrasures. These crenels may be equipped as follows: Rifle machine-gun, direct vision block, binoculars block or 50 mm (2 in) mortar. Sometimes, the cloche is topped by a periscope. There are GFM cloches on the line. Almost every block, casemate and shelter is topped by one or two GFM cloches.
  • The JM cloche
    JM cloche
    The JM cloche is an element of the Maginot Line. It is a non-retractable non-rotating cupola of steel alloy like GFM cloches, but are armed with twin heavy machine guns, as opposed to the lighter automatic rifles associated with the GFM. There are 179 JM cloches on the Maginot Line.JM is an acronym...

    s
    are the same as the GFM cloches except that they have one opening equipped with a pair of machine-guns. There are 174 JM cloches on the line.
  • There are 72 AM cloches (armes mixtes or "mixed weapons") on the line, equipped with a pair of machine guns and a 25 mm (0.984251968503937 in) anti-tank gun. Some GFM cloches were transformed into AM cloches in 1934. (The aforementioned total does not include these modified cloches.)
  • There are 75 LG cloche
    LG cloche
    The LG cloche was a defensive element common to many Maginot Line ouvrages. The fixed cupola was deeply embedded into the concrete on top of a combat block, with only the top surface visible. The opening permitted the ejection of grenades from the interior of the cloche, providing a means of...

    s
    (lance-grenade - grenade launcher) on the line. Those cloches are almost completely covered by concrete, with only a small hole through which grenades were launched for local defence.
  • There are 20 VP cloches (periscopic vision) on the line. These cloches could be equipped with several different periscopes. Like the LG cloches, they were almost completely covered by concrete.
  • The VDP cloche
    VDP cloche
    The VDP cloche was an element of the Maginot Line fortifications. A cloche was a fixed and non-retractable firing position made of a thick iron casting which shielded its occupant. By comparison, turrets could be rotated and sometimes lowered so that only the top shell was exposed. VDP cloches...

    s
    (direct and periscopic vision) are similar to the VP cloches, but have two or three openings to provide a direct view. Consequently, they were not covered by concrete.


The Maginot Line , named after the French Minister of War
Minister of Defence (France)
The Minister of Defense and Veterans Affairs is the French government cabinet member charged with running the military of France....

 André Maginot
André Maginot
André Maginot was a French civil servant, soldier, and Member of Parliament. He is undoubtedly best known for his advocacy for the string of forts that would be known as the Maginot Line.- Early years, to World War I :...

, was a line of concrete fortification
Fortification
Fortifications are military constructions and buildings designed for defence in warfare and military bases. Humans have constructed defensive works for many thousands of years, in a variety of increasingly complex designs...

s, tank obstacles, artillery casemate
Casemate
A casemate, sometimes rendered casement, is a fortified gun emplacement or armored structure from which guns are fired. originally a vaulted chamber in a fortress.-Origin of the term:...

s, machine gun posts, and other defences, which France
France
The French Republic , The French Republic , The French Republic , (commonly known as France , is a unitary semi-presidential republic in Western Europe with several overseas territories and islands located on other continents and in the Indian, Pacific, and Atlantic oceans. Metropolitan France...

 constructed along its borders with Germany and Italy, in light of its experience in World War I
World War I
World War I , which was predominantly called the World War or the Great War from its occurrence until 1939, and the First World War or World War I thereafter, was a major war centred in Europe that began on 28 July 1914 and lasted until 11 November 1918...

, and in the run-up to World War II
World War II
World War II, or the Second World War , was a global conflict lasting from 1939 to 1945, involving most of the world's nations—including all of the great powers—eventually forming two opposing military alliances: the Allies and the Axis...

. Generally the term describes only the defences facing Germany, while the term Alpine Line
Alpine Line
The Alpine Line or Little Maginot Line was the component of the Maginot Line that defended the southeastern portion of France...

 is used for the Franco-Italian defences.

The French established the fortification to provide time for their army to mobilise in the event of attack, allowing French forces to move into Belgium for a decisive confrontation with German forces. The success of static, defensive combat in World War I was a key influence on French thinking. Military experts extolled the Maginot Line as a work of genius, believing it would prevent any further invasions from the east (notably, from Germany). It was also a product of a historical inferiority in population and birthrate, exacerbated by the losses in World War One, which had been developing for three generations. The fortification system successfully dissuaded a direct attack. It was strategically ineffective, as the Germans indeed invaded Belgium, defeated the French army, flanked
Flanking maneuver
In military tactics, a flanking maneuver, also called a flank attack, is an attack on the sides of an opposing force. If a flanking maneuver succeeds, the opposing force would be surrounded from two or more directions, which significantly reduces the maneuverability of the outflanked force and its...

 the Maginot Line, through the Ardennes forest and via the Low countries
Low Countries
The Low Countries are the historical lands around the low-lying delta of the Rhine, Scheldt, and Meuse rivers, including the modern countries of Belgium, the Netherlands, Luxembourg and parts of northern France and western Germany....

, completely sweeping by the line and conquering France in days. As such, the Maginot Line has come to mean a strategy or object that people put hope into but fails miserably. It is also the best known symbol of the adage that "generals always fight the last war, especially if they have won it".

The Maginot Line was impervious to most forms of attack, and had state-of-the-art living conditions for garrisoned troops, including air conditioning, comfortable eating areas and underground railways. However, it proved costly to keep, consumed a vast amount of money and subsequently led to other parts of the French Armed Forces being underfunded.

Planning and construction



The defences were first proposed by Marshal Joffre
Joseph Joffre
Joseph Jacques Césaire Joffre OM was a French general during World War I. He is most known for regrouping the retreating allied armies to defeat the Germans at the strategically decisive First Battle of the Marne in 1914. His popularity led to his nickname Papa Joffre.-Biography:Joffre was born in...

. He was opposed by modernists such as Paul Reynaud
Paul Reynaud
Paul Reynaud was a French politician and lawyer prominent in the interwar period, noted for his stances on economic liberalism and militant opposition to Germany. He was the penultimate Prime Minister of the Third Republic and vice-president of the Democratic Republican Alliance center-right...

 and Charles de Gaulle
Charles de Gaulle
Charles André Joseph Marie de Gaulle was a French general and statesman who led the Free French Forces during World War II. He later founded the French Fifth Republic in 1958 and served as its first President from 1959 to 1969....

 who favoured investment in armour and aircraft. Joffre had support from Henri Philippe Pétain, and there were a number of reports and commissions organised by the government. It was André Maginot
André Maginot
André Maginot was a French civil servant, soldier, and Member of Parliament. He is undoubtedly best known for his advocacy for the string of forts that would be known as the Maginot Line.- Early years, to World War I :...

 who finally convinced the government to invest in the scheme. Maginot was another veteran of World War I, who became the French Minister of Veteran Affairs and then Minister of War (1928–1931).

