PIERRE's PHOTO IMPRESSIONS of the WESTERN FRONT
1914-1918
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              Pierre Grande Guerre
              shows his
              photo impressions
              of his trips along
              the Western Front
              with his selfmade photo's,
              historic pictures,
              and maps.
              Few words,
              many pictures,
              and many links.
               
              Pierre
               
               
              Warning: Sometimes on the battlefield
              you will still find relics of explosives.
              All these shells, hand grenades, and
              mortar rounds can even nowadays still
              be very dangerous.
              Some of the artillery bombs may contain
              poison gas, which can cause severe
              blistering or worse injuries.
              In France it is by law forbidden to
              remove relics from the battlefield.
              So, it is for your own safety:
              take a picture of the steel harvest,
              but leave these relics untouched!
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              Pierre is a Dutch member
              of the Canadian
              Central Ontario Branch
              of the Western Front
              Association,
              In 2015 awarded with
              a lifetime membership!
               
              And a member of:
               
               
              The Western Front
              Association Nederland
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              of the First World War?
               
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              Read also:
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              Pierre is the author
              of the Dutch book,  
              "De Rode Duivels in de
              Vogezen - 1914-1915 -
              Een geïllustreerde
              reconstructie van de
              krijgsverrichtingen
              van het 152e
              Régiment d'Infanterie" 
               
               
               
              Klik  voor de details
              Prijs: € 15,- pdf-versie
              ------------------------------
              -------------------------------------------
              LINKS TO THE SPECIAL

              PHOTO IMPRESSIONS

              NEW!

              Pierre's Illustrated

              WFA-NL Lecture 

              'UNCLE HANSI" - (Dutch)

              Pierre's Illustrated

              Lecture "Verdun 1916" - (Dutch)

              Pierre's illustrated

              WFA-NL lectures:

              The Tactical Significance 

               of General Gaede - (Bilingual)

              The Difficult Start

              of the L.I.R. 123 - (Eng)

              De Moeizame Start van

              het L.I.R. 123 - (Dutch)

              De Rode Duivels

              op de Hartmannswillerkopf (Dutch)

              De Blauwe Duivels

              in de Vogezen (Dutch)

              Botchkareva en haar

              Vrouwenbataljon (Dutch)

              Mata Hari -

              Het Spionagedossier (Dutch)

              More Special

              Photo Impressions

              of the Western Front (English) 

              Armistice Clearing Compiègne

              Kaiser's Exile Huis Doorn

              Cambrai

              Fort de Mutzig - Feste Kaiser Wilhelm II

              Colmar and Hansi, the Illustrator 

              The Red Baron's Crash Site

              Canadian National Vimy Memorial

              SOMME 1918 The Australians

              Fricourt Archeological Excavations

              Traces of Bairnsfather  - Xmas Truce

              Yorkshire Trench and Dugout

              Bayernwald Trenches Inside 

              LINKS TO ALL
              BATTLEFIELD
              PHOTO IMPRESSIONS
              in the CORRECT SEQUENCE

              AISNE 

              Chemin des Dames part 1 

              Chemin des Dames part 2 - Dragon's Cave

              Chemin des Dames part 3     

              ALSACE LORRAINE

              The Gap of Charmes - La Trouée de C.

