Fortress Europe (German: Festung Europa) was a military propaganda term used by both sides of the Second World War which referred to the areas of Continental Europe occupied by Nazi Germany, as opposed to the United Kingdom across the Channel.
World War II defenses
In British phraseology, Fortress Europe meant the battle honour accorded to Royal Air Force and Allied squadrons during the war, but to qualify, operations had to be made by aircraft based in Britain against targets in Germany, Italy and other parts of Nazi-occupied Europe, in the period from the fall of France to the Normandy invasion.
Simultaneously, the term Festung Europa was being used by Nazi propaganda, namely to refer to Hitler's and the Wehrmacht's plans to fortify the whole of occupied Europe, in order to prevent invasion from the British Isles. These measures included the construction of the Atlantic wall, along with reorganization of the Luftwaffe for air defense. This use of the term Fortress Europe was subsequently adopted by correspondents and historians in the English language to describe the military efforts of the Axis powers at defending the continent from the Allies.
Post war usage
Currently, within Europe, the most common use of the term is as a pejorative description of the state of immigration into the European Union. This can be in reference either to attitudes toward immigration, or to the system of border patrols and detention centers that are used to help prevent illegal immigration into the European Union.
For conservative parties (e.g. the Freedom Party of Austria) 'Fortress Europe' is a positive term. They mostly claim that such a fortress does not really exist yet, and that illegal immigrants can enter Europe far too easily. They often charge the southern states with insufficient border control, claiming that the latter are acting on the knowledge that immigrants tend to be more attracted to western/northern states with more generous welfare systems (Switzerland, Germany, Austria, Sweden, etc.). Conservatives all over Europe want to end the Schengen Agreement and to re-install border controls because they say it did not only lead to mass migration of illegals but also to free traffic of criminals. Changes in the Schengen treaties have come into effect in the wake of this criticism.
Controlled external borders
- Ceuta and Melilla (Spain) (from Morocco)
- Italian and Maltese coast (from Libya and Tunisia)
- Canary Islands (Spain) (from Morocco)
- Maritsa (Turkey) (from Near East)
- Eastern border of the European Union (from Ukraine, Belarus, Moldova, Russia)
- South-Eastern border of the European Union (from Bosnia and Herzegovina, Serbia, Montenegro, Albania, Republic of Macedonia)
- Strait of Gibraltar (from Morocco)
- South Aegean and North Aegean (from Near East)
- Hindenburg Line, German defences on the Western Front of World War I
- Siegfried Line, German defences against France in World War II
- Maginot Line, French defenses against Germany constructed for World War II
- Iron Curtain, dividing line through Europe during the Cold War