Part of the rationale for the Maginot Line stemmed from the severe French losses during the First World War, and their effects on French demographics. The drop in the national birth rate during and after the war, resulting from a national shortage of young men created an "echo" effect in the generation that provided the French conscript army in the mid-1930s. Faced with inadequate personnel resources, French planners had to rely more on older and less fit reservists, who would take longer to mobilise, and would diminish French industry because they would leave their jobs. Static defensive positions were therefore intended not only to buy time, but also to defend an area with fewer and less mobile forces. In practice, France deployed about twice as many men, 36 divisions (roughly one third of its force), for defence of the Maginot Line in Alsace and Lorraine, whereas the opposing German Heeresgruppe C only contained 19 divisions, or less than one seventh of the total force committed in Fall Gelb.

The line was built in several phases from 1930 by the STG (Service Technique du Génie) overseen by CORF (Commission d'Organisation des Régions Fortifiées). The main construction was largely completed by 1939, at a cost of around 3 billion
1000000000 (number)
1,000,000,000 is the natural number following 999,999,999 and preceding 1,000,000,001.In scientific notation, it is written as 109....

 French franc
French franc
The franc was a currency of France. Along with the Spanish peseta, it was also a de facto currency used in Andorra . Between 1360 and 1641, it was the name of coins worth 1 livre tournois and it remained in common parlance as a term for this amount of money...

s.

The line stretched from Switzerland
Switzerland
Switzerland name of one of the Swiss cantons. ; ; ; or ), in its full name the Swiss Confederation , is a federal republic consisting of 26 cantons, with Bern as the seat of the federal authorities. The country is situated in Western Europe,Or Central Europe depending on the definition....

 to Luxembourg
Luxembourg
Luxembourg , officially the Grand Duchy of Luxembourg , is a landlocked country in western Europe, bordered by Belgium, France, and Germany. It has two principal regions: the Oesling in the North as part of the Ardennes massif, and the Gutland in the south...

, and a much lighter extension was extended to the Strait of Dover
Strait of Dover
The Strait of Dover or Dover Strait is the strait at the narrowest part of the English Channel. The shortest distance across the strait is from the South Foreland, 6 kilometres northeast of Dover in the county of Kent, England, to Cap Gris Nez, a cape near to Calais in the French of...

 after 1934. The original line construction did not cover the area chosen by the Germans for their first challenge, which was through the Ardennes
Ardennes
The Ardennes is a region of extensive forests, rolling hills and ridges formed within the Givetian Ardennes mountain range, primarily in Belgium and Luxembourg, but stretching into France , and geologically into the Eifel...

 in 1940, a plan known as Fall Gelb. The location of this attack, probably because of the Maginot Line, was through the Belgian Ardennes forest (sector 4) which is off the map to the left of Maginot Line sector 6 (as marked).

Purposes


The Maginot Line was built to fulfil several purposes:
  • To avoid a surprise attack and to give alarm.
  • To cover the mobilisation of the French Army (which took between 2 and 3 weeks).
  • To save manpower (France counted inhabitants, Germany ).
  • To protect Alsace
    Alsace
    Alsace is the fifth-smallest of the 27 regions of France in land area , and the smallest in metropolitan France. It is also the seventh-most densely populated region in France and third most densely populated region in metropolitan France, with ca. 220 inhabitants per km²...

     and Lorraine
    Lorraine (province)
    The Duchy of Upper Lorraine was an historical duchy roughly corresponding with the present-day northeastern Lorraine region of France, including parts of modern Luxembourg and Germany. The main cities were Metz, Verdun, and the historic capital Nancy....

     (returned to France in 1918) and their industrial basin.
  • To be used as a basis for a counter-offensive.
  • To push the enemy to circumvent it while passing by Switzerland
    Switzerland
    Switzerland name of one of the Swiss cantons. ; ; ; or ), in its full name the Swiss Confederation , is a federal republic consisting of 26 cantons, with Bern as the seat of the federal authorities. The country is situated in Western Europe,Or Central Europe depending on the definition....

     or Belgium
    Belgium
    Belgium , officially the Kingdom of Belgium, is a federal state in Western Europe. It is a founding member of the European Union and hosts the EU's headquarters, and those of several other major international organisations such as NATO.Belgium is also a member of, or affiliated to, many...

    .
  • To hold the enemy while the main army could be brought up to reinforce the line.
  • To show non aggressive posture, and compel the British to help France if Belgium is invaded

Organisation



Although the name "Maginot Line" suggests a rather thin linear fortification, the line was quite deep, varying in depth (i.e., from the border to the rear area) from between 20 to 25 km (12.4 to 15.5 mi). It was composed of an intricate system of strong points, fortifications, and military facilities such as border guard posts, communications centres, infantry shelters, barricades, artillery, machine gun, and anti-tank gun emplacements, supply depots, infrastructure facilities, observation posts, etc. These various structures reinforced a principal line of resistance, made up of the most heavily armed "ouvrages", which can be roughly translated as fortresses or major defensive works.

From the front and proceeding to the rear, the line was composed of:
  • Border Post line (1): This consisted of blockhouses and strong houses which were often camouflaged as inoffensive residential homes, built within a few metres of the border, and manned by troops so as to give alarm in the event of sneak or surprise attack as well as delay enemy tanks with prepared explosives and barricades.

  • Outpost and Support Point line (2): Approximately 5 kilometres (3 mi) behind the border, a line of anti-tank blockhouses were intended to provide resistance to armoured assault sufficient to delay the enemy so as to allow the crews of the "C.O.R.F. ouvrages" to be ready at their battle stations. These outposts covered major passages within the principal line.

  • Principal line of resistance (3): This line began 10 kilometres (6 mi) behind the border. It was preceded by anti-tank obstacles which were metal rails planted vertically in 6 rows with heights varying from 0.7 metre and buried to a depth of 2 metre. These anti-tank obstacles extended from end to end in front of the major works across hundreds of kilometres (miles), interrupted only by extremely dense forests, rivers, or other nearly impassable terrain.

The anti-tank obstacle system was immediately followed by an anti-personnel obstacle system made primarily of very dense barbed wire. Anti-tank road barriers also made it possible to block roads at necessary points of passage through the tank obstacles.

  • Infantry Casemates (4): These bunkers were armed with twin machine-guns (abbreviated as JM in French) and anti-tank guns of 37 or. They could be single (with only one firing room in only one direction) or double (two firing rooms, in 2 opposite directions). These generally had 2 floors, with a firing level and a support/infrastructure level that provided the troops with rest and services (power generating units, reserves of water, fuel, food, ventilation equipment, etc.). The infantry casemates often had 1 or 2 "cloches" or turrets located on top of them. These GFM cloches sometimes were used to emplace machine guns or observation periscopes. Their crew was 20 to 30 men.

