Schoenenbourg Maginot Line fort | Attraction Guides | History Hit

Schoenenbourg Maginot Line fort

Hunspach, Grand Est, France

Luke Tomes

24 Nov 2020
Image Credit: Shutterstock

About Schoenenbourg Maginot Line fort

The Schoenenbourg Maginot Line fort was one of a series of forts constructed by the French to defend their border with Germany following the First World War.

Named after the then defence minister, Andre Maginot, the Maginot Line forts were a series of heavily defended subterranean fortifications.

Schoenenbourg Maginot Line fort history

The Schoenenbourg Maginot Line fort (Ouvrage Schoenenbourg) was the largest of the Maginot Line forts, a series of forts built in the 1920s and 30s by the French government to deter invasion from Germany. Made up of a series of locations spanning over 3 kilometres, the Schoenenbourg Maginot Line fort was entirely self sufficient, with everything from kitchens and water facilities to medical rooms and weaponry.

Open to the public since 1978, about 40,000 visitors come yearly to discover its settings. The latter are all original and the fort is on the complementary historical register in full. As an actual strong lock of Northern Alsace, the Schoenenbourg Fort is the fort that saw the most action during Word War Two.

Between September 1939 and June 1940, it fired up to 18,000 shells. During that time, it was itself shot at by 56 420mm shells, 33 280mm shells, 160 aircraft bombs and 3,000 150mm and 105mm shells.

A war council was held on June 14th 1940 and the decision was made to resist on the ground in the spirit of the “No way through for anyone” motto. In reality however, the Germans attacked France not from the expected route through the Maginot Line, but via Belgium, meaning that the forts were unable to defend the nation.

The crew surrendered on July 1 1940 and only by the French high command’s order, that is to say six days after the armistice was signed.

Schoenenbourg Maginot Line fort today

Today, the Schoenenbourg Maginot Line fort is open to visitors, who can explore this vast underground network. The barracks and kitchens, the command post, gun positions and other former locations can be visited.

The museum also presents documents on the history of the Maginot Line and on military life in a fort. A visit usually lasts around 2 hours.

Getting to Schoenenbourg Maginot Line fort

The Schoenenbourg Maginot Line fort is located right on the eastern border between France and Germany. It is roughly 60 kilometres north of Strasbourg, no more than an hour’s drive away.

The closest city to the Maginot line in Germany is Stuggart, roughly 125 kilomteres away. A drive from here via the A8 would take roughly 2 hours.

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