The Maginot Line

The Maginot Line

The term “Maginot Line” is often associated with both cutting-edge military technology and one of the most serious misplanning incidents in the history of war. The French built a defense system consisting of a line of bunkers along the French border with Belgium, Luxembourg, Germany, and Italy that was built between 1930 and 1940.

The system is named after French Defense Minister André Maginot. The main purpose of the defense system was to deter German invasion. 

The individual bunkers of the Maginot Line were more than ordinary military bases. Most of these bases had their own hospital, recreation center, kitchens, living areas, ammunition bunkers, and their own diesel engines for power. 

Large parts of the bases were additionally equipped with air filtration systems against gas attacks. At the time, the budget for construction was far overdrawn at three billion francs, which accounted for many unfinished bases. Most of the architecture was built primarily on the basis of experience in the First World War.


In order to preserve Belgium’s neutrality, the border with Belgium was only very thinly defended by the Maginot Line. 

As an alternative, French and British generals devised a counterattack plan in the event of a German attack through neutral Belgium: While numerous elite troops would defend the Line, several French armies and the British Expeditionary Corps would march into Belgium in the event of war and, together with Belgian troops, repel the Wehrmacht at the Deyle River.


The pre-planned scenario of an attack by the Germans through Belgium actually came to pass, reinforcing the Allies’ belief that the Germans would attack France through neutral Belgium just as they had done in World War I. 

As a result, they moved most of their best formations into Belgium, which made it possible for the Germans to penetrate through the weakly occupied Ardennes and bypass the Maginot Line completely. 

The French were forced to surrender and faced a massive defeat.

The Maginot Line, which put a massive economic burden on France and failed to prevent the German attack, turns out to be one of the biggest misplanning as well as a waste of money and troops in the history of war, over $3 billion French Francs were spent on construction.

Written by Bernhard Böck

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