  • Petits ouvrages (5): These small fortresses reinforced the line of infantry bunkers. The petits ouvrages were generally made up of several infantry bunkers connected by an underground tunnel network to which were attached various buried facilities, such as barracks, electric generators, ventilation systems, mess halls, infirmaries, and supply caches. Their crew consisted of between 100 and 200 men.

  • Ouvrages (6): These fortresses were the most important fortifications on the Maginot Line, having the sturdiest construction and also the heaviest artillery. These were composed of at least six "forward bunker systems" or "combat blocks", as well as two entrances, and were interconnected via a network of underground tunnels that often featured narrow gauge electric railways for transport between bunker systems. The various blocks contained necessary infrastructure such as power stations with generating units, independent ventilating systems, barracks and mess halls, kitchens, water storage and distribution systems, hoists, ammunition stores, workshops, and stores of spare parts, food, etc. Their crews ranged from 500 to more than 1000 men.


  • Observation Posts (7) were located on hills that provided a good view of the surrounding area. Their purpose was to locate the enemy and direct and correct the indirect fire of artillery from the artillery fortifications as well as to report on the progress and position of key enemy units. These are large reinforced buried concrete bunkers, equipped with armoured turrets containing high-precision optics that were connected with the other fortifications by field telephone and wireless transmitters (known in French by the acronym T.S.F.).

  • Telephone Network (8): This system connected every fortification in the Maginot Line, including bunkers, infantry and artillery fortresses, observation posts, and shelters. Two telephone wires were placed parallel to the line of fortifications, providing redundancy in the event of a wire getting cut. There were places along the cable where dismounted soldiers could connect to the network.

  • Infantry Reserve Shelters (9): These were found between 500 and 1000 m (1,640.4 and 3,280.8 ft) behind of the principal line of resistance. These were buried concrete bunkers designed to house and shelter up to a company of infantry (200 to 250 men), and had such features as electric generators, ventilation systems, water supplies, kitchens and heating, which allowed their occupants to hold out in the event of an attack. They could also be used as a local headquarters and as a base from which to carry out counter-attacks.

  • Flood Zones (10) were natural basins or rivers that could be flooded on demand and thus constitute an additional obstacle in the event of an enemy offensive.


  • Safety Quarters (11) were built near the major fortifications in order to make it possible for fortress ("ouvrage") crews to reach their battle stations within the shortest possible time in the event of a surprise or sneak attack during peacetime.

  • Supply depots (12).

  • Ammunition dumps (13).

  • Narrow Gauge Railway System (14): A network of narrow-gauge railways was built so as to rearm and resupply the major fortresses ("ouvrages") from supply depots up to 50 kilometres (31.1 mi) away. Petrol-engined armoured locomotives pulled supply trains along these narrow-gauge lines. (A similar system was developed with armoured steam engines back in 1914-1918.)

  • High-voltage Transmission Lines (15), initially above-ground but then buried, and connected to the civil power grid, provided electric power to the many fortifications and fortresses.

  • Heavy rail artillery (16) was hauled in by locomotives to predesignated locations so as to support the pre-emplaced artillery located in the fortresses, which was intentionally limited in range to 10–12 km (6.2–7.5 mi).

Ouvrages


There are 142 ouvrages, 352 casemates, 78 shelters, 17 observatories and around blockhouses in the Maginot Line.

Armoured cloches


There are several kinds of armoured cloches. The word cloche is a French term meaning bell due to its shape. All cloches were made in an alloy steel. Cloches are non-retractable turrets.
  • The most widespread are the GFM cloche
    GFM cloche
    The GFM cloche was one of the most common defensive armaments on the Maginot Line. A cloche was a fixed and non-retractable firing position made of a thick iron casting which shielded its occupant...

    s
    , where GFM means Guetteur fusil-mitrailleur (machine-gun sentry). They are composed of 3 to 4 openings, called crenels or embrasures. These crenels may be equipped as follows: Rifle machine-gun, direct vision block, binoculars block or 50 mm (2 in) mortar. Sometimes, the cloche is topped by a periscope. There are GFM cloches on the line. Almost every block, casemate and shelter is topped by one or two GFM cloches.
  • The JM cloche
    JM cloche
    The JM cloche is an element of the Maginot Line. It is a non-retractable non-rotating cupola of steel alloy like GFM cloches, but are armed with twin heavy machine guns, as opposed to the lighter automatic rifles associated with the GFM. There are 179 JM cloches on the Maginot Line.JM is an acronym...

    s
    are the same as the GFM cloches except that they have one opening equipped with a pair of machine-guns. There are 174 JM cloches on the line.
  • There are 72 AM cloches (armes mixtes or "mixed weapons") on the line, equipped with a pair of machine guns and a 25 mm (0.984251968503937 in) anti-tank gun. Some GFM cloches were transformed into AM cloches in 1934. (The aforementioned total does not include these modified cloches.)
  • There are 75 LG cloche
    LG cloche
    The LG cloche was a defensive element common to many Maginot Line ouvrages. The fixed cupola was deeply embedded into the concrete on top of a combat block, with only the top surface visible. The opening permitted the ejection of grenades from the interior of the cloche, providing a means of...

    s
    (lance-grenade - grenade launcher) on the line. Those cloches are almost completely covered by concrete, with only a small hole through which grenades were launched for local defence.
  • There are 20 VP cloches (periscopic vision) on the line. These cloches could be equipped with several different periscopes. Like the LG cloches, they were almost completely covered by concrete.
  • The VDP cloche
    VDP cloche
    The VDP cloche was an element of the Maginot Line fortifications. A cloche was a fixed and non-retractable firing position made of a thick iron casting which shielded its occupant. By comparison, turrets could be rotated and sometimes lowered so that only the top shell was exposed. VDP cloches...

    s
    (direct and periscopic vision) are similar to the VP cloches, but have two or three openings to provide a direct view. Consequently, they were not covered by concrete.


The Maginot Line , named after the French Minister of War
Minister of Defence (France)
The Minister of Defense and Veterans Affairs is the French government cabinet member charged with running the military of France....

 André Maginot
André Maginot
André Maginot was a French civil servant, soldier, and Member of Parliament. He is undoubtedly best known for his advocacy for the string of forts that would be known as the Maginot Line.- Early years, to World War I :...