              Avricourt - Leintrey - Reillon - Montreux - Parux 

              Montreux German Front Walk

              The Battle of Morhange - 1914

              French Bunkers - Mnt. Grand Couronné 

              South of Metz - German Bunkers -

              Feste Wagner 

              ALSACE VOSGES NORTH

              Tête du Violu - Bernhardstein

              Chaume de Lusse - Haute de Faîte

              Bertrimoutier - Frapelle  

              Ban de Sapt - La Fontenelle

              Senones - la Roche Mère Henry

              Col de la Chipotte - de la Chapelotte

              The Donon - Bunkers - Dug-outs

              ALSACE VOSGES  

              Col du Bonhomme Col de Mandray

              Tête de Faux - Buchenkopf 

              Col du Wettstein - Schratzmännele

              Lingekopf - le Linge  

              Kleinkopf - Barrenkopf 

              Hohrodberg-Giragoutte-Trois Epis  

              Reichackerkopf  

              Munster Valley Petit Ballon  

              Le Tanet - Bichtstein - Villa Sidi-Brahim

              Route des Crêtes - Hohneck -

              Gr. Ballon - Sudelkopf 

              Hartmannswillerkopf - Vieil Armand  

              Guebwiller - Rimbach - Hirzstein  

              Moosch Nécropole Nationale  

              ALSACE SUNDGAU  

              Zillisheim Illfurth Largitzen Pfetterhouse 

              Burnhaupt-le-Bas Bunker Path     

              ARGONNE

              Mort Homme Côte 304

              Montfaucon- Romagne s/s Montfaucon

              Butte de Vauquois

              Haute Chevauchée

              The Bunker of the German Crownprince

              ARTOIS

              Illies - Wicres    

              Neuve Chapelle - Richebourg

              Aubers - 1915 

              Fromelles - 1916  

              Neuville-St. Vaast - Souchez

              Notre Dame de Lorette 

              Loos

              Arras Wellington Quarry

              Vimy Ridge

              Lichfield Crater

              CHAMPAGNE

              St. Hilaire le Grand Russian Cmty  Mont Navarin

              Sommepy Mont de Blanc Mont

              La Main des Massiges

              MARNE 

              Verberie Néry Villers Cotterêts  

              First Battle of the Marne   

              Belleau Wood - Château Thierry  

              Second Battle of the Marne

              SAINT MIHIEL

              Les Eparges Ridge

              Calonne Trenches Tranchée

              Fort de Troyon

              Apremont Forest Trenches

              Butte de Montsec

              Rémenauville Destroyed Village

              le Bois le Prêtre / das Priesterwald 

              SOMME British Sector

              SOMME INTRODUCTION

              Auchonvillers Trench

              Mine Craters Lochnagar Hawthorn

              Thiepval Memorial Mouquet Farm  

              Thiepval Wood - Ulster Tower

              Ovillers La Boiselle

              Hawthorn Ridge Beaumont Hamel

              Redan Ridge 

              Newfoundland Memorial Park  

              Serre Hébuterne 

              Sheffield Memorial Park Serre

              Gommecourt 

              Fricourt Deutsche Kriegsgräberstatte 

              Contalmaison 

              Mametz Wood 

              Trones Wood Montauban Guillemont

              Caterpillar Valley Longueval 

              High Wood Longueval

              Delville Wood Longueval

              Pozières  

              Martinpuich

              le Sars Butte de Warlencourt

              Flers Gueudecourt

              Adanac Canadian Cmty. Mireaumont

              SOMME French Sector 

              Bouchavesnes

              Rancourt Cimetière National

              Rancourt Deutscher Soldatenfriedhof

              Dompierre - Becquincourt Fay Soyécourt

              Flaucourt Biaches

              VERDUN

              VERDUN Citadel 

              Thiaumont - PC 118 & 119 - A 320

              Road To Fort Douaumont       

              Fort de Douaumont

              Douaumont Nécropole Nationale  

              Côte Froideterre - Les 4 Chéminées 

              Fort de Souville 

              Fort de Vaux 

              Tunnel de Tavannes Fort

              La Voie Sacrée

              Bois des Caures - Col. Driant's C.P. 

              Flabas German Reprisals Camp

              The German Camp Marguerre 

              Duzey German 380mm Artillery Base

              Destroyed Villages Bezonvaux - Ornes

              Azannes - Damvillers - La Grande Montagne 

              YPRES

              Menin Road Railway Wood

              Maple Copse - Hill 62 - Hooge

              Clapham Junction Zandvoorde Bunker

              Polygon Wood Zonnebeke

              Hill 60 - Hollebeke -

              St. Elooi - Lankhof Farm

              Messines Ridge

              Pilkem Ridge

              Boezinge Essex Farm Ziegler Bunker

              Langemark Poelkapelle St. Juliaan

              Passchendaele Ridge

              Mount Kemmel Lettenberg Bunkers

              Ploegsteert Wood

              YZER

              Nieuport Ramskapelle

              Pervijze  Stuijvekenskerke

              Diksmuide Trench of Death 

              Leke Vladslo Houthulst

              OTHER GREAT WAR LINKS

              Pierre's Nederlandstalige
              artikelen en columns
              over de Grote Oorlog
               
              (Copy & Paste de titel in de
              zoekmachine!) 
               
              Bochkareva en haar Vrouwenbataljon
              Bretonse Bécassine tijdens de Oorlog
              De Vanceboro Bridge Bomaanslag
              Beneath Hill 60
              Tijdreizen Op Internet
              Leutnant Von Forstner Koopt Chocolade
              Duitslands Oudste Oorlogsvrijwilliger
              Marcel's Bajonet
              Souvenir de Bezonvaux
              Namibië-Etnische Zuivering-1904-1908
              Het Beleg van Fort de Vaux
              Explosiecatastrofe In Fort Douaumont 
              Franse Aas der Azen: René Fonck
              Chasseurs Alpins, Franse Alpenjagers
              Prowse Point Cemetery
              Hoe Sgt. Kunze Fort Douaumont
                 veroverde op 25-02-1916.
              Frank Hurley: Fotoshoppen In 1917
              De Kaiserschlacht,
                 een beknopte samenvatting.
              Herdenking Op Douaumont 2008
              Wapenstilstand 1918 -90 Jaar Geleden
              Vijfde Lustrum WFA Nederland,
                 11-10-2008.
              Geur van Drukinkt
              De Vallei van Munster
              Der Rote Baron Versus Flyboys 
              De Fantomen van Landowski
              Louise de Bettignies -
                 Queen of English Spies
              Monument Op Vimy Ridge
              De Erewacht van
                 Notre Dame de Lorette
              Tank Tegen Tank 90 Jaar Terug
              Von Richthofen's Laatste Noodlanding
              Generaal Von Lettow Vorbeck
              Grafschennis Notre Dame de Lorette
              Google Earth 
              De Kaiserschlacht 90 Jaar Geleden 
              De Wolfsberg - le Hamel
              Overleden Veteranen
              Franse Sector Aan De Somme
              Kerstbestand 1914
              Raadselachtig Graf
              Caporetto; Kiem Van Fascisme
              Lenin's Treinreis
              Tsjechen Aan Het Westelijk Front
              Mata Hari
              325 Miljoen Voor 12 Zeppelins
              Slagvelden Van de Somme
              Schroot
              Op de Lingekopf
              Weinig Duitse Monumenten
                  Somme
              Soldaten Standbeelden
              Mosterdgas 1917
              Schwaben Redoubt
              Oogst Van Roest
              Mortier
              De Tekenaar Hansi
              Gifgas Bij Vancouver Corner
              Nationaliteit Kwijt?
              Beloond Geduld
              Prins Harry Naar Irak
              Thiepval
              De Arm Van De Kaiser
              Artilleriebunkers Nabij Duzey
              Kamp Flabas
              Eerherstel voor "Deserteurs"
              Vredig plekje?
              Moslimmonument in Verdun 
              Bayernwald
              De Slag aan de Somme
              De Tunnel van Tavannes
              Kapitein Joost van Vollenhoven
              Huis Doorn
              Update
                 “Raadselachtig Ansichtkaartje II
              Raadselachtig Ansichtkaartje I 

