|Home > Reviews > Germany WWII > Fortress 15: Germany’s West Wall: The Siegfried Line|
This new series is moving along quite handily and in a very short time has grown considerably. This latest title describes Germany’s West Wall, more popularly known as the Siegfried Line.
The text starts out by outlining the military need that drove the Germans to conceive and construct such defenses, as well as the eventual neglect and refurbishment of the line. Probably the most interesting parts are where the author describes construction techniques and the “start-and-stop” nature of the entire project. Because, as the strategic situation changed for, and then against Germany, work on the West Wall was either accelerated or delayed. Some sections of the wall were even dismantled.
The lot of the volunteer laborers who initially built the fortifications is also described. It was back-breaking work and most labor camps were sparsely appointed, while the food was not the best. In spite of the propaganda to the contrary, these initial workers were not “happy campers”!
Construction materials, such as steel, iron, concrete, gravel, sand and wood were used at a staggering rate. In fact, many of Hitler’s grandiose building projects were postponed (never, of course, to be realized) in order to divert these materials to the wall’s construction as part of the so-called “Limesprogramm”. Various charts and graphs explain these aspects quite graphically. Tables also detail costs of such things as weapons mounts and fortifications, the numbers produced and their type designations.
But the real grist for the modeler’s mill is the physical aspects of the defenses themselves, from the bunkers and support systems to the infamous “Dragon’s Teeth” anti-tank obstacles. The author also describes how the fortifications were blended into the surrounding terrain either to camouflage them or to use the terrain to advantage. How the supporting fields of fire of a group of fortifications interlocked for mutual defense is graphically depicted as is eventual allied methods to attack and eliminate the various strong-points. These are detailed with contemporary photographs, CAD art and photos taken by the author of surviving segments of the wall. Technical details of the fortifications, their weapons and mounts are also shown. These include ventilation systems, gun ports and mounts, special weapons, entry and egress areas, steel and concrete thicknesses for a given level of defense and crew quarters. Some of the more extensive fortifications also had tunnel and rail systems, vast supply dumps, hospitals, vehicle parks and barracks, all hidden underground. The author also describes some very elaborate systems that were conceived, and construction started, only to be postponed and eventually never realized.
Life for those assigned to the wall, from the bucolic days of the so-called “Sitzkrieg”, through the grim, uncomfortable reality of the daily routine during the final assaults by the allies are also shown. Indeed, one interesting photo and a piece of CAD art derived from it, show how a bunker’s garrison used the area around their position for a vegetable and flower garden. Now, there’s a diorama idea!
So, modelers of dioramas should find much to occupy themselves within these covers.
Frank De Sisto