, was a line of concrete fortification
Fortification
Fortifications are military constructions and buildings designed for defence in warfare and military bases. Humans have constructed defensive works for many thousands of years, in a variety of increasingly complex designs...

s, tank obstacles, artillery casemate
Casemate
A casemate, sometimes rendered casement, is a fortified gun emplacement or armored structure from which guns are fired. originally a vaulted chamber in a fortress.-Origin of the term:...

s, machine gun posts, and other defences, which France
France
The French Republic , The French Republic , The French Republic , (commonly known as France , is a unitary semi-presidential republic in Western Europe with several overseas territories and islands located on other continents and in the Indian, Pacific, and Atlantic oceans. Metropolitan France...

 constructed along its borders with Germany and Italy, in light of its experience in World War I
World War I
World War I , which was predominantly called the World War or the Great War from its occurrence until 1939, and the First World War or World War I thereafter, was a major war centred in Europe that began on 28 July 1914 and lasted until 11 November 1918...

, and in the run-up to World War II
World War II
World War II, or the Second World War , was a global conflict lasting from 1939 to 1945, involving most of the world's nations—including all of the great powers—eventually forming two opposing military alliances: the Allies and the Axis...

. Generally the term describes only the defences facing Germany, while the term Alpine Line
Alpine Line
The Alpine Line or Little Maginot Line was the component of the Maginot Line that defended the southeastern portion of France...

 is used for the Franco-Italian defences.

The French established the fortification to provide time for their army to mobilise in the event of attack, allowing French forces to move into Belgium for a decisive confrontation with German forces. The success of static, defensive combat in World War I was a key influence on French thinking. Military experts extolled the Maginot Line as a work of genius, believing it would prevent any further invasions from the east (notably, from Germany). It was also a product of a historical inferiority in population and birthrate, exacerbated by the losses in World War One, which had been developing for three generations. The fortification system successfully dissuaded a direct attack. It was strategically ineffective, as the Germans indeed invaded Belgium, defeated the French army, flanked
Flanking maneuver
In military tactics, a flanking maneuver, also called a flank attack, is an attack on the sides of an opposing force. If a flanking maneuver succeeds, the opposing force would be surrounded from two or more directions, which significantly reduces the maneuverability of the outflanked force and its...

 the Maginot Line, through the Ardennes forest and via the Low countries
Low Countries
The Low Countries are the historical lands around the low-lying delta of the Rhine, Scheldt, and Meuse rivers, including the modern countries of Belgium, the Netherlands, Luxembourg and parts of northern France and western Germany....

, completely sweeping by the line and conquering France in days. As such, the Maginot Line has come to mean a strategy or object that people put hope into but fails miserably. It is also the best known symbol of the adage that "generals always fight the last war, especially if they have won it".

The Maginot Line was impervious to most forms of attack, and had state-of-the-art living conditions for garrisoned troops, including air conditioning, comfortable eating areas and underground railways. However, it proved costly to keep, consumed a vast amount of money and subsequently led to other parts of the French Armed Forces being underfunded.

Planning and construction



The defences were first proposed by Marshal Joffre
Joseph Joffre
Joseph Jacques Césaire Joffre OM was a French general during World War I. He is most known for regrouping the retreating allied armies to defeat the Germans at the strategically decisive First Battle of the Marne in 1914. His popularity led to his nickname Papa Joffre.-Biography:Joffre was born in...

. He was opposed by modernists such as Paul Reynaud
Paul Reynaud
Paul Reynaud was a French politician and lawyer prominent in the interwar period, noted for his stances on economic liberalism and militant opposition to Germany. He was the penultimate Prime Minister of the Third Republic and vice-president of the Democratic Republican Alliance center-right...

 and Charles de Gaulle
Charles de Gaulle
Charles André Joseph Marie de Gaulle was a French general and statesman who led the Free French Forces during World War II. He later founded the French Fifth Republic in 1958 and served as its first President from 1959 to 1969....

 who favoured investment in armour and aircraft. Joffre had support from Henri Philippe Pétain, and there were a number of reports and commissions organised by the government. It was André Maginot
André Maginot
André Maginot was a French civil servant, soldier, and Member of Parliament. He is undoubtedly best known for his advocacy for the string of forts that would be known as the Maginot Line.- Early years, to World War I :...

 who finally convinced the government to invest in the scheme. Maginot was another veteran of World War I, who became the French Minister of Veteran Affairs and then Minister of War (1928–1931).

Part of the rationale for the Maginot Line stemmed from the severe French losses during the First World War, and their effects on French demographics. The drop in the national birth rate during and after the war, resulting from a national shortage of young men created an "echo" effect in the generation that provided the French conscript army in the mid-1930s. Faced with inadequate personnel resources, French planners had to rely more on older and less fit reservists, who would take longer to mobilise, and would diminish French industry because they would leave their jobs. Static defensive positions were therefore intended not only to buy time, but also to defend an area with fewer and less mobile forces. In practice, France deployed about twice as many men, 36 divisions (roughly one third of its force), for defence of the Maginot Line in Alsace and Lorraine, whereas the opposing German Heeresgruppe C only contained 19 divisions, or less than one seventh of the total force committed in Fall Gelb.

The line was built in several phases from 1930 by the STG (Service Technique du Génie) overseen by CORF (Commission d'Organisation des Régions Fortifiées). The main construction was largely completed by 1939, at a cost of around 3 billion
1000000000 (number)
1,000,000,000 is the natural number following 999,999,999 and preceding 1,000,000,001.In scientific notation, it is written as 109....

 French franc
French franc
The franc was a currency of France. Along with the Spanish peseta, it was also a de facto currency used in Andorra . Between 1360 and 1641, it was the name of coins worth 1 livre tournois and it remained in common parlance as a term for this amount of money...

s.

The line stretched from Switzerland
Switzerland
Switzerland name of one of the Swiss cantons. ; ; ; or ), in its full name the Swiss Confederation , is a federal republic consisting of 26 cantons, with Bern as the seat of the federal authorities. The country is situated in Western Europe,Or Central Europe depending on the definition....

 to Luxembourg
Luxembourg
Luxembourg , officially the Grand Duchy of Luxembourg , is a landlocked country in western Europe, bordered by Belgium, France, and Germany. It has two principal regions: the Oesling in the North as part of the Ardennes massif, and the Gutland in the south...

, and a much lighter extension was extended to the Strait of Dover
Strait of Dover
The Strait of Dover or Dover Strait is the strait at the narrowest part of the English Channel. The shortest distance across the strait is from the South Foreland, 6 kilometres northeast of Dover in the county of Kent, England, to Cap Gris Nez, a cape near to Calais in the French of...

 after 1934. The original line construction did not cover the area chosen by the Germans for their first challenge, which was through the Ardennes
Ardennes
The Ardennes is a region of extensive forests, rolling hills and ridges formed within the Givetian Ardennes mountain range, primarily in Belgium and Luxembourg, but stretching into France , and geologically into the Eifel...

 in 1940, a plan known as Fall Gelb. The location of this attack, probably because of the Maginot Line, was through the Belgian Ardennes forest (sector 4) which is off the map to the left of Maginot Line sector 6 (as marked).

