(From Wikipedia, photo by European Focus
The Maginot Line named after the French Minister of War André Maginot, was a line of concrete fortifications, obstacles, and weapons installations that France constructed along its borders with Germany during the 1930s. The line was a response to France’s experience in World War I and was constructed during the run-up to World War II. A similar line of defenses, called the Alpine Line, faced Italy.
The French established the fortification to provide time for their army to mobilize in the event of attack, allowing French forces to move into Belgium for a decisive confrontation with Germany. The success of static, defensive combat in World War I was a key influence on French thinking. Military experts extolled the Maginot Line as a work of genius, believing it would prevent any further invasions from the east.
While the fortification system did prevent a direct attack, it was strategically ineffective, as the Germans invaded through Belgium, outflanking the Maginot Line. The German army ran through the Ardennes forest and the Low Countries, completely sweeping by the line, defeating the French army and conquering France in about six weeks.As such, reference to the Maginot Line is used to recall a strategy or object that people hope will prove effective but instead fails miserably. It is also the best known symbol of the adage that “generals always fight the last war, especially if they have won it”.
The Maginot Line was impervious to most forms of attack, and had state-of-the-art living conditions for garrisoned troops, air conditioning,´comfortable eating areas and underground railways. However, it proved costly to maintain and subsequently led to other parts of the French Armed Forces being underfunded.
A great example of how those who decide to fight wars do not actually fight them. It makes us sad every time we visit a cemetery in Europe, filled with sparkling white crosses of the dead. And yet, very few if any generals.