How would you influence France so that it would build a better Maginot Line?

Larrey

Ad Honorem
Sep 2011
5,257
#21
The points and counterpoints have already been made countless times on other threads, but this thread is really not about such opinions. Instead, this thread is more about learning the specific details at the specific points in history while speculating about the better Maginot designs (that does not include not building it).
Not really sure what's asked for then. "Better" is relative.

Better than what it actually contained as in more? But considering the Germans went out of their way to avoid having to tangle directly with it (until the French were defeated and it was relatively safe to do so, when Goebbel's made a nice propaganda film about it), taking some considerable calculated risks in the process, that seems entirely redundant.

The Maginot as was didn't need any improvements. Which means the "better" bits would either have to be about its extension to cover more frontage, along the Belgian border, or more general changes to the French campaign plans NOT involving the Maginot Line?
 

Larrey

Ad Honorem
Sep 2011
5,257
#22
Continued...

Or, come to think about it, the question might not be how to make the actual Maginot line "better", but rather to identify which feature might have represented "overinsurance", i.e. reasonably speaking have been redundant for the task of deterring the German from having a crack at it directly – which then could mean resources might have been available for extending defensive works elsewhere?

But then it's less about making the Maginot line "better" but actually making it "worse", to allow the alternative cost to be spent elsewhere.

I have a book by René de Chambrun, published in 1941 (Chambrun served in the Maginot Line in 1940, and irc he was the son-in-law of Pierre Laval) making the observation that the French spending on the Maginot Line as an alternative might have paid for a fleet of upwards of 30 modern battleships. So some alternative spending might have paid for rather a lot of things.
 

sparky

Ad Honorem
Jan 2017
4,382
Sydney
#23
the whole point of the Maginot line was to protect the Lorraine industrial heartland of France ,
it's loss in 1914 created very serious production problem for the French Army
like 80% of their steel production
protecting it was the number one concern of the building project
extending it to Belgium was never really considered since it was understood that the French Army would move and Fight on Belgium territory
thus sparing France from the ravage of WW1 ( sorry Belgians )
 
Oct 2013
14,074
Europix
#24
One wonders whether a continued alliance with the US would have made France more committed to the war effort in 1939-1940.
With all do respect, that's a non-question: it wasn't about alliances or allies (once started, UK was "all sails up" in it! for example).

France had it's internal political problems, and that was the main reason that cripled it's military capacities. US committed, wouldn't have influenced that much.
 
Likes: Futurist
Oct 2013
14,074
Europix
#25
Maybe you or others can answer also this, but why didn't the Belgian situation change much when the Germans completed the Siegfried Line to the ocean?
It's not that Belgium's situation didn't changed. Belgium did fortified its Eastern frontier for the eventuality of an attack. Some of the fortifications were really state of the art, some less so.

IMHO, it wasn't really the Maginot line itself (and its Belgian continuation) the problem, but how it was used (and it was said already in the thread).

Plus, we do have to add that German airborne attack on the Belgian fortifications remains one of the most effective airborne action in history.
 
Likes: No Bias FTW
#26
Not really sure what's asked for then. "Better" is relative.

Better than what it actually contained as in more? But considering the Germans went out of their way to avoid having to tangle directly with it (until the French were defeated and it was relatively safe to do so, when Goebbel's made a nice propaganda film about it), taking some considerable calculated risks in the process, that seems entirely redundant.

The Maginot as was didn't need any improvements. Which means the "better" bits would either have to be about its extension to cover more frontage, along the Belgian border, or more general changes to the French campaign plans NOT involving the Maginot Line?
Yes, that is the crux of this thread. You are given unlimited numbers of petite ouvrages but only 3 gros ouvrages. How would you place and extend these ouvrages and how would you justify them to the various French and Belgian political parties?
 
Oct 2009
3,515
San Diego
#28
You can't- the French built a GREAT Maginot line.... it was simply a stupid idea on its face and you can not make a "better" version of a stupid idea.

its like asking how someone could build a BETTER version of an airplane that can't fly.


The better Idea would have been to take all that money and invest in greater mechanized ground forces.... better and more numerous tanks, artillery, and means of transport. Better roads to move armaments behind lines faster. Better and more aircraft.

Fixed fortification are monuments to the stupidity of man.
 
#29
its like asking how someone could build a BETTER version of an airplane that can't fly.


The better Idea would have been to take all that money and invest in greater mechanized ground forces.... better and more numerous tanks, artillery, and means of transport. Better roads to move armaments behind lines faster. Better and more aircraft.

Fixed fortification are monuments to the stupidity of man.
As has been stated by those more knowledgeable than I, all of those things would most likely be even more useless than the Maginot Line given the manpower and military reserves of France at the time. And as for the airplane analogy, sorry, but the Maginot actually did work (especially the Southern sector that physically halted the Italians). I was hoping for open-minded speculations that would build upon these basic facts but I guess that's too much save for a few individuals.
 
Oct 2009
3,515
San Diego
#30
As has been stated by those more knowledgeable than I, all of those things would most likely be even more useless than the Maginot Line given the manpower and military reserves of France at the time. And as for the airplane analogy, sorry, but the Maginot actually did work (especially the Southern sector that physically halted the Italians). I was hoping for open-minded speculations that would build upon these basic facts but I guess that's too much save for a few individuals.

Sorry- but No it did not work- it was intended to stop the germans from invading france. They simply went around it. That is a fail so utterly profound that the fact that its Cannons could actually fire rounds only compounds the level of stupidity- since they could have save a lot of money by simply using old rusty broken down cannons instead of functional ones.

You cite an opinion that the same money spent on mechanized mobile equipment would have been even more useless... but you have nothing you can cite to back up that opinion.

In fact- the Germans, and later the allies proved rather conclusively that the ability to manuever rapidly, and dominate the air, were the ONLY things that were effective.

The Maginot line was, in actuality, nothing but a Really really overbuilt TRENCH- that ignored the fact that Trenches could be dug rapidly and re-positioned to account for enemy advance- as can any impromptu defensive works... The French totally ignored that the reason WWII came to an end was the advent of the trench bridging TANK - which broke the the stalemate and made clear to German command that they could not afford to continue.

And the money spent on Maginot was MASSIVE- the French COULD HAVE had a larger standing army with the money they wasted on a 'wall' full of armaments that could not be moved.

Throughout history, it had been demonstrated time and again that Fixed frontier walls are NOT effective. The Great wall of china DID NOT keep the mongols out. they ended up ruling china. Hadrians wall was apparently only manned for about 80 years... and used more as a means of tax collection on cross border commerce than any actual defense.

Back before cannon- fixed walls were ONLY effective in Hard Point defense- like the perimeter of a town, or a castle. They worked because a closed perimeter can not be flanked. Of course- siege- if you had the time- could defeat any castle or walled town.

But frontier walls are imbecility- they appeal only to those without the imagination to realize that once penetrated, or flanked, they become worse than useless.

Manuever is everything in modern war.