© Gros Ouvrage du Hackenberg - Tourelle | Association Amifort
In the bowels of

Hackenberg Maginot Fort

Enter the mouth of the monster that protects France’s borders! It’s Sunday afternoon with the family, it’s cold and grey but we want to go out and learn more about our history and visit its sites. We decided on the large Ouvrage Hackenberg in Veckring. The indoor temperature was said to be 12 degrees and the outdoor temperature was 12 degrees, so it would be easy to acclimatise. With a 2.5-hour visit in front of us, it’s best to be prepared.

Elodie - Equipe Pays Thionvillois TourismeElodie - Equipe Pays Thionvillois Tourisme
Elodie

A local expert invites you and your family to discover the history of the Maginot Line through one of its largest structures, the Ouvrage Hackenberg in Veckring.

The visits little added extras

The underground vintage train ride

We love the guide’s stories about the soldiers’ lives

Discover the local history

DISCOVER THE HISTORY OF THE MAGINOT LINE

The adventure starts even before we go through the doors of this “monster” of the Maginot Line. Starting with why Maginot? It’s quite simply named after the Minister of War who brought the bill before Parliament in 1930. The aim was simple, to protect France’s exposed borders. Would you believe that this is why there are forts in Corsica?!

The name Gros Ouvrage A19 conceals the fort’s identity: A for Artillery and 19 for its classification in the register of forts.

CLIMB DOWN

INTO THE FORTRESS

After providing us with a little context, we enter the mouth of the monster and commence our expedition through its 10 km-long gallery. Don’t worry, you won’t be walking 10 km! Along the way, we see a door weighing 8 tonnes which has been deformed by explosion! Imagine the power of the blast. Slightly further on, an American tank (to be honest, it isn’t exactly the right term but it looks like a tank to a novices such as me) from the Second World War, donated by an association in Normandy, as well as marks in the ground caused by gunfire on 17 November 1944 during the Liberation.

But the Ouvrage Hackenberg is also a genuine miniature underground factory: 1,800 men and women contributed to the construction of the gallery; a railway connects the fort to the Pays Messin to facilitate supplies; it has its own spring and, above all, you can see ancient machines still in working order, in particular the power station and the artillery turret.

SET OUT

ALONG THE UNDERGROUND PASSAGES

The corridors are lined with reconstructions of living quarters as they were when the fort was created: kitchens, dormitories, doctor’s office, operating theatre, dentist, telephone office, etc.

While waiting for the little train which dates from the period and which carries us from the gallery to block 9, the guide will be honest enough to admit that this fort did not serve any great purpose given the speed at which the 1940 Armistice was declared. But that is another subject.

To return to the surface and see the turrets in action, you have to climb no fewer than 143 steps that follow a strange and very narrow slide. It was used to collect bullet casings for recycling.

Once we return to the open-air, we discover a new side to the Moselle landscape and, above all, on a clear day, we are able to see Luxembourg and Germany, just to remind us even further of how close we are to the border and of the importance of this structure, which will soon be 100 years’ old.

TRAVEL BACK IN TIME

Once you’ve seen enough it’s time to leave. You enter the fort again, this time you climb back down the 143 steps (for those who are afraid, don’t worry, a lift will guide you) and the same little train takes you back to the block where you find the exit. The visit is over; all that remains is to warm yourself with a hot cup of coffee.

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An unforgettable discovery of the world of the Maginot Line. A 1.4km underground train ride. We saw a moving cannon underground and then on the surface. Plenty of reconstructions with the kitchen, the doctor, and a lift dating from 1936 for those who don’t climb stairs. The visit takes almost 3 hours but the time flew by.

Elodie