1930 - 1940 La ligne Maginot
In 1919, Alsace and Lorraine become French provinces again. But nothing is forever sure. Conscious of the transitory aspects of the guarantees of the Versaille Treaty, the french government wants to prevent that a similar invasion of the one of 1914 occurs again.
A "Commission of the Territorial Defence" is created and placed under the authority of General Guillaumat. It proposes in 1925 the edification of a "discontinuous system of the fortified regions" which is extended until the Eastern boundary; from the North Sea to the Mediterranean. Succeeding in 1914 the Minister of the War, Paul Painlevé, André Maginot the 14 of January 1930 makes the Parliament vote a 2.900 million francs budget for a five-year construction of a new fortified defence line almost continuous, which will soon carry his name.
Along more then 700 kilometres, from the Ardennes to the South of Alsace, but also from the Savoie to the Côte d'Azur a "Great Wall" will be build. It will be constituted of steel and concrete and of three different types of artillery works, partially buried and connected to each other by underground galleries. They also give access to military barracks, provision bunkers, ammunition containers and factories for the production of electricity.
44 heavy artillery works, 62 medium infantry works, 365 casemates, 17 observatories, 89 interval shelters, more then 150 turrets of all type, thousands blockhouses and a whole infrastructure of background railways, military roads and quartering are build. In the biggest works, electric trains connect the artillery blocks to the ammunition stores and quartering where fortress infantry regiments (FIR), artillery regiments of position (ARP) and units of the Royal Engineers transmission can stay. Totally more then 1000men fit in these rooms.
Heiress of an old military fortification tradition, the Maginot Line will remain unfinished in spite of the 1.77 billion Francs voted in addition to the initial budget. This happens when Hitler invades Holland, Belgium, Luxembourg and Paris the 10th of May 1940. When the Armistice is signed the 25th of June 1940, the Maginot Line and the 25.000 men who where affected there, will fight behind the german lines. An order of the French General Headquarters will be necessary to force them to give up their weapons, their ammunition and their position. Only the 4th of July 1940 the defenders of the Michelsberg work will resign and surrender to the germans against their will.
The Maginot Line is not only a succession of concrete works without much architectural interest. It is also a set of underground galleries that is possible to cover in small trucks pulled by little electric locomotives. They lead to installation which give evidence to the progress of french technology at the beginning of the XXth century in the field of the mechanical engineering, of the production of electricity, the conditioning of water and air ...