               

               












              Hartmannswillerkopf - Vieil Armand
              Alsace Vosges:
               
              Hartmannswillerkopf -
               
              Vieil Armand
               
              Trenches & Bunkers
               
              years of visit: 2004 - 2007 - 2010 - 2014.  
              Le Vieil Armand or the Hartmannswillerkopf, an important mountain, which controls the Rhine Valley. We make a walking tour from the Crypt at the Col du Silberloch, downwards to the French lines, then upwards to the Sermet peak and the summit of le Vieil Armand (956m.), crossing the narrow Noman’s Land into the German Lines, and the concrete fortifications around the Aussichtsfelsen, then again downwards to the trenches of the 2nd French line on the southern slope.
               
              From the Col Amic we could already spot the Crucifix
              on the summit of the Hartmannswillerkopf - Vieil Armand.
               
               
              Along the "Route des Crêtes", the D 431, we stop at
              the Col du Silberloch, at the French National Cemetery
              of le Vieil Armand and it's Crypt. 
               
               
              Recently the Crypt has been renovated awaiting the visit of the Presidents of Germany (Gauck) and France (Hollande) for the official Centenary commemorations of 3 August 2014.
               
               
              During our visit on 5 June 2014 the interior of the Crypt was still closed for the public due to this restoration works.
               
               
              The top construction of the Crypt.
               
               
               
              A view from the flagpole in the centre of the cemetery,
              in the direction of the nowadays wooded slopes of
              the Vieil Armand or the Hartmannswillerkopf.
               
               
              Nowadays the Crypt and the cemetery are located on the spot of the former
              French military camp on the Col du Silberloch with the period name
              of "Camp Scheurer". On the right, southern, side of
              the Crypt stands a memorial for the Camp and for Pierre Scheurer.
               
               
              "In memory of Pierre Scheurer, born at Thann in 1887, Second Lieutenant
              of the 152e Infantry Regiment, mortally wounded on this location
              on 26 April 1915" , and who died two days later.
               
               
              (Dutch readers: for more info, read my book,  “De Rode Duivels in de Vogezen 1914-1915 – Een geïllustreerde reconstructie van de krijgsverrichtingen van het 152e Régiment d’Infanterie”.)
               
               
              Some images of the Cemetery.
               
               
               
              Down the foot of the Col du Silberloch and the cemetery,
              you can enter the woods of the Hartmannswillerkopf,...
               
               
              ... and climb the difficult paths upwards to the summit.
               
              © Some period photographs and these maps: Courtesy of "Verlag Les Amis du Hartmannsweilerkopf Deutschland" and Hans Peter Tombi, http://www.hartmannsweilerkopf.de .
               
              Before we enter the former French trenches of 1915-1918,
              some concise information about what has happened
              on this mountain:
               
               
              In December 1914 the French 28me Bataillon Chasseurs Alpins took possession of the Silberloch Plateau after having spotted German Infantry troops of the 69th I.R. at the summit. On 30 December 1914 there were heavy fights on the summit for the eastern rock of the Aussichtsfelsen. For both parties the possession of the summit was of extreme importance. The party who could get control over the mountain, controlled also the road from the “Crêtes", the summits of the Vosges, to the Rhine Valley and the valley itself.
               
               
              From January until April 1915 the French under General Serret with his special mountain troops of the Chasseurs Alpins and infantry regiments tried to capture the summit several times. They captured the western slope of the mountain and a stroke of land at the summit on 26 March 1915.
               
               
              But on 1 april 1915 the German 14th Jägerbataillon knew to consolidate their position on the summit in the former lost French 1st line trench. They renamed it the “Johann Albrecht Graben”, and the Germans would keep this position until 1918.  In September and October 1915 the Germans, who only controlled ¾ of the summit, would try to capturethe total summit again with use of flamethrowers and toxic gas.

