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Military fortifications

In 1934, Czechoslovakia adopted its defensive doctrine from the French model, Strategic Defence, in the years to come to facilitate the construction of forts, aimed at frustrating  Czechoslovakia’s enemies. Czechoslovakia had enough skilled construction companies for the border fortifications work and also a good raw material base. The programme of fortifications reflected the relatively flat relief of the western half of the state, which an attacker would have to overcome where there were no natural obstacles. Because the most dangerous enemy was already clearly seen to be Germany, the idea was to concentrate the main forces of the Czechoslovak army in the Czech lands, whilst in Slovakia there were supposed to be stationed only a small part of Czechoslovakia units. The fortification was initiated in 1935 with the construction of isolated infantry blockhouses, but even by the following year the system came under stress as the two types of buildings were constructed, which differed from each in design, equipment and tasks to perform. On the one hand, they were objects of heavy fortifications (TO)- armed with artillery of heavy machine guns, cannons and mortars, and on the other type with objects of light fortification (LO)- a small concrete blockhouse with a machine gun. South-west Bohemia also had this type of armament. The risk of sudden attack through Šumava, however, was to some extent, controlled by environmental conditions favourable for the defence - the border crossing is to a great extent mountainous, the road network very sparse and, moreover, was more suitable for agricultural traffic and not for tanks and heavy trucks. For these reasons, the West Bohemian border fortification was in the plan approved by the Government in 1936, but as a penultimate stage for construction. Nevertheless, in the same year, the major roads on the western border were secured by several dozen infantry blockhouses. Heavy fortification should have passed between Železná Ruda and Klínovec and should have included  strongpoints. During the summer and autumn of 1936 between Železná Ruda and Tachov 58 blockhouses  and another 100 between Tachov and Klínovec. Other fortifications had been planned at Svatá Kateřina, Hyršov, Všeruby, Maxov, Česká Kubice and Capartice. The blockhouses were set in close proximity to the border and construction was due to begin in spring 1937. On the scene, however, came a new type of light fortification model 37. and so the planned work was dropped. The new line of defence took into account these cheaper options and, unlike the previously-planned constructions TO was planned to go deeper inland. In 1937, all relevant communications in the Šumava area  were secured by models  37., called řopík 1). The basic model 37 has two side apertures, they were actually miniature objects of heavy fortification that were built solely on the lines on the principle of mutual protection with lateral firing. The blockhouses which faced the enemy had a front-facing wall which did not allow them to fire a shot, and which was further protected by a layer of natural stone and backfill. The frontal wall was extended into the protective wings, which when viewed from the front hid the 'loopholes’ and forced the enemy enter the line of fire. The strength of the front wall of building model 37 ranged from 65-120 cm, the ceiling of 45-100 cm and the back wall from 40-80 cm. Loopholes had been created by cast iron frames with mounting pins for gun stabilisation which allowed accurate shooting and indirect targeting, by which it was possible to keep firing even in darkness or fog. An air-exchange ventilator was operated manually and observation of the surrounding terrain was allowed by means of special mirror periscopes in the ceiling of the building. The defence of the building was assisted by a tilted grenade slip for launching hand grenades, located near the entrance. The redoubt was divided into two firing rooms, each armed with two guns and a unit of 7 men (type A, B). Later buildings were designed for 4 defenders, with one firing aperture (type D and E). Type C was intended only for a gunner with one mate, and basically was a concrete-lined field position with a roof of corrugated iron offering little resistance.

Last edited by: Beránek Filip (30.06.2010)



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