Consequently, starting in 1929 and at great cost, they built along the frontier in this area a huge chain of fortifications named The Maginot Line after the French Minister of War at that time, Andre Maginot. This foresight went unrewarded because, when the Germans invaded in 1940, they simply circumvented the Maginot Line by entering France via Belgium. At about the same time, similar events were taking place in the Far East, where the huge fortifications of Singapore on its seaward-facing southern side did not prevent a Japanese invasion over land via Malaya in the north. Various parts of the Maginot Line have been preserved and can still be seen in the area between Metz and Trier. This contrasts with my experience of the Iron Curtain. After visiting Hungary and the former Czechoslovakia last year, I wrote on this website of my surprise that I saw no traces of the Iron Curtain. An important piece of 20th century history seemed to have vanished, even though many people had died in their attempts to escape across the Iron Curtain and thereby reach “the West”. At least the Maginot Line seems to have avoided a similar disappearance.
Click on video of Metz, France showing St. Etienne Cathedral and market.
The great cathedral in the French city of Metz is called St Etienne. It was consecrated in 1552, after being under construction for several centuries. We toured the cathedral, with its magnificent stained glass windows and one of the highest naves in the world. Afterwards, we lunched in the sunshine at a pavement café in the Place d’Armes. This is a rectangular area, which is the center of Metz and is surrounded by elegant buildings. One side is occupied by the Hotel de Ville – “city hall” as Americans would say or “rathaus” as Germans would call it. The opposite side is occupied by the cathedral itself. On the outside of the cathedral has been fixed a tablet to commemorate the events that took place in the Place d’Armes on November 26th 1918. It was a march past before Marshal Foch, who commanded the French Army in World War One. This took place only a couple of weeks after he signed the armistice that had ended the war. An important term of that armistice was that the Alsace-Lorraine region, in which Metz is a major city, was returned to France after over 40 years of German occupation.
Click on video to see performance of La Marseillaise, the French National Anthem.
|Karl Marx birthplace in Trier
|Karl Marx in the Reading Room at the British Museum
This piece, written by Bob, was originally posted on our website on June 1, 2010.