Talk:Battle of Fort Eben-Emael

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Good article Battle of Fort Eben-Emael has been listed as one of the Warfare good articles under the good article criteria. If you can improve it further, please do so. If it no longer meets these criteria, you can reassess it.
October 15, 2008 Good article nominee Listed
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Comments for GA Reviewer[edit]

Greetings, reviewer! Thanks for taking the time to review this article. I thought I'd cover a few points that you might come across whilst reviewing the article and explain myself.

  • The references aren't combined. Whilst I'm good at a fair few things on wiki, combining the references just isn't one of them. I just can't get it right however much I try, as shown by the history of this article!
  • There are no numbers for Belgian casualties inflicted at all three bridges. This is because none of the sources I've found give any detail of Belgian casualties for anywhere but Eben-Emael, and I think I've accessed all the sources I can. Some of them can't even agree on the number of men in the garrison of the Fort, which might suggest why they're so vague on casualties.
  • The same for the aftermath of the Fort. Presumably because the Germans were the victors, and it isn't a major airborne assault anyway, none of the sources give any details on the Fort post-assault, and believe me, I've looked.

I think that's about it, although I'll add more if I think of any. Thanks again! Skinny87 (talk) 19:04, 14 October 2008 (UTC)

Personal Views of Fort Eben-Emael[edit]

I had read about this battle and after-action reports prior to my several visits to the site. In 1984, I attempted to see the site on several occasions; but was dismayed when I found the area around the Fort as well as the Fort itself was in the process of being leveled for a shopping area and new homes. Most people around the area of Liege could only tell me what I may be looking for was 'the mountain'. Their only advice was drive toward the mountain. In all actuality it was steep granite hill with high precipices on the canal side. But it is the tallest piece of real estate for miles around. There were barriers all around due to demolition and construction, a new bridge was being built to the area...everything else was mud and rock.

Fortunately, cooler heads and minds must have prevailed (I think the Belgiums learned their intended plan was not viable, so destruction ceased) for when I revisited the site about 15 years was a full-blown tourist site complete with a history club bent on restoration and tours. However, I believe I am one of the few Americans to visit the site. The tour I took was in Dutch (given to an aging group of French visitors (luckily they had tour director who could translate to Flemish and English).

I have also visited the Maginot Line Forts and noticed several differences in the construction and overall attitude of the use of these forts. French Maginot forts were designed to be self-sufficient and interactive during war. That is...they each had their own water, electrical, and communication service within the individual forts; as well as each fort mutually supported the other. The total crew for each fort was housed inside during their tour of duty. Eben-Emael was a stand-alone fort designed to protect 3 key bridges across the river (and destroy them if necessary). The bulk of the personnel maining the fort stayed at the local town located about 1 kilometer away. Electricity was provided by the local utilites with one overhead wire going into the fort. Water came from a well outside the fort; and communication was thru the local switchboard (no radios). So I could see how little more than a platoon of German glider troops could surprise the cadre, force them to lockdown the fort, then methodically knock out the electricity and communications...leaving the men in the fort without light or power...and only hearing the Germans on the phone telling them they were surrounded and hopelessly outnumbered.

A few after-action reports are necessary to clarify the speed and success of the German troops. Prior to action, the Germans were extremely concerned about the area of the fort. Their intelligence learned there was no 'asparagas' on the grassy field making up the top of the fort to destroy gliders as they attempted to land. Their next concern was whether they had 'mined' that same area to prevent anyone using it as an access. They learned every Saturday the men assigned to the fort played futball (soccer)on that same field (so no mines). Now, what about those 'hollow charges'? I learned that they didn't work the way you are lead to believe. Most damage was done with at least several charges...and most created more noise and 'flaking' than actually blowing a hole thru the cupolas. But they were the 'biggest bang' the glider troops could deliver and the troops inside wouldn't have any idea. The most damage was done at one door site, but again with multiple munitions. Speed and surprise was the key ingredient as the Belgiums' believed their own press about how strong the fort was.Jermizzou (talk) 19:27, 31 July 2008 (UTC)jermizzou

Despite living in that area for quite a while, I never got around to going to the Fort. Perhaps one day I will. Red4tribe (talk) 21:20, 31 July 2008 (UTC)


The German 6. Armee under the command of Walther von Reichenau approaching from the line Aachen-Venlo, had the order to quickly cross the Maas, breaching the Belgian defenses, with the general direction of Tienen. The German forces intended to bind the Allied forces in central Belgium and at the same time divert the Allies from the main German thrust for Sedan-Abbeville.[1]

The left side of the German force roughly coincided with the southern boarder of Limburg. The plans for Eben Emael and vicinity were devised by Adolf Hitler. The German's committed to this attack: [1]

  1. Bataillon z.b.V. 100
  2. Assault Detachment Koch (German language: Sturmabteilung Koch) from the 7 Fliegerdivision
  3. Infanterie-Regiment 151, augmented by Pionierbataillon 51 (Oberstleutnant Hans Mikosch)
  4. 4. Panzer-Division
  5. Elements of VIII Fliegerkorps