Purposes


The Maginot Line was built to fulfil several purposes:
  • To avoid a surprise attack and to give alarm.
  • To cover the mobilisation of the French Army (which took between 2 and 3 weeks).
  • To save manpower (France counted inhabitants, Germany ).
  • To protect Alsace
    Alsace
    Alsace is the fifth-smallest of the 27 regions of France in land area , and the smallest in metropolitan France. It is also the seventh-most densely populated region in France and third most densely populated region in metropolitan France, with ca. 220 inhabitants per km²...

     and Lorraine
    Lorraine (province)
    The Duchy of Upper Lorraine was an historical duchy roughly corresponding with the present-day northeastern Lorraine region of France, including parts of modern Luxembourg and Germany. The main cities were Metz, Verdun, and the historic capital Nancy....

     (returned to France in 1918) and their industrial basin.
  • To be used as a basis for a counter-offensive.
  • To push the enemy to circumvent it while passing by Switzerland
    Switzerland
    Switzerland name of one of the Swiss cantons. ; ; ; or ), in its full name the Swiss Confederation , is a federal republic consisting of 26 cantons, with Bern as the seat of the federal authorities. The country is situated in Western Europe,Or Central Europe depending on the definition....

     or Belgium
    Belgium
    Belgium , officially the Kingdom of Belgium, is a federal state in Western Europe. It is a founding member of the European Union and hosts the EU's headquarters, and those of several other major international organisations such as NATO.Belgium is also a member of, or affiliated to, many...

    .
  • To hold the enemy while the main army could be brought up to reinforce the line.
  • To show non aggressive posture, and compel the British to help France if Belgium is invaded

Organisation



Although the name "Maginot Line" suggests a rather thin linear fortification, the line was quite deep, varying in depth (i.e., from the border to the rear area) from between 20 to 25 km (12.4 to 15.5 mi). It was composed of an intricate system of strong points, fortifications, and military facilities such as border guard posts, communications centres, infantry shelters, barricades, artillery, machine gun, and anti-tank gun emplacements, supply depots, infrastructure facilities, observation posts, etc. These various structures reinforced a principal line of resistance, made up of the most heavily armed "ouvrages", which can be roughly translated as fortresses or major defensive works.

From the front and proceeding to the rear, the line was composed of:
  • Border Post line (1): This consisted of blockhouses and strong houses which were often camouflaged as inoffensive residential homes, built within a few metres of the border, and manned by troops so as to give alarm in the event of sneak or surprise attack as well as delay enemy tanks with prepared explosives and barricades.

  • Outpost and Support Point line (2): Approximately 5 kilometres (3 mi) behind the border, a line of anti-tank blockhouses were intended to provide resistance to armoured assault sufficient to delay the enemy so as to allow the crews of the "C.O.R.F. ouvrages" to be ready at their battle stations. These outposts covered major passages within the principal line.

  • Principal line of resistance (3): This line began 10 kilometres (6 mi) behind the border. It was preceded by anti-tank obstacles which were metal rails planted vertically in 6 rows with heights varying from 0.7 metre and buried to a depth of 2 metre. These anti-tank obstacles extended from end to end in front of the major works across hundreds of kilometres (miles), interrupted only by extremely dense forests, rivers, or other nearly impassable terrain.

The anti-tank obstacle system was immediately followed by an anti-personnel obstacle system made primarily of very dense barbed wire. Anti-tank road barriers also made it possible to block roads at necessary points of passage through the tank obstacles.

  • Infantry Casemates (4): These bunkers were armed with twin machine-guns (abbreviated as JM in French) and anti-tank guns of 37 or. They could be single (with only one firing room in only one direction) or double (two firing rooms, in 2 opposite directions). These generally had 2 floors, with a firing level and a support/infrastructure level that provided the troops with rest and services (power generating units, reserves of water, fuel, food, ventilation equipment, etc.). The infantry casemates often had 1 or 2 "cloches" or turrets located on top of them. These GFM cloches sometimes were used to emplace machine guns or observation periscopes. Their crew was 20 to 30 men.

  • Petits ouvrages (5): These small fortresses reinforced the line of infantry bunkers. The petits ouvrages were generally made up of several infantry bunkers connected by an underground tunnel network to which were attached various buried facilities, such as barracks, electric generators, ventilation systems, mess halls, infirmaries, and supply caches. Their crew consisted of between 100 and 200 men.

  • Ouvrages (6): These fortresses were the most important fortifications on the Maginot Line, having the sturdiest construction and also the heaviest artillery. These were composed of at least six "forward bunker systems" or "combat blocks", as well as two entrances, and were interconnected via a network of underground tunnels that often featured narrow gauge electric railways for transport between bunker systems. The various blocks contained necessary infrastructure such as power stations with generating units, independent ventilating systems, barracks and mess halls, kitchens, water storage and distribution systems, hoists, ammunition stores, workshops, and stores of spare parts, food, etc. Their crews ranged from 500 to more than 1000 men.


  • Observation Posts (7) were located on hills that provided a good view of the surrounding area. Their purpose was to locate the enemy and direct and correct the indirect fire of artillery from the artillery fortifications as well as to report on the progress and position of key enemy units. These are large reinforced buried concrete bunkers, equipped with armoured turrets containing high-precision optics that were connected with the other fortifications by field telephone and wireless transmitters (known in French by the acronym T.S.F.).

  • Telephone Network (8): This system connected every fortification in the Maginot Line, including bunkers, infantry and artillery fortresses, observation posts, and shelters. Two telephone wires were placed parallel to the line of fortifications, providing redundancy in the event of a wire getting cut. There were places along the cable where dismounted soldiers could connect to the network.

  • Infantry Reserve Shelters (9): These were found between 500 and 1000 m (1,640.4 and 3,280.8 ft) behind of the principal line of resistance. These were buried concrete bunkers designed to house and shelter up to a company of infantry (200 to 250 men), and had such features as electric generators, ventilation systems, water supplies, kitchens and heating, which allowed their occupants to hold out in the event of an attack. They could also be used as a local headquarters and as a base from which to carry out counter-attacks.

  • Flood Zones (10) were natural basins or rivers that could be flooded on demand and thus constitute an additional obstacle in the event of an enemy offensive.


  • Safety Quarters (11) were built near the major fortifications in order to make it possible for fortress ("ouvrage") crews to reach their battle stations within the shortest possible time in the event of a surprise or sneak attack during peacetime.

  • Supply depots (12).

  • Ammunition dumps (13).

  • Narrow Gauge Railway System (14): A network of narrow-gauge railways was built so as to rearm and resupply the major fortresses ("ouvrages") from supply depots up to 50 kilometres (31.1 mi) away. Petrol-engined armoured locomotives pulled supply trains along these narrow-gauge lines. (A similar system was developed with armoured steam engines back in 1914-1918.)

