Histourism: The old Dutch line of defense (Waterlinie)

Yesterday, I went for a bicycle ride along a part of the Waterlinie close to Utrecht: the area between Fort de Gagel and Fort Ruijgenhoek, to be precise, where there’s a very young forest, planted just 15 years ago. It’s a lovely place for a spring outing, with lots of birdlife and awakening flowers.
The Waterlinie was the main line of defense in the Netherlands from 1870 until approximately 1940, when it failed to prove useful against Nazi Germany (who simply flew over and bombed the hell out of Rotterdam). It consists of a series of smaller fortifications and five fortified towns: Muiden, Weesp, Naarden, Gorinchem and Woudrichem. The lands around the Waterlinie could be flooded to knee-height, impeding the enemy’s cavalry, infantry and artillery during an invasion. Dotted around the landscape are a number of small bunkers, which provided shelter for around 16 people per bunker in the case of cannon fire or a bomb raid, and there are also some abandoned case-mates. The line was brought in a partial state of defense only three times: in 1870, during the French-German war; during World War I; and in 1939, before the German invasion.

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