I’d heard of the Maginot Line but had no idea it was still there and that you could visit it. It was the series of bunkers built from 1932 on, just inside the border, to hold back any attempt by Germany to invade. The mentality was still thinking as they had in 1914 – 1918. Of course the Germans in 1940 just rolled their tanks through neutral Belgium.
There is a fantastic one of these bunkers not far from where Georges and Lil live so we set out to spend an afternoon there. Lil previously worked there as a guide so we were in for a guided tour of Schoenenbourg.
You begin by walking into a heavily constructed cement structure set into a hillside – or what looks like a hillside. From there you go down 135 steps and begin to walk along a long tunnel – the first of a number of tunnels that led first to kitchens and storage, then to bunk areas for the soldiers and then to the area where the ammunition was stored and the turrets could be raised so the men could fire on the attackers.
Six hundred men lived down there at any time.
The bunk areas were quite small and had three tiers of bunks and held thirty six men, too bad if you had claustrophobia.
We walked all the way – about 2km out to the guns and then back.
It was fascinating. There were loads of photos and reconstructed activity in the small rooms to show you where things happened. The communication room, for example, where information came in from all the ‘pill boxes’ or posts around the country where people were on the lookout for invaders. Men sat at phones and then had calculations to do on huge maps to work out where to fire the guns from the turrets which would be raised up above the ground and then lowered again to be unseen.
We were exhausted by the end so had ourselves photographed on a turret at the entrance,
and then headed off to Wissembourg for a relaxing drink. It was Mothers Day so a quick call from New York meant our two elder girls were in touch (we’d spoken to Jess in the morning). I felt like a G&T but had to settle for a glass of wine. No problem.
That town was right on the border with Germany and was truly lovely looking. Lots of photos taken.
Then home to another aperitif, a late dinner and bed hours later than Euan and I are used to.
Yet another good day.