Ft. Hackenberg - Maginot Line
Part of the intent of the Maginot Line was to deter war. In this,
obviously, it failed. Allied propaganda touting the strength of
the line, combined with its secrecy extending into the 1970s, has led
many mis-perceptions. News accounts in the 1930s made mention of
massive underground barracks, underground garages for armored fighting
vehicles, and even underground airplane hangers. None of these
things existed. Much was made of the tunneling, with claims that
all the forts were connected to each other underground. This too
was untrue. Another misconception was that France's construction
of the fort prevented France from modernizing and motorizing its army.
This too was untrue. The French army in 1940 was the most
motorized in history up to that point. The French military in
impressive in a number of ways. Unfortunately, it also had
many flaws. Faced with a competently enemy -
equipped, organized,and led along visionary lines, France folded
Most other defense establishments would have also - and many did.
The Maginot Line was never intended to be impregnable. No
fortification is, but it held up well to attacks, even
after the interval troops between and near the forts were withdrawn.
Of all the permanent
fortifications of the Second World War, those of the Maginot Line were
most successful. The line was designed to give France the
needed to mobilize in the event of war. In this, it succeeded.
The forts, stretching
along the German and Luxembourg borders were to be defended with
the help of troops in the intervals between them. Maginot
Line defenses were also constructed on the border with Italy, where
they were very successful in repelling attacks.
Less extensive defenses were built along the Rhine and along the
Belgian border, but these works were not part of the Maginot Line
proper. Extensive fortifications along the Belgian border
were ruled out for several reasons. Firstly, the water table was
low, preventing extensive digging. France was also allied
with Belgium until 1936 so building strong defenses along the border
would suggest an unwillingness on the part of France to actively
EM = Munitions Entrance
EH = Personnel Entrance
M1 = Magazine
Diesel powered locomotives from the outside system of military
railways supplying the Maginot Line could leave their trains to be
picked up by the electric powered trains inside.
The magazine is to the left.
The door provided protection from chemical weapons, allowed the
garrison to seal off sections that had been captured, and protected
against an explosion in the magazine. The door was damaged in 1944
The eating area is not as generous as in contemporary artists' conceptions. The men would often eat in the barracks area.
Fortified electrical facilities to the rear of the Maginot Line forts connected with multiple
forts through underground wires to supply electricity. Forts also
contained their own engines and generators.
Among other items, the train ran by electricity supplied from overhead wires.
Note wall decoration
•Block 8 – 3 x 75mm
•Block 7 – MG, infantry
•Block 9 – 2 x 135mm howitzers
•Block 10 – 81mm mortar
Looking over Block 7
Note the overhead equipment for ammo transport.
Block 9 - 135 mm Retractable turret
This turret is still in working order!
This block, with three 75mm pieces, was damaged in September 1944 by
the US Army. The ditch was designed to keep debris from
interfering with the weapons in addition to being an obstacle to the
enemy. Note the bridge. In a combat situation, a board
would likely be used instead.
Block 8 - 75mm
Note grenade dropper at left and communication device at right.
The fort was run like a ship. Empty shells were expelled down the
chute for recycling.
Copyright 2010-11 by John Hamill