The most important relics of the Second World War in the southern part of the Westhoek are just across the border in northern France, where there is a series of bunkers belonging to the Maginot Line. Seven of these bunkers are on the Zwarteberg hill (‘Mont Noir’ in French, 152 metres high) and one of them is open to the public. This bunker was built in 1938, which was much later than the original Maginot Line, which was constructed along the Franco-German border during the early part of the 1930s. However, in
1936 Belgium suspended its military agreement with France, which had previously allowed French troops to enter Belgian territory in the event of a German attack. This meant that the French urgently needed to extend their line of bunkers between Sedan and the North Sea. Viewed in retrospect, the bunkers achieved little. The rapid German ‘blitzkrieg’ (meaning ‘lighting war’) outflanked and surrounded the Allied armies at Calais and Dunkirk, so that the Maginot Line scarcely saw any fighting. A few days after the
capitulation of Belgium on 28 May 1940, Adolf Hitler made his first visit to our region, where he had been a soldier during the First World War. Wijtschate and Mount Kemmel were among the places he visited.
Adres: Route du Mont Noir, Sint-Jans-Cappel (FR)