  • High-voltage Transmission Lines (15), initially above-ground but then buried, and connected to the civil power grid, provided electric power to the many fortifications and fortresses.

  • Heavy rail artillery (16) was hauled in by locomotives to predesignated locations so as to support the pre-emplaced artillery located in the fortresses, which was intentionally limited in range to 10–12 km (6.2–7.5 mi).

Ouvrages


There are 142 ouvrages, 352 casemates, 78 shelters, 17 observatories and around blockhouses in the Maginot Line.

Armoured cloches


There are several kinds of armoured cloches. The word cloche is a French term meaning bell due to its shape. All cloches were made in an alloy steel. Cloches are non-retractable turrets.
  • The most widespread are the GFM cloche
    GFM cloche
    The GFM cloche was one of the most common defensive armaments on the Maginot Line. A cloche was a fixed and non-retractable firing position made of a thick iron casting which shielded its occupant...

    s
    , where GFM means Guetteur fusil-mitrailleur (machine-gun sentry). They are composed of 3 to 4 openings, called crenels or embrasures. These crenels may be equipped as follows: Rifle machine-gun, direct vision block, binoculars block or 50 mm (2 in) mortar. Sometimes, the cloche is topped by a periscope. There are GFM cloches on the line. Almost every block, casemate and shelter is topped by one or two GFM cloches.
  • The JM cloche
    JM cloche
    The JM cloche is an element of the Maginot Line. It is a non-retractable non-rotating cupola of steel alloy like GFM cloches, but are armed with twin heavy machine guns, as opposed to the lighter automatic rifles associated with the GFM. There are 179 JM cloches on the Maginot Line.JM is an acronym...

    s
    are the same as the GFM cloches except that they have one opening equipped with a pair of machine-guns. There are 174 JM cloches on the line.
  • There are 72 AM cloches (armes mixtes or "mixed weapons") on the line, equipped with a pair of machine guns and a 25 mm (0.984251968503937 in) anti-tank gun. Some GFM cloches were transformed into AM cloches in 1934. (The aforementioned total does not include these modified cloches.)
  • There are 75 LG cloche
    LG cloche
    The LG cloche was a defensive element common to many Maginot Line ouvrages. The fixed cupola was deeply embedded into the concrete on top of a combat block, with only the top surface visible. The opening permitted the ejection of grenades from the interior of the cloche, providing a means of...

    s
    (lance-grenade - grenade launcher) on the line. Those cloches are almost completely covered by concrete, with only a small hole through which grenades were launched for local defence.
  • There are 20 VP cloches (periscopic vision) on the line. These cloches could be equipped with several different periscopes. Like the LG cloches, they were almost completely covered by concrete.
  • The VDP cloche
    VDP cloche
    The VDP cloche was an element of the Maginot Line fortifications. A cloche was a fixed and non-retractable firing position made of a thick iron casting which shielded its occupant. By comparison, turrets could be rotated and sometimes lowered so that only the top shell was exposed. VDP cloches...

    s
    (direct and periscopic vision) are similar to the VP cloches, but have two or three openings to provide a direct view. Consequently, they were not covered by concrete.





Retractable turrets


The line included the following retractable turrets.
  • 21 turrets of 75 mm (3 in) model 1933
  • 12 turrets of 75 mm (3 in) model 1932
  • 1 turret of 75 mm (3 in) model 1905
  • 17 turrets of 135 mm (5.3 in)
  • 21 turrets of 81 mm (3.2 in)
  • 12 turrets for mixed weapons (AM)
  • 7 turrets for mixed weapons + mortar of 50 mm (2 in)
  • 61 turrets of machine-guns




Image:Turret75.JPG|75 mm (3 in) Turret model 1932
Image:135Turret.JPG|135 mm (5.3 in) Turret
Image:81Turret.JPG|81 mm (3.2 in) Turret
Image:Tourelle jm.jpg|Machine-gun Turret
Image:AMTurret.JPG|AM (Mixed-Weapons) Turret


Artillery


Features


The specification of the defences was very high, with extensive and interconnected bunker
Bunker
A military bunker is a hardened shelter, often buried partly or fully underground, designed to protect the inhabitants from falling bombs or other attacks...

 complexes for thousands of men; there were 45 main forts (grands ouvrages) at intervals of 15 kilometres (9.3 mi), 97 smaller forts (petits ouvrages) and 352 casemates between, with over 100 kilometres (62.1 mi) of tunnel
Tunnel
A tunnel is an underground passageway, completely enclosed except for openings for egress, commonly at each end.A tunnel may be for foot or vehicular road traffic, for rail traffic, or for a canal. Some tunnels are aqueducts to supply water for consumption or for hydroelectric stations or are sewers...

s. Artillery was coordinated with protective measures to ensure that one fort could support the next in line by bombarding it directly without harm. The largest guns were therefore 135 mm (5.3 in) fortress guns; larger weapons were to be part of the mobile forces and were to be deployed behind the lines.

The fortifications did not extend through the Ardennes Forest
Ardennes
The Ardennes is a region of extensive forests, rolling hills and ridges formed within the Givetian Ardennes mountain range, primarily in Belgium and Luxembourg, but stretching into France , and geologically into the Eifel...

 (which was believed to be impenetrable by Commander in Chief Maurice Gamelin
Maurice Gamelin
Maurice Gustave Gamelin was a French general. Gamelin is best remembered for his unsuccessful command of the French military in 1940 during the Battle of France and his steadfast defense of republican values....

) or along France's border with Belgium, because the two countries had signed an alliance in 1920, by which the French army would operate in Belgium if the German forces invaded. After France failed to counter Germany's remilitarisation of the Rhineland
Rhineland
Historically, the Rhinelands refers to a loosely-defined region embracing the land on either bank of the River Rhine in central Europe....

, Belgium, thinking that France was not a reliable ally, abrogated the treaty in 1936 and declared neutrality
Neutral country
A neutral power in a particular war is a sovereign state which declares itself to be neutral towards the belligerents. A non-belligerent state does not need to be neutral. The rights and duties of a neutral power are defined in Sections 5 and 13 of the Hague Convention of 1907...

. France quickly extended the Maginot Line along the Franco-Belgian border, but not to the standard of the rest of the line. As the water table
Water table
The water table is the level at which the submarine pressure is far from atmospheric pressure. It may be conveniently visualized as the 'surface' of the subsurface materials that are saturated with groundwater in a given vicinity. However, saturated conditions may extend above the water table as...

 in this region was high, there was the danger of underground passages getting flooded, which the designers of the line knew would be difficult and expensive to overcome.

