Rue André Maginot, 57410 Siersthal.
3 km from Bitche.
MAR to DEC Tue-Sun 10, 10:30, 14, 14:30.
Adults EUR 10, Children (6-13) EUR 8, Children (0-5) free, Students EUR 9, Unemployed EUR 9, Veterans EUR 9, Families (2+3) EUR 35.
Groups (10+): Adults EUR 9, School Pupils EUR 8.
|World War II Bunker Ligne Maginot
|Incandescent Electric Light System
|Ouvrage du Simserhof, Rue André Maginot, Le Légeret, 57410 Siersthal, Tel: +33-387-96-39-40. E-mail:
|As far as we know this information was accurate when it was published (see years in brackets), but may have changed since then.
Please check rates and details directly with the companies in question if you need more recent info.
|planning of the fort and begin of construction.
|battle of Simserhof.
|delivered to the Germans after the conditions of the Armistice.
|used as resistance against allied troops by the Germans.
|fort is indefensible and abandoned by the Germans.
|opened to the public.
|Owned by the Pays de Bitche Community of Communes.
The Ouvrage Simserhof, located in the corner of Lorraine bordering Germany was a part of the huge defense line, the Maginot Line. Actually it was the single most important artillery fort of the line. It is a gros ouvrage, a large artillery work, and it is flanked by the petit ouvrage Rohrbach and the gros ouvrage Schiesseck. It was named after its location, the adjacent farm actually has a German name, the owner named Simser and "hof" is German for farm. Actually the whole area is part of the Alsace and actually German speaking. Again, the single most important artillery fort of the Maginot Line has a German name.
The visit starts with a 15-minute film covering the period between 1918 and 1940. Then the visitors take a seat on a small train called le Ride, which is fully automated and has a sound system for explanations in French, English, and German. The bunker is entered through the munitions entrance, defended by antitank guns, machine guns and bren guns.
There is also a walking tour showing the quarters and the power plant. Highlights are the battery of filters which cleaned the air in case of an attack with gas. One of the four diesel engines in the power plant which provided electricity for light, hoist, material railroad and the tower are still working.
This fort was planned by Colonel Frossard. The first concept was five closely spaced blocks fronted by an anti-tank ditch, but it was rejected in July 1929 by the Commission d'Organisation des Régions Fortifiées (CORF). This was the central planning agency for the Maginot Line, and they had some objections. The result was a second concept with two ouvrages 300 m apart, allowing mutual support. It was a better concept but also far more expensive, and further modifications raised the projected cost again. In the end, eight combat blocks were constructed between 1930 and 1933. At this point, the structure existed together with the central utility plant, ammunition lifts and the internal railway. It took until 1938 to complete the anti-tank obstacles.
The combat section and support section were separated by more than a kilometer distance. They were connected with a 60 cm gauge electric railway. The tunnel for the railroad was 27 m below ground.
During the war, the ouvrage was manned by 28 officers and 792 men under the command of the French 5th Army. First garrisoned in March 1936 while still incomplete, it was reinforced after the Munich Agreement in September 1938 and again in March 1939. On 21-AUG-1939 the Maginot Line was brought to a state of readiness for war. This part of the war is called the Phoney War, as actually nothing happened. The Battle of France started in MAY-1940, but the Germans avoided the Maginot Line and instead invaded France through the Netherlands. The troops started to withdraw, to help in the hinterland, but they were already enclosed by the German army, and so they prepared fo a siege. On 30 June Simserhof formally surrendered without any fighting.
The actual fighting went on in 1944. The U.S. Seventh Army under General Alexander Patch pursued the Germans. Simserhof was occupied by the German 25th Panzer Grenadier Division, and on 14-DEC-1044 the 71st Infantry Regiment of the U.S. 44th Infantry Division assaulted Simserhof. The fortress and surrounding casemates were captured after six days of fighting. The German counter-offensive Operation Nordwind caused the occupiers to leave the fort, but it was re-occupied on 15 March without resistance from the Germans.
Unlike most other Maginot Line fortifications, this fort was maintained as a preparation for conventional war against the Soviets. It was never a nuclear shelter, but in case of an invasion with tanks, it would have defended France again. For this reason, funds were allocated for restoration of the gros ouvrages, which was completed in 1953. But when France developed its own nuclear weapons, the money was used for the nuclear warfare instead.
Simserhof was the property of the French Ministry of Defense until 2012, when it was taken over by the Pays de Bitche Community of Communes. The museums are managed by the Moselle département and the city of Bitche. Unfortunately, they have some problems publishing their open hours, as far as we understand, they are open from February to December and from Tuesday to Sunday, but with changing tour times. We guess there are four tours on days with many visitors and only one or two tours on low season days. The consequence is, that we strongly recommend to reserve by phone or email. Also, english tours are available only after reservation.