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The German Fortress of Metz 1870-1944 Paperback – September 23, 2008

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Product Details

  • Series: Fortress (Book 78)
  • Paperback: 64 pages
  • Publisher: Osprey Publishing; First Edition edition (September 23, 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1846033020
  • ISBN-13: 978-1846033025
  • Product Dimensions: 7.2 x 0.2 x 9.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 7.8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (6 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,478,154 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews


"This book is a most welcome addition to the Fortress series... I found the subject, and the book, fascinating, and highly recommend the book." -Bolling Smith, Coast Defense Journal (November 2008)

"... an excellent concise reference covering the German forts
of Metz... This will be one of the books in the series you will certainly want to include in your collection." -J.E. Kauffman (October 2008)

"... As in all books in the series, the condition of extant works and one's ability to currently access them is provided. All of this is additionally enhanced by period photos, images of the extant sites and the superb art work of Brian Delf. The book will be especially useful to the modeler who likes to do dioramas as there are a nearly unlimited number of possibilities shown in these pages." -Scott Van Aken, (October 2008)

About the Author

Clayton Donnell has had a life-long fascination with the Brialmont forts built at Liège and Namur. He spent his early years living in Belgium, and often visited the sites of the forts. Over the years he has amassed a large collection of material relating to this period, and has translated much of it from French to English. He has previously co-written Modern European Military Fortifications, 1870-1950: A Selected Annotated Bibliography (Praeger, 2004), and has created websites on the forts of Liège and Namur, and the Maginot Line. This is his first book for Osprey Publishing. The author lives in Southampton, PA.

Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

11 of 12 people found the following review helpful By R. A Forczyk VINE VOICE on September 23, 2008
Format: Paperback
Osprey's 78th volume in the Fortress series, The German Fortress of Metz 1870-1944, examines one of the most heavily fortified areas in Western Europe. The area around Metz and the Moselle River crossing sites had been fortified since ancient times, but it was after it was taken over by Germany after the Franco-Prussian War that the Metz fortifications were raised to a world-class level. Anticipating a French war of revenge to regain their lost provinces of Alsace-Lorraine, the Germans spent over thirty years building an entirely new type of fortified system around Metz, consisting of underground bunkers and mutually-supporting gun turrets. Amazingly after all this effort, the Metz fortified area was not attacked during the First World War but in the Second World War, it lay straight in the path of General Patton's army advancing toward the Saar. However instead of a quick win, Patton's army had to spend several months reducing the tough Metz defenses. This volume covers the seventy-year development of this impressive system of fortifications, with the emphasis being upon their role in the Second World War. For anyone wishing to get a full understanding of the American Lorraine campaign in 1944, this is an essential work.

The author begins discussing the development of the Metz fortifications in the 1870s, which were greatly influenced by technological advances in artillery and explosives. In just a few years, it was obvious that the old type of fortifications - dependent primarily upon thick walls for their defense - had become obsolete. Instead, the Germans began experimenting in the captured Metz fortified zone with new concepts that emphasized dispersion over concentration, underground defenses and turrets that would not be vulnerable to overhead shrapnel bursts.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Dave Schranck on October 24, 2009
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Clayton Donnell is an expert on European castles and forts, having studied and profiled many of them as well as written a number of books. He's done a fine job covering the Metz System in this volume.
The coverage begins at the time of the Franco-Prussian War of 1870-71 when the French were defeated and Germany annexed the Lorraine territory, gaining control of Metz. For the next 45+ years until the end of WWI, Germany expanded and strengthen the fortress system. It was Germany's version of the Maginot line.
After WWI, Metz was little used until the last half of 1944 when the Allies pushed the Germans out of Normandy. Knowing that the Metz corridor was the easiest way to reach southern Germany, the Germans revived Metz the best they could to block Patton from reaching the West Wall. With the Ardennes Offensive already planned, it was essential to keep Patton busy to prevent him from sending aid to Hodges in the Ardennes. The last fortress in the chain held out until Dec 13th, just days before the offensive began. It was an extremely lucky break for the US 1st Army. If Patton hadn't been able to send a relief column north, I wonder how the "Bulge" would have turned out.

The majority of the book describes the layout of the fortresses, the equipment used and the living quarters. For having much of it built in the 18th century, the structures are impressive. The author devotes only 15 pages to WWI and WWII which is a tease for some of us but it does give the essentials of the wars. I believe the full potential of this book isn't as a stand alone but in conjunction with a full length book like Anthony Kemp's " The Unkonown Battle: Metz 1944".
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By cpt matt VINE VOICE on March 19, 2010
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Before artillery, if you wanted to keep the high ground, you built a castle. Once artillery was developed, castle walls were vulnerable. So, defenders went underground and buried the defensive works. The complexity of those designs is shown in this book to excellent effect.

3-D diagrams, color photos, maps, lots of B&W photos capture how intensive these fortifications were. When Germany took the areas of Alsace and Lorraine in 1870, they meant to keep them. Ironic that they did not see action at all in WW1. The French used many of the innovations of these forts in their design of the Maginot Line. And these 1870 forts created quite the embarrassment to Patton's Army in WW2 when it took 3 months to capture this area. The narrative is concise, informative and interesting.

I highly recommend this book to anyone interested in siege warfare, history of fortifications, defensive war and the slogging match around Metz in 1944. Static defenses don't always work, but they sure can exact a heavy price on the attacker, this book shows why.
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