               
               
              1915. The Christmas Battles.
               
               
              On 21 December 1915 the 152e R.I. on their turn succeeded  to capture the fortifications of the second German line on the Aussichtsfelsen with use of flamethrowers. During this battle even the French General Serret was severely wounded on the 29th, to die later, on 6 January 1916, of the consequences of his injuries at the Moosch Military Hospital.
               
               
              During these “Weinachtskämpfen” (Christmas battles) the French successes lasted only for one day. Only the next day they were at their turn chased down the rock by the Germans. With the German conquest of the nearby Hirzstein on 8 January 1916, the big battles on the Hartmannswillerkopf petered out. Only in September 1916 the French did make two attempts to reconquer the summit without succes.
               
               
              Patrols, artillery attacks, also with mortars and “Lufttorpedo’s”, attacks from German special forces, French fierce hand grenade attacks, and hand to hand fighting would still go on around the summit until 1918. From the end of January 1916 the frontline would not change much from the situation until 1918. The French lines on the west side of the mountain until the Sermet peak were only conquered by the French in March 1915. Most German concrete bunkers and fortifications on the east side of the mountain were buildings from April 1915 until 1918. Let us go for a climb through the German French lines to the Sermet Peak.
               

               
              As we make our way through the vegetation of
              the former German "Eierstellung" until March 1915,
              we already spot some shellholes and barbed wire poles.
               
               
              We tried to find our way through zigzagging
              German / French trenches to Sermet Peak.
               
               
              Sermet Peak is on the northern slope of le Vieil Armand
              at a height of 910 m.
               

               
               
               
              We climbed this rough staircase to study the observation post.
               
               
              The position of the Sermet peak gives a panoramic view
              at the Col Amic and the Grand Ballon.
               
               
               
              A French shelter bunker and observationpost, ... 

               
               
              ... partly cut out in the rock.
               
               
              The panorama at the Grand Ballon again
              of this strategic French line position.
               
               
              We could have gone from this bunker more easily...
               
               
              ... and directly upward to the highest point of Sermet.
               
               
              But I preferred to go back downwards first,
              and follow another trench to the highest point of the Sermet, ...
               

              ... almost in the traces of General Serret's
              28me. Bataillon Chasseurs Alpins, ...
               
               
              ... and his 152nd Infantry Regiment during
              the days of March 1915.
               
               
               
              A view from this machine gun post northeast;
              you could hardly call it a bunker or shelter.
               
               
               
              These trenches would stay in French possession until 1918.
               
               
              At Sermet Peak is a crossing of trenches,
              coming from below and leading more upward to the Summit.
               
               
               
              Half way above Sermet Peak...
               
               
              ... we follow the trench upward to find
              this typical French fore post bunker, ...
               
               
              ... made of natural materials; mostly wooden beams,
              mountain rock's, and some steel U Bars.
               
               
              "The 2nd Company of the 152nd Infantry Regiment" of
              the French Army builded this trench and bunker in April 1915.
               
               
               
               
              We still climb upwards passing this shelter, ...
               
               
              ... again of natural materials, stone and wood,
              and some iron corrugated boards and steel U bars.
               
               
              A machine gun post opposite a lower lying (invisible)
              German sap with relics of the barbed wire obstacles.
               
               
              Just before we enter the open spot on the summit
              with the 29 m. high Crucifix, standing in the centre of
              the former, rather narrow No Man's land on
              the 956 m. high summit.
               
               
              A 1920's postcard of this spot.
               
               
              We are standing right next to the cross
              in the last French first line, opposite the Johann Albrechtgraben,
              and the Dortmundergraben.
               
               
              This vandalised after war demarcation stone faces
              over the western slope.
               
               
              The 1st French Frontline trench, opposite the Dortmundergraben.
               
               
              Facing the Johann Albrechtgraben, and the Dortmundergraben,
              a French steel observation post.
               
               
              Christine walking in the French 1st Front line,
              with saps of rocks on both sides.
               
               
              A view standing in the trenches.
               
               
              One of the many saps.
               
               
              A small shelter.
               
               
              A French trench at le Vieil Armand, November 1917.
               
               
              The trench bends eastward, ...
               
               
              ... ziggzagging,...
               
               
              as we were passing some sniper holes ...
               
               
              ... to the end of the trench, so near the Cross,
              marking the No Man's Land ...
               
               
              ... to this most forward French machine-gun post.
               
               
              This monument stands in No Man's Land just in front of
              this trench, and in front of the German Dortmundergraben,
              commemorating the most advanced point of
              the French 28me. Bataillon Chasseurs in January 1915:
               
              "HERE WAS SITUATED THE ADVANCED POST OF
              THE 28TH BATTALION OF MOUNTAIN TROOPS
              THROWN INTO BATTLE FOR THIS SUMMIT IN JANUARY 1915.

              LES DIABLES BLEUS-  LES AMIS DU HWK- LE SOUVENIR DE FRANCE"
               
              Chasseurs Alpins in action.
               
