Fort de Mutzig
|This article has been translated from the article Feste Kaiser Wilhelm II. in the German Wikipedia, and requires proofreading.
If you are confident enough in your fluency of English and German, please feel free to join this translation.
|Fort de Mutzig|
|Part of German fortifications of Strasbourg|
|Location of the Fort de Mutzig and the fortified belt of Strasbourg, which together formed the German defense line on the Bruche, also known as Breuschstellung.|
|Yes, not in totality|
The Fort de Mutzig, also known as Feste Kaiser Wilhelm II, is located near the town of Mutzig, in the Bas-Rhin departement of France. It is one of the forts built by Germany at the end of the 19th century to defend Strasbourg.
It was the first new fortification built in what was then German territory after the invention of high explosives, which rendered earlier masonry fortifications obsolete.
Fort de Mutzig was part of a network of forts surrounding Strasbourg and Metz that had been built by the Germans after the end of the Franco-Prussian War. Earlier forts built from 1872 to 1880 used masonry, which did not resist high explosives or concrete. The Mutzig works were planned as a demonstration of new technology.
The western fort, built in 1895, was built of concrete from the beginning, while the 1893 eastern fort, which had been built in masonry, was reinforced and covered in concrete. Armored observation points and 150mm howitzer turrets were installed, while Mutzig was the first German fort with its own electric generating plant. It also was equipped with a radio link to Strasbourg, infantry shelters and underground living quarters. Costs were estimated at 15 million marks.
The fort comprises three main portions. The newest section, and the place used for tours, is located in the northwestern fort. The 1895 west fort is located somewhat to the south, and the eastern fort about one kilometer to the east of the western fort. Together they comprise a feste, or fortress, a concept leading eventually to the distributed ouvrages of the French Maginot Line fortifications.
In 1914, the 254-hectare (630-acre) fort comprised 50 buildings, with an underground space of approximately 40,000 square meters (400,000 square feet). With 22 turrets equipped with 10cm and 15cm howitzers at a maximum rate of fire of 6.5 tons of shells per minute, Mutzig was one of the strongest forts in Europe. 8000 troops of the German army manned the defenses of Strasbourg at the time. Forces were disposed in the ring of forts around Strasbourg, as well as the Vosges mountains for defense against French forces around Belfort.
The fort's armament included:
- 8 150mm howitzers in turrets with a range of 8,500 metres (27,900 ft)
- 14 105mm guns in turrets, of two models, with a range of up to 13,000 metres (43,000 ft)
- 8 57mm guns in disappearing turrets
- 12 53mm guns in embrasures
- 12 armored observation points, two with periscopes, and 7 infantry observation positions
Three concrete barracks for the garrison and 18 concrete shelters for infantry were provided, along with four wells, bakeries and other support facilities distributed around the fortification.
The province of Lorraine had been captured during the Franco-Prussian War, prompting an arms race in the form of fixed fortifications on the parts of France and Germany. The fort saw no significant fighting during the First World War, and was handed over intact to the French Army after the armistice of 1918, with the exception of about half of its 105mm guns, salvaged in 1917 by the Germans. The French Army designated Mutzig a rear defense of the Rhine frontier.
Despite being evacuated in 1940, it was bombed by the Germans. The eastern fort was the scene of fighting in June 1944 as the Allies advanced to the Rhine. The fort de Mutzig was rated 50%-75% serviceable in 1947.
A portion of the enormous site, which virtually covers the top of the Breuchstals mountain, was restored and may be visited today. It retains almost all its original equipment.
- This article incorporates text translated from the corresponding German Wikipedia article as of February 9, 2010.
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