The respective orders were:[1]

  1. Taking the three bridges at Maastricht
  2. Taking the bridges at Veldwezelt, Vroenhoven and Kanne as well as eliminating fortress Eben-Emael
  3. To relieve the troops at Eben-Emael and taking the fortress
  4. Establishing bridgeheads at Veldwezelt, Vroenhoven and Kanne
  5. Achieving aerial superiority

Order 1: Taking the three bridges at Maastricht[edit]

Bataillon z.b.V. 100 was tasked with taking the bridges at Maastricht, largely because the objective could not be reached by paratroopers or transport gliders.[1]

The plan was comprised of three phases:[2]

  1. Soldiers disguised as civilians were already in Maastricht on 8 May 1940 or arrived on 9 May. They received bicycles in Voerendal and were ordered to Maastricht to sabotage the self-destruction charges on the bridges.
  2. Sonderverband Hocke: Soldiers in uniforms of the Netherlands Military Police were to cross the boarder at Sittard heading for Maastricht on the night of 9/10 May. Riding on motorcycles they were tasked with the same objective, stepping in if the first group failed.
  3. A fast armored unit was to head for Maastricht, parallel to the other German divisions. The objective was to take the bridges and halt behind Geleen-Gulpen-Epen.

The 4. Panzer-Division was expected to arrive at Maastricht by 10.00 o'clock.[2]

Order 2: The Bridges at Veldwezelt, Vroenhoven, Kanne and fortress Eben-Emael[edit]

A DFS 230 transport glider

The objectives could not be reached by conventional means in consideration of the Belgian preparations. This included traditional weapons as well as paratroopers. The Germans therefore considered a new method, transport gliders, a new weapon, Shaped charges and a plan executed under the element of surprise and under total secrecy.

Adolf Hitler ordered Generalmajor Kurt Student to the Reichs Chancellery in Berlin on 27 October 1939. Student is tasked to take position to the following objectives:

  1. The 7 Fliegerdivision and the 22. Luftlandedivision under the command of Student are to take the Belgian Reduit national holding out until relieved by the Heer.
  2. A further Fallschirm-unit was to take Fortress Eben-Emael and the bridges across the Albert Canal as well as the Maas bridges at Maastricht, thus enabling the rapid crossing of the Maas and Albert Canal.

A few days later Student responded that the objective can be achieved.

Taking the bridges was the highest priority for the Germans. For that reason the leader of the Sturmabteilung, Hauptmann Koch, was a member of the group targeted for Vroenhoven. Eben-Emael was given secondary priority.[3]

In preparation they had practiced assaulting a full-scale mock up of the fort's exterior in occupied Czechoslovakia using the recently built and captured Beneš Wall that was modeled to a large degree on Allied designs. Here they tested the theory and use of Shaped charge explosives with associated combat training. The Germans also decided on using Military gliders (supposedly Hitler's idea) as the best way to drop troops pin point on the fortress with the weapons and explosives.

Order of battle and code names[edit]
Veldwezelt Stahl 9 transport gliders 1 officer and 91 men (Oberleutnant Gustav Altmann)
Vroenhoven Beton 11 transport gliders 5 officers and 129 men (Hauptmann Walter Koch)
Kanne Eisen 10 transport gliders 2 officers and 88 men (Leutnant Martin Schächter)
Eben-Emael Granit 11 transport gliders 2 officers and 88 men (Oberleutnant Rudolf Witzig)

Order 3: Relieving the troops at Eben-Emael and taking the fortress[edit]

Infanterie-Regiment 151 augmented by the Pionierbataillon 51 were to form the spearhead of the 4. Panzer-Division and was to swerve south from Maastricht, passing though the Jeker valley to Kanne and targeting for Eben-Emael. Requested was the unconditional and ruthless strive for Eben-Emael. Orders were to take the fortress by 10:30 because the Luftwaffe would not be able to render support from then on.[4]

The order for recklessness was not directed towards the enemy but rather meant for the German troops and own casualties.[4]

Order 4: Establishing bridheads at Veldwezelt, Vroenhoven and Kanne[edit]

It was expected that the bridgeheads were established by 10.00 o'clock.[4]

Safekeeping II[edit]

The Bridges at Maastricht[edit]

The soldiers dressed as civilians failed to sabotage the destructive charges. The Sonderverband Hocke was detected and delayed by Belgian defences at Borgharen and Heer. The motorized detachment from Sittard breached the defenses at Rothem but was stopped at Wijck, just in sight of the bridges. The bridges were blown up at 8.00 am delaying the entire campaign by 24 hours.[5]

Safekeeping III[edit]