               
              Some 10 m. further to the south also in No Man's Land
              a plaque, commemorating the 3 assaults of March 1915
              by the French 152nd Regiment:
               
              "IN 1915 THE 152ND INFANTRY REGIMENT HAS ATTACKED THREE TIMES AND CONQUERED THIS MOUNTAIN AT THE PRICE OF ENORMOUS SACRIFICES.
              ON 23 MARCH THE 6TH COMPANY LAUNCHED A PARTICULARLY VALUABLE ASSAULT FOR WHICH THEY ARE DECORATED WITH A CITATION  IN THE ORDER OF THE ARMY AND IT'S BANNER DECORATED WITH THE CROIX DE GUERRE."
               
              A view of the same machine gun bunker
              in the 1st  French line over No Man's land, ...
               
               
              ...seen from the opposite position of
              this German 1915 "Dora Feste" fortification.
               
               
              Next we cross over the former No Man's land
              to the German lines.
               
               
              © Some period photographs and these maps: Courtesy of "Verlag Les Amis du Hartmannsweilerkopf Deutschland" and Hans Peter Tombi, http://www.hartmannsweilerkopf.de 
               
              We cross the No Man's Land to the German Johann Albrechtgraben, the former most extreme French line,
              which the Germans conquered on the French on 1 April 1915.
               
               
               
              Most of the German army units, deployed on the Hartmannswillerkop (HWK), were “Jäger-Bataillonen” and “Gardeschützen-Bataillonen” from several “Reichsländer”, not only from Berlin and Potsdam, but also from Alsacian towns like Schlettstadt (nowadays “Sélestat”) and Kolmar ( nowadays “Colmar”).
              Some of these units were deployed several times at the HWK.
               
              For instance, the Mecklenburger Jäger-Bataillon nr. 14 was fighting for the summit in the winter of 1914-1915. On 1 April 1915 this Jäger-Bataillon, under Major Freiherr Schenk zu Schweinsberg, drove the French from their 1st line trench, the later called Johann Albrechtgraben.
              This Jäger-Bataillon nr. 14 fought the French down from the summit at 9 September 1915. During the “Weinachtskämpfen” (Christmas Battle) of 21 December 1915, the French annihilated this Battalion of their Commander in Honour, Grossherzog Johann Albrecht von Mecklenburg, on the Aussichtsfelsen (“Panorama Rock”).
              Only the Major and 80 of his soldiers survived. The next day, on the 22nd, the Reserve Jäger Battailon nr. 8, and the 80 man of Schenk zu Schweinsberg re-conquered the Aussichtsfelsen and drove the French back to their lines down the western slope.
              Some of the trenches, fortifications, and bunkers, are named after German officers and commanders fighting at the HWK. 
               
               
              Dinastollen or Dina cave entrance,
              on the connection of the Johann Albrechtgraben
              and the Dortmundergraben.
               
               
              Like Feste Dora (below) it was the entrance to a large underground tunnel system.
              (Watch the light blue lines on the maps!)
               
               
              The entrance left in Feste Dora leads to the caves beneath it.
               
               
              The entrance to the Dora Feste Bunker,...
               
               
              ... a combination of an observation post
              and a machine gun bunker, facing the opposite 1st French line.
               
               
               
              The Kommandeur, Major Kachel, of the Reserve Jäger Battailon nr. 8 and the Kommandeur, Major Freiherr Heinrich von Hadeln, of the Gardenschützen Bataillon were mainly responsible for building this huge fortress on the summit and eastern slopes of the HWK.
              From April 1915 they started building and digging into the rock. Until 1918 they extended the fortress furthermore.
              Besides digging trenches, and building bunkers, fortifications ("Festen"), and observation posts, the Germans excavated a huge underground tunnel system, connecting “Stollen”, caves, which were sometimes also enlarged.
              In these caves were also telephone posts (the Germans even listened to the French telephone conversations!), and rooms for producing electricity for lights. The Germans built also a cable railway with 2 stations on the northern slope to import new building materials, ammunition, weapons, and food, from the valley below. For exchanging messages the Germans used beside telephones also mountain dogs.
              In No Man’s Land, and in between the trenches, there were vast barbed wire obstacles, also fortified with high voltage electrical wires, powered by aggregates in the “Machinenraum”- caves.
              Many of the bunkers gave a direct entrance to this tunnel system and caves.
              Remember that many times these extension constructions were made during battles.
               
              From Feste Dora we follow the Moritzgraben to ...
               
               
              ... the entrance of the Blindsack, a cave and tunnel system.
               
               
              I only entered it for a few meters.
               
               
              The observation post at the Blindsack is also
              the start of the Weinachtsgraben.
               
               
              A guard post bunker of the Weinachtsgraben.
               
               
              The Weinachtsgraben leads to the 2 bunkers and entrances of...
               
               
              ... the Krötenloch; "Wo die Soldaten liegen wie Kröten im  Loch".
              The  southern bunker.
               
               
              Steel rifle shields with fire holes along the trench,
              in front of the Krötenloch bunker.
               
               
              Krötenloch, the northern parallel bunker.
               
               
              From the Krötenloch we follow the Schweinsberggraben,
              named after Major Freiherr Schenk zu Schweinsberg .
               
