Tuesday, June 14, 2005

The entrance of the men On this day we had a lot of rain, whereas the day before we had a lot of sun. It started raining at 8.30 am and it didnít stop until 7 pm. We went to one of the bigger museums of the Maginot line. Because of the size of this bunker they split it up in two parts. So we could choose to visit one part or both. In the future there is a third part coming up. This third part will visit the casemates outside. Both parts that were ready now brought us only in the big main bunker. The first part consists of a movie and a tour by train. We could choose between three different languages: French, Deutsch or English. The last 25 % of the English tour wasnít translated yet and would be spoken in French. Our French is really bad so we choose Deutsch.
The next movie would be in French so we had to wait for half an hour. In the meantime we looked around in the gift shop. They had a lot of books about the Siegfried line in Germany. Unfortunately, most of the books were written in French. We bought a book about the Simserhof and we had to choose a book written in Deutsch, but it wasnít in French. It is a clear book with a lot of pictures so we could deal with that.
The tour was interesting. We didnít think about the temperature inside the bunker, but it was built in the ground and like caves the temperature was only about 10įC. We should have brought warmer clothes.
Between the first and the second part we were unfreezing in the hall when an American spoke to Marc because of his jacket. The father and uncle of that man had fought in the war. Then a British man joined the group and we were talking about the war sites that we had visited elsewhere.
Artillery next to the entrance In the meantime the woman of the museum asked us if it was a problem to do the second part in English. Well, as long as it isnít French it is no problem for us. Later we found out that this question was because of the only other visitor, the British man that joined our group. If we had insisted on Deutsch, he had to wait another hour. He speaks Deutsch like we speak French. For the first part he did the French tour that was doable for him.
The second part took 1 Ĺ hours by foot through another part of the bunker from the Simserhof. This time we were with the really big group of three persons. We did the first part with a group of four. We like the more personal tours much better. The tour was lead by a student who wants to speak better English. Like all the French people she had a big French accent but everything became clear to us.
This second part gave us more detailed information about the first part. In the first tour we saw the munitions part and we got information about the function of and the building of the Simserhof. In the second part we learned how they had to live in the Simserhof.
After this interesting tour we drank tea together to get warm again.

The Americans started the attack on the Simserhof on December 13, 1944. The Germans had conquered this bunker undamaged in 1940 and then used it for their own defense. The first two days the terrain was re-conquered again and again by the two parties. Then, the Americans started to use heavy artillery. This damaged only the outside of the 3 Ĺ meter thick walls, but they were able to eliminate a few loop-holes. The turrets were blown up with TNT. On December 19 the Germans escaped by an emergency exit.
The Americans had to leave the Simserhof for the Battle of the Bulge and when they came back the Germans were back in the bunker. The Simserhof wasnít able to defend anymore and on March 16 the Americans took it back again.

Installation to filter oxigen Passage with railway for the train Engine Original diesel engine
The train The canteen The canteen The dentist chair
Sleeping room Sleeping room The stove in the kitchen The pantry
Pressure cookers The butcher's place