The Great Wall of France: The Triumph of the Maginot Line

The Great Wall of France: The Triumph of the Maginot Line

The Great Wall of France: The Triumph of the Maginot Line

The Great Wall of France: The Triumph of the Maginot Line

Excerpt

For the first two years after the end of the First World War, distrust of Germany was still far too deeply rooted for even the severe terms of the Treaty of Versailles to bring relief to the fears of France. When these terms came up before the French Parliament for formal approval the spokesman for all those who felt they were insufficient for the future safety of the country was ex- Sergeant André Maginot. Dragging an almost useless leg, supporting himself upon two sticks, he rose to make prophecies that time would fulfil.

"We are always the invaded, [thundered this wrecked giant of a man from the tribune] we are always the ones to suffer, we are always the ones to be sacrificed. Fifteen invasions in less than six centuries give us the right to insist upon a victor's treaty that will offer something more realistic than temporary solutions and uncertain hopes. They do more; they make it our duty to do so. After all we have suffered, we have the right to demand certainties. This treaty does not provide certainties, either in respect of the reparations due to us, or in respect of security. Without proper guarantees of both, it is going beyond the possibilities of human nature to expect our people to rebuild the regions that remain exposed to the risks and calamities of a new invasion."

In the end he was proved doubly right: reparations were not paid, security was not achieved. At heart probably most French- men agreed with him, but a weary people, almost entirely deprived of the young men who should have been the dynamic link between the tired old ones and boys still at school, could not . . .

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