Maginot Line

Maginot Line (măzhˈĭnō, Fr. mäzhēnōˈ) [key], system of fortifications along the eastern frontier of France, extending from the Swiss border to the Belgian. It was named for André Maginot, who was French minister of war (1929–32) and who directed its construction. Although considered impregnable, the line was still not complete at the outbreak (1939) of World War II. Its actual strength was never tested, for the line was flanked by the Germans in their French campaign of 1940. Like fortified lines since the Great Wall of China, the chief effect it had was to create a false sense of security; it could not eliminate the necessity for mobile warfare, and that particular lesson was thoroughly learned after the French collapse of 1940.

See V. Rowe, The Great Wall of France (1959); J. M. Hughes, To the Maginot Line (1971).

The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.

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