               
               
              At the south western end  of Schweinsberggraben
              we arrive at the Bremer Ratskeller, a 1st line Stollen. 
               
               
              The Bremer Ratskeller has 2 entrances ...
               
               
              ... to it's underground man made cave, ...
               
               
              ... and an opening for a machine gun, facing the 1st French lines.
               
               
              The Feste Rohrburg was named after ...
               
               
              ... Hauptmann Rohr of the 3rd Gardenschützen Bataillon.
               
               
              It is a rather large bunker, especially downstairs, ...
               
               
              ... where the Rohrburg is connected by tunnels to the 2nd line, ...
               
               
              ... and the Stollen bunkers of the Feste Grossherzog, 
              Feste Mengelbier, and the Aussichtsfelsen.
              Passing these fire holes, ...
               
               
              ... we leave the Rohrburg, ....
               
               
              ....climb a little upward to Feste Grossherzog.
               
               
              Feste Grossherzog formed together with Feste Mengelbier
              and Aussichtsfelsen "Stützpunkt XI".
               
               
              This 2nd line bunker lies on a height of  940 m.
              The Feste has been built in 1916 by
              the Badische Pioniere Bataillon nr. 14 (engineers),
              under supervision of Oberleutnant Ratz.
              It got it's name after Grossherzog Friedrich II of Baden.
               
               
              We could have gone many more steps downstairs
              to explore highly unreliable tunnels, ...

               
               
              ... but we preferred to stay on a rather safe level
              to take a look inside the Feste Grossherzog.
               
               
              Mme. GG. located these samples of soldier's graffitti
              of the period inside the Feste:
              "Hotell zum schönen Aussicht", or "Hotel Beautiful Panorama".
               
               
              "Wel 1914 /15 und 1916".
               
               
              View from the entrance and another view from
              this entrance in the direction of the Aussichtsfelsen.
               
               
              Next to the bunker is a staircase, ....
               
               
              ... leading south-west,  ...
               
               
              ...an observation post with this marvellous view over the valley.
               
               
              Some 50 m. south west, more down the slope,
              but still belonging to Feste Grossherzog, ...
               
               
              ... is the Feste Mengelbier or Bastion Mengelbier.
               
               
              Behind and upward the bunker entrance Mme. GG.
              located this observation post.
               
               
              A steel, armoured observation post,
              fit for use of a "scissor shaped" binocular periscope.
               
               
               
              Only the top of the binoculars would stick out ...
               
               
              We left the Feste Grossherzog for the Minenwerfer bunker ...
               
               
              A 1918 picture of the other, northern slope of
              the Hartmannswillerkopf, in winter conditions.


              In this bunker Leutnant Killian and his crew installed
              and deployed the first Minenwerfer on the HWK.
               
               
              "Here at 21 December 1915 stood the first "Minenwerfer"
              (trench mortar), deployed at HWK
              (Leutnant des Regiments Killian)".
               
               
              Of course  many more Minenwerfer were deployed on the HWK.
              The Germans on the HWK even had their "Minenwerferstrasse".
              But this is, what is left of this bunker on the north west side
              of the Aussichtsfelsen.
               
               
              The 940 m. high  Aussichtsfelsen from the eastern slope.
              From 28 december 1914 this rock was for the Germans
              the most important point on the summit.
               
               
              A 1917 view of the Aussichtsfelsen Stollen Bunkers,
              left the Feste Ratz.
               
               
              Since 1922 the French Government installed
              this huge monument in bronze on the Aussichtsfelsen,
              commemorating the heroic acts of
              the French "15-2 Regiment" (152nd IR)...
               
               
              .. in March 1915, the "Weihnachtskämpfen" of 1915,
              and their actions at nearby Munster and Metzeral.
               
               
              This breathtaking panorama over Cernay tells,
              why this summit was so important for the Germans.
               
               
              Just under the memorial I went inside the Aussichtsfelsen.
               
               
               
              I did not dare to go too far inside the bending tunnels.
               
               
              After a short time I used the other exit under the memorial.
               
               
              From the other exit another view at the extreme
              wide panorama from the narrow ridge of the Aussichtsfelsen.
               
               
              Via Feste Ratz we went back down the southern slope,
              into the 2nd French lines.
               
               
              We left the Feste Ratz to go back to the Bremer Ratskeller.
              Here we crossed the No Man's Land into the French lines.
               
               
               
               
               
              After 200 m. going westward down the slope
              we arrived at this sap, ...
               

              ... connected by a trench,
              which also leads to the entrance of a French tunnel system.
               
               
              As you probably notice, the tunnel is nowadays filled in
              with debris and chalk soil.
               
               
              Following this French 2nd line trench inside,
              I modestly came to the conclusion, ...
               
               
              ... that sometimes you can see more of the shape of
              a trench from above, from the parapet, than from the inside.
               
               
              Here we find a lot of relics, reminding us of the many
              barbed wire obstacles between the trenches.
               
               
              This shelter bunker is that small, that I suppose,
              it served as a guard room.
               
               
              From this bunker we follow inside the trench our way to ...
               
