The Forts & Fortifications of Europe 1815-1945, The Neutral States

B2144

The Medieval castle has always caught the imagination and its demise as an active military concept was a result of the development of heavier guns that increased the chances of rapidly surrounding and defeating its inhabitants. The result was imposing structures that saw service as prisons and administration centres, before becoming interesting artefacts to be examined by tourists. This may explain why subsequent updated versions of the technology were produced into modern times but largely overlooked. This book is another volume in an excellent series that uncovers the history of these fortifications, in this volume looking carefully at the fortifications of three neutral countries during the 19th and 20th Centuries. It is very well illustrated throughout and its authors once more present an authoritative history that is unlikely to be equalled and never to be beaten by any other account of the subjects.

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NAME: The Forts & Fortifications of Europe 1815-1945, The Neutral States
DATE: 200215
FILE: R2144
AUTHOR: J E Kaufmann, H W Kaufmann
PUBLISHER: Pen & Sword
BINDING: hard back
PAGES: 234
PRICE: £25.00
GENRE: Non Fiction
SUBJECT: Forts, castles, fortifications, defensive lines, strong points, fixed defences, artillery, Netherlands, Belgium, Switzerland, neutral States
ISBN: 1-78346-392-9
IMAGE: B2144.jpg
BUYNOW: http://tinyurl.com/p4sp82q
LINKS:
DESCRIPTION: The Medieval castle has always caught the imagination and its demise as an active military concept was a result of the development of heavier guns that increased the chances of rapidly surrounding and defeating its inhabitants. The result was imposing structures that saw service as prisons and administration centres, before becoming interesting artefacts to be examined by tourists. This may explain why subsequent updated versions of the technology were produced into modern times but largely overlooked. This book is another volume in an excellent series that uncovers the history of these fortifications, in this volume looking carefully at the fortifications of three neutral countries during the 19th and 20th Centuries. It is very well illustrated throughout and its authors once more present an authoritative history that is unlikely to be equalled and never to be beaten by any other account of the subjects.

It is a very compelling account that shows how some defences can succeed when other similar defences fail. Switzerland was once again the great survivor in a troubled Continent. It is always debatable that Switzerland has remained untroubled because it built effective defences, or because it was not an essential destination for any of the trouble makers who have damaged Europe. The terrain does lend itself to defence. Undoubtedly, Switzerland has attractive assets that a conqueror might wish to obtain, but the combination of skilful politics and banking services that are more useful as independent services, together with a terrain that favours the defender, have kept Switzerland free of occupying forces through the 19th and 20th Century. Had an enemy wished to occupy the country, the defences could have been overcome, but the cost of doing this was never considered profitable.

By contrast, the Netherlands and Belgium were not so fortunate. Both countries had been the cockpit of Europe for Centuries as a variety of armies rolled back and forth over their lands. In their case, they were seen as a potential flank threat and as a useful route into France for Germany. They both held colonies in distant lands and were considered a useful financial addition to any expanding Empire.

The Germans happily rolled through Belgium on their way to defeat France and the fixed fortifications served to help in the defeat of France because they were border defences against German invasion and, in WWII, left a weak point in France’s fixed defensive line. The attacker had two options. One was to find a way around the fortifications, and the alternative was to use new technology to capture forts. In WWII, the Germans used assault gliders and paratroopers to take the Belgian border forts and open the way for a rapid German advance through Belgium and into France, around the end of the Maginot Line.

In the end, the real success of fortifications was to prove to be a strong political/diplomatic position that made it more attractive for a potential attacker to find a softer or more profitable target. As with any weapons system, fortifications have to adapt to changing threats and history has shown that the attacker has rarely been countered effectively by fixed defences. However, bunkers continue to be built and even some ancient fortifications survive in greatly updated form.

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