The Maginot Line evolved over five periods. The first period, which began in 1919, involved a study requested by Georges Clemenceau to examine the problems and the contradictory ideas on fortifications. Two commissions, the Commission Alheilig in 1920 and the Comité Technique du Génie (Committee of Engineering Techniques) in 1922 studied the forts of Verdun and the new techniques of fortification.
The second period began in August 1922 when General Guillaumat was appointed to lead the Commision de Défense des Territoires (Committee of Territorial Defense). The committee's report, which recommended a series of non-continuous fortified regions, was concluded in 1925. A new committee, the Commission de Défense des Frontieres (Committee of Frontier Defense - CDF), was created , with Guillaumat once again as president. This committee decided to construct three fortified regions - Metz, Lauter, and Belfort, and gave its preference to ultramodern, permanent fortifications.
The third period consisted of the actual construction of the fortifications, which was placed in the hands of the Commission d'Organization des Régions Fortifiées (Committe for the Organization of the Fortified Regions - CORF. The role of the CORF was to determine the location for and role of each of the works, known as ouvrages. The execution of the construction would be left to the Engineering Department, specifically the Section Technique du Génie (Technical Engineering Section -STG). The design of armaments and their construction would be handled by the Director of Artillery.
-- 464 km of high-tension lines and transformer stations to connect with the interior
-- 318 km of medium-tension lines, of which 137 km were underground for the junction of the powerhouses of the large works
The fourth period involved extension of the pillboxes to the northwest, on the so-called "new fronts" - the Saar gap, the High Vosges, and the invasion routes through Belgium, and selection and training of the troops who would man the fortifications.
The forts not only needed good soldiers, but good technicians. Elite units, known as "Fortress Troops," consisting of infantry, artillery, and a corps of NCOs to run the electromechanics, communications, and artillery equipment were created. The fortress garrison was referred to as l'équipage, underlining the cohesion which existed between the infantry, artillery, technicians, and engineers of each ouvrage. The highest priority was given by the High Command to assigning the best officers to command the ouvrage.
The fifth and final period, from 1939 to 1940, consisted of continued construction, strengthening the anti-tank obstacles on the first position, construction of a second position 25 kilometers behind the first, improvements to Paris defenses, and refinement of all aspects of the fortifications.
Thus, by the time Hitler invaded Poland, the Maginot Line was a reality. It consisted of two fortified regions directed towards the most menacing invasion axis. The first was the Lauter Fortified Region (RF Lauter). RF Lauter began in the east at the Rhine, traversed the Plain of Alsace and High Vosges, past the Army garrison at Bitche, to the plateau of Lorraine by the Simserhof works, and anchoring on the Saar River. RF Metz formed the main part of the defenses of the northeast industrial regions. It covered the railroads used to transport the armies into Lorraine, depots in Metz, the Briey-Thionville iron works, the coal mines of Faulquemont, and the mining basin of Forbach. The industrial installations of Longwy were considered too close to the border and were left in front of the line. East of Faulquemont, the line crossed the top of the cliffs which dominate St. Avold, followed the heights of the Nied region, passed by the Hackenberg ridge, across the Moselle valley to the north of Thionville, through the Cattenom Forest, to the plateau of Rochonvillers and Aumetz, and termiated at Longuyon's Fermont works.
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