               
              ... the shelter bunker of
              the 2nd company Genie, French engineers.
               
               
              As in all French bunkers on the Vieil Armand
              the entrance is very low...
               
               
              ... and the room downstairs  is only 1.50 m. high,
              and it measures not more than 2 x 2 m.
               
               
              Some last relics, remembering of the presence of
              the 2nd "Compagnie du Genie".
               
               
              After all that undestructable, German steel and concrete,
              it is again amazing to see, ...
               
               
              ... how the French environmentalists "avant la lettre" built
              their "abri's" of mostly natural materials.
               
               
              We left the trench and the small shelter bunker
              of the 2nd.Cie du Genie....
               
               
              .. to the foot of the French National Cemetery at
              the Col du Silberloch, which we had to climb again
              to the road to return to our point of departure.
               
               
              We got our car, parked near the Cemetery
              at the Col du Silberloch, ...
               
               
              ...to make a trip downwards into the valley to visit the French National Cemetery at Cernay.
               
               
              Casualties in the Vosges.
               
               
              Both parties at the Vieil Armand, the Germans and the French, had each around 6.000 men killed. The estimations of the total of casualties on each belligerent side -, men killed, wounded, missed in action, or taken prisoner of war,- has been counted at around 30.000 men.

              In some publications about the Hartmannswillerkopf you will find the death toll of 60.000 men. This is a persistent misunderstanding, by changing the number for casualties  into a number for the presumed death toll. For instance: during all the fights and battles in the front sector of the whole Alsace in 1914-1918, the death toll of the Germans was a total of 22.278, and not even the 60.000 dead men on the HWK mentioned before in those publications.
              So, both belligerent parties at the Hartmannswillerkopf, the French and the Germans,
              shared a total of around 60.000 casualties and of which around 12.000 men were killed. 
               
              Cernay:  The French National Cemetery.
              On the horizon the mountains,
              which witnessed these destructive and bloody battles.
               
               
               
              Cernay: The German War Cemetery.

               
              Of course we do realise, that we have only covered a small portion of all the relicts to be visited at the HWK.
              Especially on the German side of the mountain
              there is much more to see;
              bunkers, caves, and trenches of the 2nd and 3rd line.
              Perhaps this modest impression gives you an idea,
              why we hope to revisit the HWK in the spring of 2011
              to explore those many other sites on this mountain.
               
               Continue to the next chapter:
              © Some period photographs and situation maps:
              Courtesy of "Verlag Les Amis du Hartmannsweilerkopf Deutschland" and















