- Maginot line
/mazh"euh noh'/; Fr. /mann zhee noh"/1. a zone of heavy defensive fortifications erected by France along its eastern border in the years preceding World War II, but outflanked in 1940 when the German army attacked through Belgium.2. any elaborate line of defense or set of barriers.[1925-30; after André Maginot (1877-1932), French minister of war]
* * *Elaborate defensive barrier in northeastern France built in the 1930s.Named after its principal creator, Andre Maginot, it was an ultramodern defensive fortification along the French-German frontier. Made of thick concrete and supplied with heavy guns, it had living quarters, supply storehouses, and underground rail lines. However, it ended at the French-Belgian frontier, which German forces crossed in May 1940. They invaded Belgium (May 10), crossed the Somme River, struck at the northern end of the line (May 12), and continued around to its rear, making it useless.
* * *▪ French fortification, Europeelaborate defensive barrier in northeast France constructed in the 1930s and named after its principal creator, André Maginot, who was France's minister of war in 1929–31.The fact that certain modern fortresses had held out against German artillery during World War I, as well as the admitted saving in military manpower, induced France to build the celebrated Maginot Line as a permanent defense against German attack. This ultramodern defensive fortification showed traces of the old circular system of fortifications, but its dominant feature was linear. The Maginot Line was, from the standpoint of the troops, a tremendous advance over previous fortifications. Its concrete was thicker than anything theretofore known and its guns heavier. In addition, there were air-conditioned areas for the troops, and the line was usually referred to as being more comfortable than a modern city. There were recreation areas, living quarters, supply storehouses, and underground rail lines connecting various portions of the line. Strongpoints had been established in depth, capable of being supported by troops moved underground by rail.Unfortunately, the line covered the French–German frontier, but not the French–Belgian. Thus the Germans in May 1940 outflanked the line. They invaded Belgium on May 10, continued their march through Belgium, crossed the Somme River, and on May 12 struck at Sedan at the northern end of the Maginot Line. Having made a breakthrough with their tanks and planes, they continued around to the rear of the line, making it useless.
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