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Fortifications of Metz

fortifications of metz
The Fortifications of Metz, a city in northeastern France, are extensive, due to the city's strategic position near the border of France and Germany After the Franco-Prussian War of 1870, the area was annexed by the newly created German Empire in 1871 by the Treaty of Frankfurt and became a Reichsland The German Army decided to build a fortress line from Mulhouse to Luxembourg to protect their new territories The centerpiece of this line was the Moselstellung between Metz and Thionville, in Lorraine1


  • 1 Overview
  • 2 Forts of the first belt
  • 3 Forts of the second belt
  • 4 The "seven dwarves"
  • 5 See also
  • 6 Notes
  • 7 Literature
  • 8 External links


The fortifications around Metz consisted of casemates, concrete barracks, infantry strong points, and concrete batteries, equipped with rotating steel turrets 100–150 mm Each position was surrounded by several ditches, or concrete trenches, with shelters and observation cupolas A large barbed wire belt, defended by machine gun and rifle positions, completed the defensive system

Forts had usually several large blockhouse style barracks These had 3-meter thick reinforced concrete roofs with 2-meter thick walls They were partially buried under as much as 6 m 20 ft of compacted earth Underground tunnels connected all of the structures The fort also had deep wide trenches, some as much as 9 m 30 ft in both dimensions They were also surrounded by a thick layer of barbed wire entanglements

Each fort had 2–4 batteries, equipped with hydraulic rotating steel turrets 100–150 mm In the summer of 1944, only 10% of the batteries were fully operational Most of those were in Fort Driant Feste Kronprinz and Fort Jeanne d'Arc Feste Kaiserin By November, during the battle of Metz, the German troops had managed to get about 50% of the guns operational in most of the forts listed below These batteries were lacking range tables, missing sights and other equipment to make the guns fully operational

Below is a list of the fortifications that exist around the area of Metz Because they switched hands quite often, the French names are listed as well as any applicable German ones In parentheses is the construction period

Forts of the first beltedit

The first, inner belt of fortifications were completed by the French just prior to the Franco-Prussian War and were in service during the Siege of Metz from 3 September to 23 October 1870 The forts were in a ring approximately 4 km out from the city center, and were anti-clockwise from the south:

Fort de Plappeville / Fort Alvensleben, September 7, 1940
  • Fort de Saint-Privat 1870 / Fort Prinz August von Württemberg 1872–1875
  • Fort de Queuleu 1867–1870 / Fort Goeben 1871–1890
  • Fort des Bordes 1870 / Fort Zatrow 1874–1875
  • Fort de Saint-Julien 1867–1870 / Fort Manteuffel 1871–1891
  • Fort Gambetta / Fort Hindersin 1879–1881
  • Fort Déroulède / Fort Kameke 1876–1879
  • Fort Decaen / Fort Schwerin 1878–1880
  • Fort de Plappeville 1867–1870 / Fort Alvenslebenn 1871–1891
  • Groupe fortifié du Mont Saint-Quentin 1867–1870 / Feste Prinz Friedrich-Karl 1872–1892
    • Fort Diou 1867–1870 / Ostfort 1872–1892
    • Fort Girardin / Fort Mannstein 1872–1892

Forts of the second beltedit

The second, outer belt of fortifications were completed by the Germans prior to the First World War but saw little service Prior to the Second World War they were incorporated by the French into the Maginot Line defenses, but again saw little action In October 1944, while occupied by the Germans, the fortifications were assaulted and captured by the American 3rd Army in the Battle of Metz The forts were in an offset ring from 8–10 km from the city, and were anticlockwise from the south:

Fort l’Aisne Feste Wagner, 1904-1912
  • Fort l’Aisne / Feste Wagner 1904–1912
  • Fort l’Yser / Feste Prinzregent Luitpold 1907–1914
  • Fort La Marne / Feste Generalfeldmarschall Freiherr von der Goltz 1907–1916

anticlockwise from the north:

  • Fort Lorraine / Feste Lothringen 1899–1905
  • Fort François de Guise / Feste Leipzig 1907–1912
  • Fort Jeanne d'Arc / Feste Kaiserin 1899–1905
  • Fort Driant / Feste Kronprinz 1899–1905
  • Fort Verdun / Feste Haeseler 1899–1905, sometimes referred to as Feste Graf Haeseler

The "seven dwarves"edit

These are a series of small defensive emplacements built between 1912 and 1916 in a line between Driant and Jeanne d'Arc The name for them was created by the Americans of the US Third Army during the Battle of Metz in the Second World War They are sometimes mistakenly referred to as forts, and their name alludes to their weak defensive strength From south to north they are:

  • Marival bunker
  • Vaux Southern point of support
  • Vaux Northern point of support
  • Bois-la-Dame† bunker
  • Jussy Southern point of support
  • Jussy Northern point of support
  • Saint Hubert point of support

† - Lady's Wood

See alsoedit

  • Fortified Region of Metz for the Maginot Line fortifications shielding the Metz industrial region
  • List of fortifications


  1. ^ Clayton Donnell 2008, The German Fortress of Metz 1870–1944, Osprey Publishing


  • Inge & Dieter Wernet: Die Feste Wagner, Verny: Association pour la Découverte de la Fortification Messine 2002
  • Inge & Dieter Wernet: Die Feste Wagner, ADFM, Helios-Verlag Aachen 2010
  • Inge & Dieter Wernet: La Feste Wagner, ADFM, Helios-Verlag Aachen 2010

External linksedit

  • Pictures and maps - In French
  • Battle of Metz: map, aerial photos
  • aerial view
  • photographie

Coordinates: 49°07′04″N 6°11′08″E / 4911778°N 618556°E / 4911778; 618556

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