The Maginot Line September 1939

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Map Code: Ax00268

In an attempt to protect itself from sudden German attack, France built a great line of fortifications along its border with Switzerland, Germany and Luxembourg, known as the Maginot Line. The Line’s defences ranged from simple, sparsely armed blockhouses and armed bunkers with machine-gun turrets (casemates), to powerful state-of-the-art fortresses (ouvrages) manned by soldiers and artillery; obstacles such as rails, trenches and barbed wire connected many of the structures. The defences did not span the Belgian border, not least because of the country’s neutrality, but also in an attempt to force any German invasion to go through Belgium. This tactic aimed to slow enemy penetration and allow time for the mobilization of the French army. In reality, the Maginot Line provided a dangerously false sense of French security. In 1940, the Germans set up a decoy force opposite the Maginot Line, while the Wehrmacht invaded through both the Low Countries and the seemingly impenetrable and weakly defended Ardennes forest.

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