Fieldworks, part 4 (yeah, Bitche)

Rows upon rows of dragon’s teeth, trapetzoid concrete plinths between 90 to 120 centimeters tall, intended to stop tanks and other vehicles from crossing. There are minefields in front of them, and barbed wire obstacles will be added later. Mines are probably dug down between the “teeth”, too. In this open landscape, there are few natural points for bunkers or pillboxes, but those were probably added later. This is the view from the “enemy” side of the Westwall, or the “Siegfried Line” as the Allies called it, near the town of Bitche in Lorraine, France.

Dragon’s teeth were common tank obstacles in locations where the defenders had time to prepare the defenses. They could be seen in Normandy as part of the Atlantic Wall, and the British placed a lot of them in strategic locations when a German invasion was still a possibility. Beams, poles or large rocks were other obstacles used, usually in conjunction with minefields.

Lorraine (and the neighboring Alsace) has been contested over the centuries, passing between French and German ownership several times. The region became German after the Franco-Prussian war of 1870-71, but reverted to French ownership in 1918. It was occupied by Germany in 1940-44. In March 1945 the U.S. 100th Infantry Division broke through the Maginot Line in the Bitche area and liberated the town, which had been occupied by German troops.

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