Fort Simserhof, Siersthal

Ouvrage du Simserhof. ©SporRegArm. Source : http://communes.sporegarm.fr

Fort Simserhof, one of the most significant and well-preserved artillery forts on the Maginot Line.

Lying 8 km west of Bitche on the edge of the village of Siersthal in the département of Moselle (Lorraine), Simserhof, with its 5 kilometres of subterranean galleries (including 1,700 metres of rail), 2 entrances (one for soldiers, one for munitions) and 8 blockhouses, is one of the most significant and well-preserved artillery forts on the Maginot Line. Built between 1929 and 1935, Simserhof, which was built in the fortified sector of Bitche, possessed great firepower. It was manned by 876 soldiers and gunners from the 150th and 155th Infantry Regiments, as well as troops from the 152nd Fortress Infantry Regiment, sappers and miners, electrical engineers, railway sappers and transmissions engineers were permanently stationed at the giant underground fortress. From the 10th of May 1940, the start of the Blitzkrieg, these soldiers, commanded by Lieutenant-Colonel BONLARRON heroically withstood numerous offensives by the German army. Undefeated, they put down their weapons on the orders of the French High Command on the 30th of June 1940, 5 days after the cease-fire, and then returned to the camp at Bitche, the first step on the way to captivity in Germany. Following fierce fighting 4 years later, between the 3rd and 19th of December 1944, two American divisions took back the fort from the Germans.

The property of the Defence Department, the whole of the site has been entrusted to the Moselle département and the Bitche regional council and has been the subject of large-scale improvements to promote its cultural and tourism appeal. Reopened to the public on the 14th of July 2002, the tour is in two parts. First of all there is an 18-minute film on a giant screen. Made by Gabriel LEBOMIN and the Communication and Audiovisual Production Company for the Department of Defence (ECPA-D), it tells the history of the Maginot line from 1918 to 1940.
Then, on board automatic vehicles equipped with sound systems, the tour takes you through the munitions entrance right into the heart of the building. Here begins a 30-minute journey through the galleries of Simserhof, with commentary by the actor Bruno PUTZULU who plays a fictional soldier from 1940, bringing the daily life of the company, the military architecture and the fort's firepower to life for the public. His story ends, in the middle of a racket of cannons and shells, with Fort Simserhof 's 50 days of fighting. Other parts of the fort will shortly be restored. The public will then be able to visit the barracks, a real underground town, comprising most notably of the infirmary -ultra-modern at the time - equipped with a pharmacy, operating theatres and a decontamination room for gas victims, the soldiers' bar area, in which the gunner Romain Simon, a set designer at the Opéra in Paris, painted frescoes inspired by the Walt Disney cartoon, Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, electric operated kitchens and officers' and troops' accommodation. You will also be able to take a look at the electricity production plant and its machinery room, comprising 4 impressive Sulzer diesel generators (6 cylinders, 265 CV) whose fuel consumption is 66 litres/hour.
Opening hours: From 15/03/2011 to 15/11/2011: 10 am to 5 pm (6 pm in July and August), closed Mondays except holidays and July and August Free parking Reservation is strongly recommended and compulsory for groups (personalised service is provided for groups). - Due to the low temperatures in the galleries of the fort (+/-10°C), bring warm clothing - Access for visitors with restricted mobility - A schedule of reconstructions, exhibitions and events is available on request - A fast-food cafeteria - Shop selling souvenirs, artisan products and local products Prices Individuals: Adults 12 € / Children (6 to 16 years): 8 € Adult groups (minimum of 20 paying adults): 10 € Children's groups (minimum of 10 paying children): 7 € Free for children under 6 Reduced entry fee upon presentation of student, job-seeker or war veterans card Information and reservations: Simserhof - Rue André Maginot - " Le Légeret " - 57410 Siersthal Telephone: +33 (0)3 8796 3940 Fax: +33 (0)3 8796 2995 E-mail : resa@simserhof.fr

  • Cellule à haute tension de l'usine électrique souterraine du Simserhof , Collection DMPA

  • L'extérieur du site. Source : Jean-Claude Kanny CDT Moselle

  • Le Simserhof. Source : CDT Moselle - Jean-Claude Kanny

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    Practical information

    Address

    Rue André Maginot 57410
    Siersthal
    03 87 96 39 40

    Prices

    Tarif adulte: 12 € Enfant de 6 à 16 ans: 8 € Groupes: 10 € par adulte (à partir de 20 personnes) 7 € par enfant (à partir de 10 enfants) Gratuit : Enfant (- de 6 ans)

    Weekly opening hours

    Du 15 mars 2011 au 15 novembre 201: de 10h à 18h (17h hors juillet et août)

    Fermetures annuelles

    Fermé le lundi sauf jours fériés et en juillet et août.