When the British Expeditionary Force
British Expeditionary Force (World War II)
The British Expeditionary Force was the British force in Europe from 1939–1940 during the Second World War. Commanded by General Lord Gort, the BEF constituted one-tenth of the defending Allied force....

 landed in France in September 1939, they and the French reinforced and extended the Maginot line to the sea in a flurry of construction in 1939–1940 accompanied by general improvements all along the line. The final line was strongest around the industrial regions of Metz
Metz
Metz is a city in the northeast of France located at the confluence of the Moselle and the Seille rivers.Metz is the capital of the Lorraine region and prefecture of the Moselle department. Located near the tripoint along the junction of France, Germany, and Luxembourg, Metz forms a central place...

, Lauter
Lauter
Lauter may refer to:In towns:*Lauter, Saxony, town in the district of Aue-Schwarzenberg, Saxony, Germany*Lauter, Bavaria, village in the district of Bamberg, Bavaria, GermanyIn rivers:*Lauter , tributary to the Baunach, Germany...

 and Alsace
Alsace
Alsace is the fifth-smallest of the 27 regions of France in land area , and the smallest in metropolitan France. It is also the seventh-most densely populated region in France and third most densely populated region in metropolitan France, with ca. 220 inhabitants per km²...

, while other areas were in comparison only weakly guarded. In contrast, the propaganda about the line made it appear far greater a construction than it was; illustrations showed multiple stories of interwoven passages, and even underground railyards and cinemas. This reassured Allied civilians.

Czech connection


Czechoslovakia
Czechoslovakia
Czechoslovakia or Czecho-Slovakia was a sovereign state in Central Europe which existed from October 1918, when it declared its independence from the Austro-Hungarian Empire, until 1992...

 also was in fear of Hitler and began building its own defences. As an ally of France, they were able to get advice on the Maginot design and apply it to Czechoslovak border fortifications
Czechoslovak border fortifications
The Czechoslovak government built a system of border fortifications from 1935 to 1938 as a defensive countermeasure against the rising threat of Nazi Germany that later materialized in the German offensive plan called Fall Grün...

. The design of the casemates is similar to the ones found in the southern part of the Maginot Line, and photos of such are often confused with those of the Maginot. With the Munich Agreement
Munich Agreement
The Munich Pact was an agreement permitting the Nazi German annexation of Czechoslovakia's Sudetenland. The Sudetenland were areas along Czech borders, mainly inhabited by ethnic Germans. The agreement was negotiated at a conference held in Munich, Germany, among the major powers of Europe without...

 the Germans were able to use the Czech fortifications to study and plan attacks that proved very successful against the western fortifications (the Belgian Fort Eben-Emael
Fort Eben-Emael
Fort Eben-Emael is an inactive Belgian fortress located between Liège and Maastricht, on the Belgian-Dutch border, near the Albert Canal, and designed to defend Belgium from a German attack across the narrow belt of Dutch territory in the region. Constructed in 1931–1935, it was reputed to be...

 is the best known example).

German invasion in World War II


The World War II German invasion
Battle of France
In the Second World War, the Battle of France was the German invasion of France and the Low Countries, beginning on 10 May 1940, which ended the Phoney War. The battle consisted of two main operations. In the first, Fall Gelb , German armoured units pushed through the Ardennes, to cut off and...

 plan of 1940 (Sichelschnitt) was designed to deal with the line. A decoy force sat opposite the line while a second Army Group cut through the Low Countries
Low Countries
The Low Countries are the historical lands around the low-lying delta of the Rhine, Scheldt, and Meuse rivers, including the modern countries of Belgium, the Netherlands, Luxembourg and parts of northern France and western Germany....

 of Belgium and the Netherlands, as well as through the Ardennes Forest which lay north of the main French defences. Thus the Germans were able to avoid a direct assault on the Maginot Line by violating the neutrality
Neutrality (international relations)
A neutral power in a particular war is a sovereign state which declares itself to be neutral towards the belligerents. A non-belligerent state does not need to be neutral. The rights and duties of a neutral power are defined in Sections 5 and 13 of the Hague Convention of 1907...

 of Belgium, Luxembourg and the Netherlands. Attacking on 10 May, German forces were well into France within five days and they continued to advance until 24 May, when they stopped near Dunkirk.

During the advance to the English Channel, the Germans overran France's border defence with Belgium and several Maginot Forts in the Maubeuge
Maubeuge
Maubeuge is a commune in the Nord department in northern France.It is situated on both banks of the Sambre , east of Valenciennes and about from the Belgian border.-History:...

 area, whilst the Luftwaffe simply flew over it. On 19 May, the German 16th Army successfully captured petit ouvrage La Ferte (southeast of Sedan) after conducting a deliberate assault by combat engineers backed up by heavy artillery. The entire French crew of 107 soldiers was killed during the action. On , the day Paris fell, the German 1st Army went over to the offensive in "Operation Tiger" and attacked the Maginot Line between St. Avold and Saarbrücken
Saarbrücken
Saarbrücken is the capital of the state of Saarland in Germany. The city is situated at the heart of a metropolitan area that borders on the west on Dillingen and to the north-east on Neunkirchen, where most of the people of the Saarland live....

. The Germans then broke through the fortification line as defending French forces retreated southward. In the following days, infantry divisions of the 1st Army attacked fortifications on each side of the penetration; successfully capturing four petits ouvrages. The 1st Army also conducted two attacks against the Maginot Line further to the east in northern Alsace. One attack successfully broke through a weak section of the line in the Vosges Mountains
Vosges mountains
For the department of France of the same name, see Vosges.The Vosges are a range of low mountains in eastern France, near its border with Germany. They extend along the west side of the Rhine valley in a northnortheast direction, mainly from Belfort to Saverne...

, but a second attack was stopped by the French defenders near Wissembourg
Wissembourg
Wissembourg is a commune in the Bas-Rhin department in Alsace in northeastern France.It is situated on the little River Lauter close to the border between France and Germany approximately north of Strasbourg and west of Karlsruhe. Wissembourg is a sub-prefecture of the department...

. On 15 June, infantry divisions of the German 7th Army attacked across the Rhine River in Operation "Small Bear", penetrating the defences and capturing the cities of Colmar
Colmar
Colmar is a commune in the Haut-Rhin department in Alsace in north-eastern France.It is the capital of the department. Colmar is also the seat of the highest jurisdiction in Alsace, the appellate court....

 and Strasbourg
Strasbourg
Strasbourg is the capital and principal city of the Alsace region in eastern France and is the official seat of the European Parliament. Located close to the border with Germany, it is the capital of the Bas-Rhin département. The city and the region of Alsace are historically German-speaking,...

.

By early June the German forces had cut off the line from the rest of France and the French government was making overtures for an armistice
Armistice
An armistice is a situation in a war where the warring parties agree to stop fighting. It is not necessarily the end of a war, but may be just a cessation of hostilities while an attempt is made to negotiate a lasting peace...

