Page 6, 24th November 1939

24th November 1939
Page 6
Page 6, 24th November 1939 — I Have Seen the Siegfried Line
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Page 6 from 24th November 1939

I Have Seen the Siegfried Line

valleys of the Sure and the Our are particularly good observation lines, as the roads keep close to the river and the German fortifications are being built right beyond the water. There is a little road—not ordinarily used by motor cars—between Reisdorf and Vianden where one has astonishing sights of the feverish building activity beyond the frontier of the Third Reich.

It was not always easy to conduct our journalistic inquiries. At the start we were almost arrested in the Sure valley by the gendarmes of the GrandDuchy. We were brought to the gendarmerie post in Echternach and were only released on showing our credentials.

The Luxemburg authorities want to prey'-. ' any espionage activity on their territory in favour of either side. They are polite to journalists but want to make sure that there are no misuses which might involve the absolute neutrality of the little country.

We were told particularly to observe the utmost discretion in the use of the camera.

On the Front

Our first attempt to get to " Three Countries Corner " at Schengen was stopped by the gendarmes between Mondorf-les-Bains and Elvange. Not even the American flag on our car and the United States passports of my colleague e opened that barrier, which only inhabitants of the frontier villages are allowed to pass. We were told that we had to see Captain Stein, the head of the Luxemburg gendarmerie, from whom we had to obtain a special permit to go to Schengen.

We also heard that the MondoriRemich road was the nearest route to " Three Countries' Corner "—a way which could be taken without a special permit. So we turned north-east towards Remich (which is situated on the Moselle)—and did not regret it.

When we were driving through Mondorf—famous for its mineral waters and its bathing establishments—we notices) that the artillery fire was becoming: more intense. The road went slowly up-hill, and a few miles before there Ives practically Lothing to see in the Moselle valley itself.

We heard later that all the fighting had been in the hills and that even at it time when the French troops advanced as far as seven or eight miles towards the hills they did not attempt to occupy the low country near the river. The German frontier village of Perl was several times occupied by the French but was always evacuates again before the night began.

There were some German trenches near the Moselle but they are now all filled with water.

We saw a number of aeroplanes without being able to find out whether they were French or British and heard the firing of the German anti-aircraft batteries.

While we drove down to the romantic little town of Remich we saw the peasants picking the grapes.

" Three Countries' Corner "

The next morning we obtained our permit and were able to go to Schengen.

It was a fine. sunny autumn day. Everywhere people were busy in the vineyards when we drove down from Emerange to Schengen. The American flag on our car aroused curiosity.

After the German defeat. in 1918 the Grand Duchy had indeed been occupied by American troops for some time, and a Luxemburg weekly paper has recently published pictures showing a parade of American troops in Luxemburg before the Grand-Ducal palace. The late Grand Duchess Marie Adele ide; Princess Charlotte (who has since become Grand Duchess) and General Pershing were standing on the balcony. The Americans, in the long history of Luxemburg, were the only occupation armies went astray. A considerable number of windows were broken when the bridge between Schengen and Perl was blown up by the Germans.

We stopped at the entrance of that bridge. The Luxemburg end is still standing while the rest is in the water. The entrance is filled with two or three hundred sandbags, and a soldier in the khaki uniform of the Luxemburg " Company of Volunteers" and a blueclad gendarme are watching what remains of the customs offices.

No Tanks Now

One hundred feet away, just beyond the Moselle, there is the Front. Nobody is to be seen there. The village is No Man's Land and is visited by patrols from both sides—but at night only. There are batteries and machine gun nests on the hills, and a loquacious villager shows us a declivitous meadow over which the French tanks made their first advance into enemy country. But no tank is to be seen now. . . .

We made a third visit to the country near " Three Countries' Corner." We had heard about the artillery duels which were very frequent during the nights, so we went to the Scheuerberg after 8.30 p.m. On the Mondorf-Remich road we had to drive without lights. We heard a detonation here and there in Ft rather far-away distance and saw ono* in a while coloured light balls being shot into the sky. But besides that. there was nothing to be seen.

It was raining, and there was almost complete darkness. We waited a couple of hours and were wondering whether something would happen when suddenly somebody knocked at our car, and a gendarme told us in French that it was forbidden to park there.

So we had to go on to Remich and from there back to Luxemburg City....




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