France’s Maginot Line
World War I was the first war in which most nations in the world were engaged in warfare. It was also fought in a different type of way, known as trench warfare, where both sides were in a trench and then one would charge the other side. With this, World War I was also the bloodiest war anyone had seen up until that time period. After this, France started to prepare for another war that they thought would be similar to this one, in the trench warfare style. They started to prepare for a possible invasion, specifically from Germany, which would turn out to be the right idea, as Hitler had planned to take land from surrounding states—specifically the east—but they would eventually lead to wart with France: “He spoke of the need to eliminate democracy and Marxism and create a new domestic unity that would allow for rearmament as the necessary prerequisite for the ‘conquest of Lebensraum’ in the east. This policy, he explained, would eventually lead to war with France.”(1) To prepare for this war, well before it was planned or thought of, French built the Maginot Line.
The Maginot Line was a long series of fortified bunkers that spanned many miles on the France and Germany border. The extent of the Maginot Line, is shown on the map below, red thick line indicating strong fortifications, dotted line indicating weak fortifications. Strong fortification, at points, looked like the second image. It would have high thick concrete walls with openings for machine guns and such to shoot out of.
At major points, the Maginot Line had big bunkers that were generally constructed as shown in the third image. It had different points of defense such as the heavy artillery box and the machine gun nests. To make sure the lower levels had air to breathe, they had an air supply that fed all the way down to the bottom level. There were also sleeping levels, recreational levels, and even a hospital. The Maginot Line was truly a work of art.
Unfortunately for the French, the Germans did not attack at any point along this heavily guarded line. Instead, the Germans invaded through the Ardennes forest, surrounding and defeating the French in a matter of weeks. The effectiveness of the Maginot line was never able to be tested so the French seem to have wasted 20 years and a lot of money, for a defense, it really never got to use.
(1) Jackson Spielvogel and David Redless, Hitler and Nazi Germany, A History 7th ed. (Upper Saddle River, N.J.: Pearson, 2010), 184.
Image 1: Honresp, “The Maginot Line”. accessed 10-29-15. http://www.bing.com/images/search?q=maginot+line&view=detailv2&&id=005748A8F729A82D1AF08D6F73A08F40978C9B84&selectedIndex=2&ccid=iNFnUxce&simid=608037369805146399&thid=OIP.M88d16753171e2205e2c63afe8d75612fH0&ajaxhist=0
Image 2: BlogSpot, “French Maginot Line”. accessed 10-29-15. http://www.bing.com/images/search?q=maginot+line&view=detailv2&id=1B81FEE047934BD77C1CC303D73E1D75BA6E86C9&selectedindex=3&ccid=V1J7TRT5&simid=608018643745833946&thid=OIP.M57527b4d14f98066833c37bcbec925d3H0&mode=overlay&first=1
Image 3: Passports, “Maginot Line”. accessed 10-29-15. http://www.bing.com/images/search?q=maginot+line&view=detailv2&id=BC91261066E57602811436611CD45C0B81E1E307&selectedindex=4&ccid=IHZaDn1c&simid=608026224374317125&thid=OIP.M20765a0e7d5c9f217b8953ed40a13b48H0&mode=overlay&first=1