, which was signed on 22 June in Compiègne
Compiègne
Compiègne is a city in northern France. It is designated municipally as a commune within the département of Oise.The city is located along the Oise River...

. As the line was surrounded, the German Army attacked a few ouvrages from the rear, but were unsuccessful in capturing any significant fortifications. But the main fortifications of the line were still mostly intact and manned with a number of commanders wanting to hold out; and the Italian advance had been successfully contained. Still, Maxime Weygand
Maxime Weygand
Maxime Weygand was a French military commander in World War I and World War II.Weygand initially fought against the Germans during the invasion of France in 1940, but then surrendered to and collaborated with the Germans as part of the Vichy France regime.-Early years:Weygand was born in Brussels...

 signed the surrender and the army was ordered out of their fortifications, to be taken to POW camps.

When the Allied forces invaded in June 1944 the line, now held by German defenders, was again largely bypassed, with fighting only touching a part of the fortifications near Metz and in northern Alsace towards the end of 1944. During the German offensive "Operation Nordwind
Operation Nordwind
Operation North Wind was the last major German offensive of World War II on the Western Front. It began on 1 January 1945 in Alsace and Lorraine in northeastern France, and it ended on 25 January.-Objectives:...

" in January 1945, Maginot Line casemates and fortifications were utilized by Allied forces, especially in the region of Hatten-Rittershoffen, and some German units had been supplemented with flamethrower tanks in anticipation of this possibility. At one point during the fighting, General Martin, commander of the IX Corps, was ordered to advance from the Maginot Line against a German division, and thus locked the concrete bunkers and left the keys with a colleague. While his colleague's unit was ordered south to reinforce French cities, Martin was forced to retreat from his unsuccessful attack and found himself pursued by a German tank division, and locked out of his own fortifications. He was forced to employ French engineers and sapper
Sapper
A sapper, pioneer or combat engineer is a combatant soldier who performs a wide variety of combat engineering duties, typically including, but not limited to, bridge-building, laying or clearing minefields, demolitions, field defences, general construction and building, as well as road and airfield...

s to break into the bunkers, which were subsequently overrun by the Germans.

After World War II


After the war the line was re-manned by the French and underwent some modifications. With the rise of the French independent
Force de frappe
The Force de Frappe is the designation of what used to be a triad of air-, sea- and land-based nuclear weapons intended for dissuasion, and consequential deterrence...

 nuclear deterrent by 1960 the line became an expensive anachronism. Some of the larger ouvrages were converted to command centres. When France withdrew from NATO's military component (in 1966) much of the line was abandoned, with the NATO facilities turned back over to French forces and the rest of it auctioned to the public or left to decay. A number of old fortifications have now been turned into wine cellars, a mushroom farm and even a disco. Besides that, a few private houses are built atop some of the blockhouses.

Ouvrage Rochonvillers
Ouvrage Rochonvillers
Ouvrage Rochonvillers is one of the largest of the Maginot Line fortifications. Located above the town of Rochonvillers in the French region of Lorraine, the gros ouvrage or large work was fully equipped and occupied in 1935 as part of the Fortified Sector of Thionville in the Moselle...

 was retained by the French Army as a command centre into the 1990s, but has recently been closed. Ouvrage Hochwald
Ouvrage Hochwald
Ouvrage Hochwald is a gros ouvrage of the Maginot Line, one of the largest fortifications in the Line. Located in the Fortified Sector of Haguenau in the community of Drachenbronn-Birlenbach in the Bas-Rhin department of northeastern France, it was designed to protect the northern Vosges region of...

 is the only facility in the main line that remains in active service, as a hardened command facility for the French Air Force
French Air Force
The French Air Force , literally Army of the Air) is the air force of the French Armed Forces. It was formed in 1909 as the Service Aéronautique, a service arm of the French Army, then was made an independent military arm in 1933...

 known as Drachenbronn Air Base
Drachenbronn Air Base
Drachenbronn Air Base of the French Air Force is located in the community of Drachenbronn-Birlenbach in the Bas-Rhin département. It houses the Centre de détection et de contrôle 05/901....

.

In 1968 when scouting locations for On Her Majesty's Secret Service
On Her Majesty's Secret Service (film)
On Her Majesty's Secret Service is the sixth spy film in the James Bond series, based on the 1963 novel of the same name by Ian Fleming. Following the decision of Sean Connery to retire from the role after You Only Live Twice, Eon Productions selected an unknown actor and model, George Lazenby...

, producer Harry Saltzman
Harry Saltzman
Harry Saltzman was a Canadian theatre and film producer best known for his mega-gamble which resulted in his co-producing the James Bond film series with Albert R...

 used his French contacts to agree to using portions of the Maginot Line as SPECTRE headquarters in the film. Saltzman provided art director
Art director
The art director is a person who supervise the creative process of a design.The term 'art director' is a blanket title for a variety of similar job functions in advertising, publishing, film and television, the Internet, and video games....

 Syd Cain
Syd Cain
Sidney B. "Syd" Cain was a British production designer who worked on more than 30 films, including four in the James Bond series in the 1960s and 1970s....

 with a tour of the complex but Cain said that not only would the location be difficult to light and film inside, but that artificial sets could be constructed at the studios for a fraction of the cost. The idea was shelved.

See also

  • List of all works on Maginot Line
  • List of Alpine Line ouvrages
  • Siegfried Line
    Siegfried Line
    The original Siegfried line was a line of defensive forts and tank defences built by Germany as a section of the Hindenburg Line 1916–1917 in northern France during World War I...

  • Atlantic Wall
    Atlantic Wall
    The Atlantic Wall was an extensive system of coastal fortifications built by Nazi Germany between 1942 and 1944 along the western coast of Europe as a defense against an anticipated Allied invasion of the mainland continent from Great Britain.-History:On March 23, 1942 Führer Directive Number 40...

  • Czechoslovak border fortifications
    Czechoslovak border fortifications
    The Czechoslovak government built a system of border fortifications from 1935 to 1938 as a defensive countermeasure against the rising threat of Nazi Germany that later materialized in the German offensive plan called Fall Grün...

  • Metaxas Line
    Metaxas Line
    The Metaxas Line was a chain of fortifications constructed along the line of the Greco-Bulgarian border, designed to protect Greece in case of a Bulgarian invasion after the rearmament of Bulgaria. It was named after Ioannis Metaxas, the then Prime Minister of Greece, and chiefly consists of...


External links



The Maginot Line (French/English/German/Italian) Fortress of Schoenenbourg, (French/English/German/Italian) Maginot Line (requires Flash) Maginot Line at War, 1940 The U.S. Army vs. The Maginot Line by Bryan J. Dickerson Maginot Line today Armament of Maginot Line (Czech only)