May 19, 2015

Today in History: The Maginot Line (1940)

John RobsonArchive

On May 19, 1940, as the Blitzkrieg overwhelmed France, German troops captured Le Petit Ouvrage La Ferté, a northern outpost of the lengthy, heavily fortified and much-maligned Maginot Line.

In the wake of the French collapse that entire system of fortifications became a byword for strategic stupidity and backward thinking.

But in fact the Maginot Line did its job, keeping the Germans and Italians out of the large part of France it defended.

Even the poorly built and ineptly defended La Ferté, the only part taken during the initial Nazi assault, gave the Germans such trouble they hailed its capture as a major achievement.

The Maginot Line cost far less than the French navy and performed much better.

As for the French army, despite the bravery of its soldiers and the quality of its equipment, French generals and French politicians so mishandled it in the spring of 1940 as to produce sudden, almost inexplicable disaster.

But the Maginot Line itself held firm and it, and the men who manned it, deserve a much better reputation than they normally enjoy.


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commented 2015-05-21 22:29:12 -0400
Failure to finish the Maginot Line right to the seacoast was a totally reckless decision by irresponsible French politicians. No fortification is impregnable if the enemy leader is determined to succeed despite the rivers of blood spilling from his massed troops that it will require.
At the start of WW2 the French had more and better tanks than the Germans. They also didn’t have anyone in the top ranks with even the slightest concept that tanks were something more than mobile pillboxes. DeGaulle and a few other brilliant self taught people who were without influence had no way to circumvent the fools in the top command.
After the Japanese attack at Pearl Harbour, the follow on later conflict soon made it apparent that Japanese strategy on how aircraft carriers should be deployed was superior to the American concepts. The US Navy quickly changed its doctrine.
commented 2015-05-20 20:49:48 -0400
Dear Mr. Robson,
I love your “Day in History” segments and hope you continue to do them for
I also look forward to my copy of the Magna Carta documentary you are currently filming.
Thanks for making me just a teeny bit more informed.

commented 2015-05-20 11:45:28 -0400
If that is so then what do you say about the teaching and curriculum I faced when I was in high school? What I learned in history was about 30% crap, 30% leftist propoganda, and 40% fact. So I am not surprised I was taught a simplistic and false narrative about the maginot line. Why didn’t we learn that Woodrow Wilson was a progressive who operated a police state and jailed anyone who opposed American entry into WW1? Or that Bismark was social engineer, who was a model for modern socialist governments? Or that General Franco took in Jewish refugees and refused to cooperate with Hitler’s final solution?
commented 2015-05-20 05:04:55 -0400
My old friend, Gary Starks, made art about the Maginot Line. Greatly misunderstood at the time by academics at York U who thought it indicated he was a neo-Nazi.
commented 2015-05-20 01:35:37 -0400
commented 2015-05-19 13:16:30 -0400
Also on this day in history
Lawrence of Arabia dies 1935
A massive Spanish fleet, known as the “Invincible Armada,” sets sail in 1588

The early years of species protection 1715 ( and you thought we were free of government regulation back then. )
The colony of New York passes a law making it illegal to “gather, rake, take up, or bring to the market, any oysters whatsoever” between the months of May and September.
For more on this day in history go to THIS DAY IN HISTORY
Great learning about our history enjoy.
commented 2015-05-19 13:02:21 -0400
The impact damage on the metal dome attests to the ferocity of the battle for this facility.. Regrettably, no one was prepared for the Nazi Blitzkreig style of warfare at the time. We are fortuneate for the efforts of our fathers, grandfathers, son, daughters and others who defeated the Nazis, albeit taking 5 to 6 years to do so. Countless deaths, The Holocaust, Massive disruption to societies and property damage. Had the democracies been prepared, perhaps the infliction would have been minimalized. There is a lesson here for our current struggle against Islam. Western democracies need to admit A: Islam is a threat. B: They do not abide by any traditonally accepted “rules of war”. Not “polictically correct” to be sure, but our society and lives will depend on it.
commented 2015-05-19 12:58:14 -0400
To go on with the story of the Maginot Line, we have to mention the Siegfried Line. This line of defence was built by the Germans as a defence from the French Maginot Line. On September 111944: US troops cross the border into Germany at the southern part of the Siegfried Line and on Monday, October 2, 1944 the U.S. Army crossed the Siegfried Line by American Troops in the northern part. This shows you that s strategic fixed defences don’t work they just hold up the advances on the opposing army. The Maginot Line was successful because it caused the Germans to use a modified plan that the Germans used in the First World War sweeping through Belgium then through France.