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...




Chapel


Underground street art


Kitchen


Where the guys picked-up their meal tray




Repair/machine shop


Boiler room


Boiler monitoring instruments in hallway


Mess hall




Officers' quarters




Infirmary 




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


Alsace




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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