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Linge battle field

Linge battle field

Walking through trenches and past machine gun posts in the Vosges

During the First World War, the top of the Linge, a 987-metre-high hump in the Vosges, was the scene of a bloody trench war that claimed the lives of 17,000 French and German soldiers in just a few months.

This made the 'Bataille du Linge' in 1915 one of the deadliest battles between the German Empire and France.

The fighting started in July 1915, when French troops attacked the German positions on top of the Linge. The mountain peak is located in the territory of Alsace and, like Lorraine, had been German territory since the Franco-Prussian War of 1871.

Thousands of deaths

The German army did not simply give in and repulsed the French attacks by using tear gas and flamethrowers. The French offensive became a fiasco. Seventeen thousand soldiers were killed on both sides without any significant territorial gains being made. The front finally stabilized in October 1915. From then on, the armies started entrenching themselves.

The trenches they constructed are sometimes only a few meters apart. A visit to the Mémorial du Linge shows you the barbed wire-fortified front line between both trench complexes and takes you through the heavily fortified trenches on the German side, equipped with concrete bunkers.

Trench system

What remains of those trench systems today is only a fraction of the front line in the First World Wars. The two armies stood nose to nose here over more than 2 kilometers.

Sand quarry

You will also find traces of the front here and there on the wooded ridges of the Schratzmaennele, including a former quarry whose sandstones were used to construct the Münster Cathedral.

German troops took shelter in this former quarry, Petit Carrière du Schratz. The walls still show traces of bullet and grenade impacts.

Above it is a German machine gun post entrenched to defend the position against the French.

Concrete relics

Elsewhere, you will also pass concrete relics and underground tunnels and recognize trenches in the landscape.

Thousands of war victims

The Baehrenstall cemetery, established in 1930, contains the burials of some 2,438 German war victims. 3,538 soldiers were laid to rest at the French cemetery of Wettstein.

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