About the Westwall
The construction of the Westwall started in 1936 after the occupation of the Saarland by Germany. Initially the defense line stretched parallel to the Maginot Line. In 1938 the Westwall was extended from Kleve to the Swiss border. The extension was initiated by Hitler on May 28, 1938. During the build enormous resources were used, for example half a million people and a third of the German concrete production was used. The expertise of Fritz Todt was used for the design. Although the line was strong it was extra fortified on two places, namely at Aachen (Scharnhorst line and Schill line) and the Saarland. After the invasion of France the line was abandoned. In 1943 the odds were turning for Germany and this let to the build of the Atlantic wall.
Only until 1944 preparations were made to reuse the Westwall, but not without some issues. There were shortages of ammunition, heavy guns and troups. Finally there was the problem that the 1944 equipment did not fit the bunkers designed in 1938. The Germans manned the line with additional troops gathered from many parts of the German army such as the navy, air force. In 1944 this was state the allies found the Westwall in.
The building of the westwall
Use of the westwall during the early stages of WO II
In October 1938 the German army occupied Czechoslovakia the Westwal was still not completed. And that was still the case when WO II started at September 1, 1939 when Poland was invaded. However the fortifications were not tested because Germany was not attacked by France. In early 1940 the German forces attacked The netherlands, belgium and France, which the successfully concurred. After the victories in the west the construction of the Westwall was stopped and disarmed, as being obsolete.
Due to the propaganda in during the pre war period a myth surrounding the Westwall was created which was still in place during the end of the war when the allied forces stood at the borders of Germany.
The westwall in 1944/1945
In 1944 the allied forces reached the Westwall (or Siegfried line). Many of the pillboxes were unable to be equipped with the weapons in use in 1944. For example the MG 42 did not fit. And the same applied the anti tank guns which became significantly larger. However the German army was able to reactivate the line by digging trenches, barbwire and mine fields. The pillboxes were not used as primary fighting positions but as shelters during bombings.
The westwall after the war
Sources of article text:
1) Hölle im Hürtgenwald, Adolf Hohenstein & Wolfgang Trees, Triangel Verlag, Aachen, 1981, ISBN 3-922974-01-5
2) Der Westwall von Kleve bis Basel - Auf der spuren deutscher Geschichte, Dieter Robert Bettinger, Hans-Josef Hansen, Daniel Lois, Dörfler im Nebel Verlag-Verlag, Wölfersheim, 2002, ISBN 978-3-89555-414-8
3) The Battle for the Rhine, Robin Neillands. ISBN 978-1585677870
4) Der Westwall – Vom Denkmalwert des Unerfreulichen, Manfred Groß
4) Source image: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Karte_westwall.png
Article created on 9/1/2009 by rene.
The last change was made on 11/7/2010 by rene.