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The Maginot and Siegfried Lines

Throughout history strong fortifications were only successful as a short term tactic. They work well if the intent is to delay an enemy long enough for the defender’s allies to come to their aid. If used as a long term strategy all fortifications can be defeated as the ancient Israelites learned at Masada. In more modern times after WWI the French spent a fortune building the Maginot Line to protect them from the next German invasion. The Germans made such short work of the Maginot Line when the invasion came that the name became a derisive term. Most amazingly though the Germans failed to learn the very lesson they had taught the French and built their own Siegfried Line which also ended up a total failure.

What got me started on this tangent is a little known medal only just barely mentioned in Angolia’s classic book on Political & Civil Awards of the Third Reich. The medal was issued by the construction firm of Grun & Bilfinger AG which built the section of the Siegfried Line near the town of Offenburg in Baden. They also built the impressive Ludendorff bridge in Remagen which became another famous WWII landmark. Grun & Bilfinger must have been proud of their work since they issued this very attractive bronze medal to their employees who worked on the project. The obverse depicts a German soldier protecting a mother and child plus an eagle  to the right of a fortified line and cathedral all within a legend including the date 1938. On the reverse is the company logo and a working man within the company name legend. Most interesting thing about this medal is that it does not have a swastika on it anywhere which is most unusual for something made during the peak period of Nazi power.

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