Pictures and text by James P. Barnes
These pictures were taken in on 31 March, 2010. The Fort was made safe for the public in 2009, and takes about 2 hours to tour.
This large artillery fort, one of 44 on the Maginot Line, housed over 600 men and has been turned into a memorial representing the determination of the French soldiers who stood their ground in 1939 despite the overwhelming offensive of the German Blitzkrieg. This memorial is unique in that it does not honor those killed or captured in war, but it honors the bravery of those who survived.
|Memorial marker near the entrance to the fort, honoring the Maginot Line defense of 1939-1940. The marker is a simple rough stone with a French flag on a pole rising from the top. There are three different plaques in this picture, and they appear to have been added at different times. The top plaque honors the 50th anniversary of the Maginot line and is dated June 1990. The middle one roughly reads, "In honor of the combatants who in spite of the Armistice signed 25 June 1940 (between France and Germany) refused to surrender until ordered to do so by the French High Command (6 days after the Armistice). This plaque is not dated. The bottom plaque, which is not attached to the original marker, gives the authority behind the memorial - Secretary of State and Ministry of Defense with approval of the President of the French Republic. This plaque is dated July 2004.|
|The entrance to the Schoenenbourg Fort. The fort withstood over 3,000 bombs and shells when the Wehrmacht began its offensive on 14 May 1940.|
|French students on top of the fort and one of the gun turrets for defending the rear entrance. I wondered when I took this picture how these young people thought about the Maginot Line and the affect of the war on them personally 70 years later…|
|Anti-tank obstacles and a view of the terrain that was defended by the Maginot Line.|
|A view of the nearly 3 Kilometer tunnel connecting the different sections of the fort. Most of the fort is under ground, this tunnel is 22 meters below the surface. The fort was designed to resist heavy attack for several months without resupply.|
|Artwork (graffiti) done by an unknown French soldier. One wonders what the soldiers did to pass away the hours while waiting for a major offensive for months at a time.|
|Main Communications space. At the time, this fort used state of the art technology for communications, command and control, and habitability.|
|Generators for electrical power.|
|Air filters for purifying the underground air, also to protect against a gas attack.|
|Living quarters for enlisted men.|
|The infirmary. Served as a dentist chair, operating table, and examining room.|