27 August 2015

How I Spent My Summer Vacation: MAGINOT LINE

Always wanted to see this, finally had me a look...

This particular section of France's 1930s-era defensive Maginot Line fortifications -a marvel of engineering at the time- has been extensively restored by enthusiast groups in the area, some of whom I was able to meet with on the visit. This entrance is known as 'Fort de Shoenenbourg', located in a hilltop forest near the German frontier (the Rhein) in the Alsace region of France, about 40 minutes north of Strasbourg.

They did a great job keeping it authentic, really takes you back in time as you wander the 4-5 kms of tunnel and facilities now open to the public. One local involved with the rehabilitation of this part said it was in very, very bad shape when they first got hold of it (from the government). Although originally conceived as a defense against the Germans, the installations were last manned as defensive positions against any possible Warsaw Pact invasion in the early 50s -before France possessed nuclear weaponry- and had sat abandoned ever since...

-click any to enlarge-

Retractable gun turrets guard entrance, narrow-gauge rail
line for troops, cargo runs into main gate

Main gate

Trains switched from (this) Diesel mini-loco to
 an electric one once pulled safely inside the main entrance.

All tunnels in fort shared can run the trains,
which run ferried troops, ammo, etc to the
various gun/observation positions

Tunnels literally kilometers long,
seem to stretch-on into infinity...


Underground street art


Where the guys picked-up their meal tray

Repair/machine shop

Boiler room

Boiler monitoring instruments in hallway

Mess hall

Officers' quarters


Operating room

All tunnel walls have grooves for handy
installation/holding wiring, plumbing, etc.

It smells vaguely of petroleum in some tunnels due
to oil deposits in area leaking through walls (dark areas above)

Electric loco

Mini water-tanker on narrow gauge rail

This compartment in the above two photos lays at the root of tunnels
(to artillery positions) so that if breached by enemy, one tunnel can be
closed-off by demolition explosion with TNT packed here. 

Command room

Telegraphs in touch with Paris and military high command

Code machines

Reports from observation posts wired to this room

Cannon formerly mounted in
retractable turret

Shell rack

Hallways red in firing areas

Back above ground...

Troop entrance to small fort guarding main gate area

Former guard house on road leading to entrance


Other gun positions in the area, just outside the woods,
facing Germany (where else)

This one had suffered a # of direct hits, it seems

This photo Wikipedia

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