It seemed like a good idea at the time.
In the 1930s, France, faced with rising militarization of its neighbors Germany and Italy as well as a shortage of military-aged young men thanks to a drop in the national birth rate following World War I, decided to build a complex network of fortresses, gun emplacements and anti-tank defenses along it's border. During the Great War, the German advance had been held off by static, defensive combat, and it was believed that more of the same would at very least delay any invasion long enough for the country to mount a response.
The network was called the Maginot Line, after the French Minister of War André Maginot, who championed the project. And the line was indeed impressive. It stretched from Switzerland to Luxembourg, with a second defense, the Alpine Line, defending the Italian border. 142 fortresses, called ouvrages, were linked to hundreds of bunkers, blockhouses, artillery and machine gun emplacements and supply depots. It was believed by the French military experts to be impregnible.
Which is why the Germans went around it.
Still, as a whole the Maginot Line was an impressive accomplishment of military engineering. Pity it didn't work.
Game and Story Use
- A WWII-era campaign set before the Fall of France might have some action taking place in the Maginot Line
- The Line could be used as an inspriation for a similar network of fortresses and defenses. How successful the defenses are will depend a lot upon your setting.