Early in the morning of the 10 May, the Luftwaffe unit 17./KGrzbVof Luftlandegeschwader 1 and its Junkers Ju 52 transports delivered the German paratroop infantry to their target. Under the command of Sturmabteilung Koch, the three German battlegroups, Gruppen Eisen, Beton and Stahl, quickly seized the three bridges, the Kanne, Vroenhoven, and Veldwezelt. The Belgian defenders were confused by 400 German dummy paratroops, dropped to confuse the defenders further. The Luftwaffe also assisted the assault teams in the initial attack. Lehrgeschwader 2's unit, II.(Schl)./LG 2, with Henschel Hs 123s, hindered Belgian attempts to counter the German attack or reinforce its positions.[6] Sturzkampfgeschwader 2's Junkers Ju 87s also delivered effective attacks against the nearby town of Lanaeken, destroying the Headquarters of the Belgian defence forces and preventing the order to demolish the bridges, in the event of a surprise German assault, from reaching the Belgian engineers. As a result just one bridge was successfully blown up.[7]

Safekeeping IV[edit]

References in the Wehrmachtbericht[edit]

Date Original German Wehrmachtbericht wording Direct English translation
Saturday, 11 May 1940 (Sondermeldung) Das stärkste Fort der Festung Lüttich, Eben-Emael, das die Übergänge über die Maas und den Albert-Kanal bei und westlich Maastricht beherrscht, hat sich Sonnabendnachmittag ergeben. Der Kommandant und 1000 Mann wurden gefangen genommen.
Das Fort wurde schon am 10. Mai durch eine ausgesuchte Abteilung der Luftwaffe unter Führung von Oberleutnant Witzig und unter Einsatz neuartiger Angriffsmittel kampfunfähig gemacht und die Besatzung niedergehalten. Als es einem von Norden angreifenden Verband des Heeres nach hartem Kampf gelungen war, die Verbindung mit der Abteilung Witzig herzustellen, hat die Besatzung ihre Waffen gestreckt.
(Extra) The strongest fort of the fortress Lüttich, Eben-Emael, which dominates the crossings of the Maas and Albert-Canal near and west of Maastrich surrendered Saturday afternoon. The commanding officer and 1000 men were taken prisoner of war.
The fort was already rendered defenceless and the garrison sustained on 10 May by a specially selected unit of the Luftwaffe under the leadership of Oberleutnant Witzig and deploying new combat means. The garrison dropped their arms when an attacking unit of the Army, after heavy combat, established contact with the detachment Witzig.
Sunday, 12 May 1941 Zwischen Hasselt und Maastricht ist der Übergang über den Albert-Kanal erzwungen. Das Fort Eben-Emael, südlich Maastricht, der stärkste Eckpfeiler Lüttichs, ist, wie schon durch Sondermeldung bekanntgegeben in deutscher Hand. Der Kommandant und die Besatzung von 1000 Mann haben sich ergeben.[9] The crossing of the Albert-Canal between Hasselt and Maastricht was enforced. Fort Eben-Emael, south of Maastricht, the strongest corner pillar of Lüttich, as communicated yesterday by extra special report, is in German hands. The commanding officer and 1000 men surrendered.
  • Die Wehrmachtberichte 1939-1945 Band 1, 1. September 1939 bis 31. Dezember 1941 (in German). München: Deutscher Taschenbuch Verlag GmbH & Co. KG, 1985. ISBN 3-423-05944-3.

Safekeeping V[edit]

Knight's Cross awarded

Picture Safekeeping[edit]

GA Review[edit]

This review is transcluded from Talk:Battle of Fort Eben-Emael/GA1. The edit link for this section can be used to add comments to the review.

Well written— It passes, but just so that this review doesn't seem empty, I'll give a few suggestions:

  1. So that it doesn't send the reader to a re-direct, I suggest wikilinking Fall Gelb to Battle of France, as in [[Battle of France|Fall Gelb]].
  2. I think "Dyle river" is preferred over "River Dyle", and you could probably wikilink it. It might allow the reader to gain a better idea of what the geography of the relevant area looks likes.
  3. Numbers at the beginning of sentences should be spelled out.

Factually accurate and verifiable— This, of course, is passed.

Broad in coverage— Obviously, yes.

Neutrality, stability and images Pass, pass, pass!

The article passes the GA review. If you have any questions, you know I'll be around to answer them! Good luck! JonCatalán(Talk) 19:56, 15 October 2008 (UTC)

File:Flight plan of 17. KG zbV 5 to Eben-Emael and the Albert canal bridges,10 May 1940 .JPG Nominated for Deletion[edit]

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  1. ^ a b c d Vliegen 1988, p. 33.
  2. ^ a b Vliegen 1988, p. 34.
  3. ^ Vliegen 1988, p. 35.
  4. ^ a b c Vliegen 1988, p. 38.
  5. ^ Vliegen 1988, p. 41.
  6. ^ Hooton 2007, p. 53.
  7. ^ Weal 1997, p. 43.
  8. ^ Die Wehrmachtberichte 1939-1945 Band 1, p. 144, 145.
  9. ^ Die Wehrmachtberichte 1939-1945 Band 1, p. 145.