Photographer's Note

Fort Eben-Emael (French: Fort d'Ében-Émael) is an inactive Belgian fortress located between Liège and Maastricht, on the Belgian-Dutch border, near the Albert Canal, and designed to defend Belgium from a German attack across the narrow belt of Dutch territory in the region. Constructed in 1931–1935, it was reputed to be impregnable and at the time, the largest in the world. The fort was successfully neutralized by glider-borne German troops (56 men) on 10 May 1940 during the Second World War. The action cleared the way for German ground forces to enter Belgium, unhindered by fire from Eben-Emael. Still the property of the Belgian Army, the fort has been preserved and may be visited.

On 10 May 1940, 78 paratroopers of the German 7th Flieger (later 1st Fallschirmjäger Division) landed on the fortress with gliders (type DFS 230), armed with special high explosives to attack the fortress and its guns. Most of the fort's defenses were lightly manned and taken by complete surprise. Much of the fort's defensive armament was destroyed in a few minutes. The attackers were unable to penetrate inside the underground galleries, but the garrison was unable to dislodge them from the surface of the fort. The fortress surrendered one day later, when the German paratroopers were reinforced by the German 151st Infantry Regiment. While 1200 soldiers were authorized to be at the fort on any given day, only 650 were at the fort with an additional 233 soldiers 6 km away at the time of the German assault.

However, the Germans had planned the capture of the fort well in advance. In preparation they had practiced assaulting a full-scale mock up of the fort's exterior in occupied Czechoslovakia using the recently built and captured border fortifications that were modeled to a large degree on western designs. Adolf Hitler himself conceived of a plan to take over the fort by getting men on the fort by using gliders to overcome the problem of concentrating an airdrop on a small target, and utilizing the new top secret shaped charge (also called "hollow charge") bombs to penetrate the cupolas.

Good espionage and superior planning, combined with unpreparedness on the Belgian side, helped make the execution of Hitler's top secret plan a swift and overwhelming success. The capture of Eben-Emael involved the first utilization of gliders for the initial attack and the first use of hollow charge devices in war. The gliders, led by First Lieutenant Rudolf Witzig, landed on the roof of the fortress and being totally silent took the defenders by complete surprise. There they were able to use the hollow charges to destroy or disable the gun cupolas. They also used a flamethrower against machine guns. The Belgians did destroy one of the key bridges, preventing it from being used by the Germans but also preventing a relieving force from aiding the fortress. The Germans lost only 6 of the assaulting engineers and had 21 wounded, keeping pinned all the defenders until the arrival of the main attacking army. After the extraordinary success in the capture of the fort, Hitler personally decorated all the participants in the assault. Eben Emael, considered the strongest fortress in the world, was the linchpin of the Belgian main line of defense and dominated all terrestrial communications around the Albert Canal. It was a sensational coup and its loss delivered a hard blow from which the Belgian Army was not able to recuperate. (source: Wikipedia )

Thank you for visiting and all the comments on my previous images

BTW they dugout more then 5km (3 miles) of these underground galleries.

Kind regrads


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Additional Photos by Eric Van Dael (Eric_vd) Gold Star Critiquer/Silver Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 88 W: 12 N: 131] (859)
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