Fort de Queuleu

Metz, France

Fort de Queuleu construction began while part of Lorraine was under French rule in 1868. After the interruption of the Franco-Prussian War of 1870-71, the fort was improved between 1872 and 1875 by the German Empire, which had annexed the area as a result of the war. Renamed Fort Goeben, it formed part of the first ring of the fortifications of Metz. Functionally obsolete by the First World War, it saw no military action, but was used by the Germans as a detention center for members of the French Resistance during World War II.

The fort was one of the first built according to the fortification system developed by Lieutenant Colonel Raymond Adolphe Séré de Rivières. The goal was to build a discontinuous enclosure around Metz using a series of artillery forts armed with a variety of guns. In the 1860s tension was rising between France and Germany, causing France to attend to the fortification of its frontiers. Metz, close to the border and a strategic road and rail crossing, was the beneficiary of one of the first programs of fortification. Before all of the forts could be completed, France was defeated in the Franco-Prussian War and the area around Metz was annexed to Germany. Metz then became a crucial strongpoint on Germany's frontier, receiving sustained attention to its defenses that culminated in the Moselstellung of the early twentieth century.

The pre-war French construction program comprised eight forts surrounding Metz at a distance of 3.5 - 5.5 km from the center of the city. Planning began in 1864, and in 1867 the project was placed under the supervision of Séré de Rivières. Compared with later Séré de Rivières system forts, the fort's design is reminiscent of the bastioned enclosures of Vauban of the 18th century. In their developed form, the Séré de Rivières forts of the 1870s were much simplified in plan, with less overt reference to historic prototypes.

During the Annexation of the Moselle during World War II the fort was used starting in 1943 by the German occupiers as an internment camp for members of the French Resistance, including Joseph Derhan. It was not a concentration camp, but an interrogation center for captured or arrested members of the Resistance. Between 1500 and 1800 people were detained at Queuleu. Prisoners were held in Casemate A of the fort. Thirty-six died there and four escaped through a ventilation shaft. Among the most notable prisoners were the Mario Group of resisters, led by Jean Burger. Almost all of the prisoners were transferred to concentration camps as American forces approached Metz in late 1944. The Germans evacuated the fort on 17 August 1944 and moved the majority of the detainees to Struthof, Schirmeck or Ravensbrück.

The Fort de Queuleu's four faces measure 350 metres while the side facing the city measures 700 metres. Barracks and casemates were arranged on two levels. As constructed, a large proportion of the fort's artillery was placed on the surface of the fort, exposed to high-angle artillery fire. This was not considered a major disadvantage in the 1860s, when most opposing artillery was expected to be smooth-bored guns firing solid shot or gunpowder-filled shells on a low trajectory, with the aim of battering the walls of the fort so that breaches could be exploited by infantry. During the 1870s rifled guns came into widespread use, making exposed masonry walls dangerously vulnerable. At the same time, fuses were developed that enabled shells fired at a high angle from howitzers or mortars to explode in the air above an open position, making exposed fixed-position artillery untenable. Fort de Queuleu was thus already obsolete when it was taken over by the Germans.

A memorial to the Resistance and Deportation, designed by architect R. Zonca, was inaugurated on 20 November 1977, when the fort became the property of the city of Metz. The fort is open to the public at scheduled times.

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Founded: 1868
Category: Castles and fortifications in France

Rating

4.3/5 (based on Google user reviews)

User Reviews

Bill Freid (3 years ago)
Fun place for kids and a walk, but not much history.
Kristy Thibodeau (3 years ago)
Historical fort that was a German occupied during WWII. Modern day it contains a park and running paths.
Il Grillo Artista (3 years ago)
Beautiful place for just a walk or picnicking all day long with kids (and dog).
Sandy Flamen (3 years ago)
Fun for kids and parents, nie walks
Nick Bond (4 years ago)
Fort turned concentration camp turned park and museum. Definitely worth a visit. The site itself has so much history and greatly explains the recent history of the Lorraine region. The buildings are old and make great photos and it can get a bit spooky at night. There are pull up bars along the walking/jogging path and ruins of the old fort which make it interesting as you jog around. You can also get a tour of the SS concentration camp if you are interested.
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