              Reacties

              Antonio Parcianello op 27-12-2010 18:25
              Anche io e mia moglie abbiamo visitato questi posti nell'estate del 2010 e siamo rimasti molto impressionati da quanto è successo su questo fronte durante la Prima Guerra Mondiale e ciò anche se noi abitiamo in Veneto ove sono accadute molte cruente battaglie con migliaia di morti, ma il tempo ha cancellato quasi tutte le tracce che invece qui sono ancora molto visibili.
              Pierre op 27-12-2010 19:59
              @ A. Parcianello.
              Grazie, Antonio, per il vostro commento dall 'Italia! Infatti, in quel periodo Veneto anche lottato molto. Presumibilmente, ci rimane ancora trovato posti a più alto tra le montagne. Grazie ancora.
              Pierre
              Antonio Parcianello op 15-01-2011 13:51
              Grazie Pierre per la risposta, è vero che nelle Dolomiti ci sono ancora molte tracce della Grande Guerra ed io per molti anni ho portato proprio lì i miei scout per far capire loro le atrocità della guerra e perchè imparassero il rispetto per i tanti ragazzi che sono morti. Ma sulle montagne bastavano pochi uomini, anche se vivevano in condizioni atroci soprattutto in inverno, per bloccare qualsiasi movimento di tutti gli eserciti. Sul fronte orientale invece la situazione era molto simile a quella del fronte occidentale, ma è proprio lì che l'urbanizzazione e l'industrializzazione hanno cancellato le tracce di quell'eccidio lasciandoci solo i cimiteri di guerra come Redipuglia, Oslavia, Gorizia e le poesie del poeta Giuseppe Ungaretti. http://www.italialibri.net/opere/poesiediguerra.html Grazie e un cordiale saluto. Antonio
              Pierre op 16-01-2011 00:52
              @ Antonio P. Caro Antonio, benvenuto. Grazie anche per il secondo, commento interessante! I miei complimenti per il fatto che si prende i giovani per i campi di battaglia per ricordare loro che l'unità dell'Europa ha una storia sanguinosa, a scapito di molte vite. In Francia e in Belgio, in gran parte del paesaggio e paesaggio culturale. Ma tra i boschi e le montagne sono ancora per trovare molte tracce della lotta. Se siete interessati, Antonio, a ricevere le mie newsletter sui nuovi aggiornamenti a questo sito, scrivere si prega, inviare un'e-mail a pierregrande_guerre@live.nl per la registrazione.
              La ringrazio molto per il vostro secondo commento!
              Pierre
              Antonio Parcianello op 11-02-2011 11:00
              Caro Pierre, volevo condividere con te e con gli altri visitatori del tuo sito queste parole scritte alla mamma dal tenente degli Alpini Adolfo Ferrero morto sul Monte Ortigara: «Parlate di me ai miei fratelli, parlate di me, morto a 20 anni per la Patria. Sforzatevi di risvegliare in loro il ricordo di me, che è doloroso il pensiero di venire dimenticato da essi.» Credo che la tua opera vada proprio in questa direzione: non dimenticare chi, su qualsiasi fronte fosse, ha lasciato la propria giovane vita sui campi di battaglia. Grazie Pierre per tutti loro. Dear Pierre, I wanted to share with you and other visitors to your site such words written by the mother of Alpini Lieutenant Adolfo Ferrero died on Mount Ortigara: «Speak of me to my brother, speak to me, dead at 20 years for the Country. Strive to awaken in them the memory of me, that is painful thought to be forgotten by them. " I believe that your work goes in this direction: Do not forget who, on any front was, he left his young life on battlefields. Thanks Pierre for all of them.
              Pierre op 11-02-2011 17:01
              @ Antonio. A bilingual answer. Una risposta bilingua.
              English.
              Thank you, Antonio, for your contribution with the last words of the Italian Alpino, Adolfo Ferrero.:
              “Speak about me to my brothers, speak about me, dead at 20 years for the Fatherland. Strive to awaken in them the memory of me, because it would be a sad and painful thought to become forgotten by them.”
              Indeed, Antonio, you have understood my “subliminal” message well. In those times with all the social cultural conveniences of nationalism and conscription laws the soldiers of all belligerent parties had no other option than to fight. So you might indeed read my subliminal message as: Don’t forget, that, no matter which nationality they had to fight for, all these young (and older) soldiers lost their lives on these battlefields during the bloody and long process of our European Peace and Unity of today.
              Italiano:
              Grazie, Antonio, per il vostro contributo con le ultime parole della Alpino Italiano, Adolfo Ferrero.:
              «Parlate di me ai miei fratelli, parlate di me, morto a 20 anni per la Patria. Sforzatevi di risvegliare in loro il ricordo di me, che è doloroso il pensiero di venire dimenticato da essi.»
              Infatti, Antonio, hai capito il mio messaggio "subliminale" bene! In quei tempi, con tutte le comodità sociale culturale de lo nazionalismo e delle leggi dei l'arruolamento gli soldati di tutte le parti belligeranti non ha avuto altra scelta che combattere. Così si potrebbe infatti leggere il mio messaggio subliminale come: Non dimenticate, che, non importa che nazionalità hanno dovuto combattere, tutti questi giovani (e vecchi)soldati hanno perso la vita su questi campi di battaglia durante il processo sanguinose e lunghe del nostro Pace Europeo e l'unità Europea di oggi.
               
              Molto grazie, thank you very much, Antonio, per vostro bene osservazione!
               
              Pierre
              Bill Monroe op 18-07-2012 04:44
              We just got back from a musical tour and spent three days in Cernay, France. Our host family took me up to HWK. Since my grandfather fought in the US Marines,it was especially moving to see how the soldiers lived and fought in WWI. On the day we went, nobody was up on the mountain except my French host and myself. We explored many of the trenches and then it started to rain. The thunder rolled through the valley and above us, as the rain came down on a warm summer evening. All I could think of was the similar sounds from the war nearly a hundred years ago. Other than the rain and thunder, it was beautifully silent. By the time we reached the cemetery on our way back, the western sky was clearing, and the sky turned bright orange. Myself, an American, and my French host, Julian, shared a few moments in our lives that had echoes of a world conflict where people fought for their lives from one minute to the next. All in all, it was one of the most memorable times of my life. Thank you for this wonderful website. I will return to HWK again someday.
              Pierre op 19-07-2012 23:53
              @ Bill Monroe. Thank you for your message. I am always content to read a reaction from someone, Bill, who has experienced a visit to a particular battlefield himself. I consider your reaction also as a confirmation for others that my images compose a fair impression of the situation at the HWK. The times we have been on the HWK, we have met no one else also, which intensifies of course the experience. But fortunately without thunder. ( which we have experienced this year on another Vosges mountain.) In the near future, Bill, I will update this page with an impression of our visit to the German War Cemetery at Cernay.
              Thanks again, Bill.
              Pierre
              Poilu op 03-09-2013 19:53

              Geweldig wat een werk jullie hier in gestoken hebben.

              Maar ook een onwijs spannend avontuur om alles te reconstrueren en te hervinden.

              Hoop dat je vrouw haar strijd wint en jullie met deze passie verder kunnen gaan.

              Pierre Grande Guerre op 04-09-2013 13:23

              @ Poilu. Dank je wel voor dit bericht en al de andere van gisteren. Je hebt het goed gezien, Poilu, veel werk , maar ook met veel plezier gedaan. Uiteraard zijn mijn vrouw en ik ook dankbaar voor jouw wensen voor haar herstel. We zouden graag nog enige jaren onze verkenningen langs het front voortzetten.

              Een prettige dag nog.

              Pierre

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