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The German War Cemetery at Niederbronn les Bains holds the remains of 15.809 soldiers (4 per headstone) that died in this region during the final stages of the Second World. The Albert Schweitzer centre near the cemetery tells the story of 12 of the soldiers buried here.
Most of the soldiers buried at the Niederbronn War Cemetery died during Operation Nordwind, launched by Hitler on New Year’s Eve 1944. The operation was a desperate attempt to retake Alsace. Fierce battles erupted in villages such as Wingen-sur-Moder, Reipertswiller, Philippsbourg in the northern Vosges, Hatten and Rittershoffen north of Haguenau or Herrlisheim in the bridgehead north of Strasbourg.
After the war thousands of fallen German soldiers were buried in graves scattered all across the region. In 1961 these graves were relocated to the former American-German cemetery on a hill overlooking the strategic pass through Niederbronn to the plain.
Among the cemetery 1.500 graves are for unidentified soldiers. 2.200 graves belong to members of the Waffen-SS though this information is omitted on their headstones. The cemetery includes graves of 17 nationalities; a clear indication that the German army was partly reliant on foreign manpower during the final stages of the war.
The graves belonging to soldiers that died in June 1940 shows that the Maginot Line forts did stop some of the German forces. Other burials include members of the Volkssturm – a militia unit created in October 1944 –, women ambulance drivers, several civilians and German prisoners of war who died removing mines after the war.
The cemetery and the smaller one in Bergheim near Colmar are maintained by the Volksbund Deutsche Kriegsgräberfürsorge, a private association whose objective is to preach peace. It also manages the Albert Schweitzer Youth Center attached to the cemetery.
The L’abri de Hatten museum is dedicated to the innocent civilian victims and the American and German soldiers who died in the battle of Hatten which was according to US general Devers “one of the great defensive battles of the war”. Visit the museum and appreciate the freedom and peace we enjoy today.
The Four-a-Chaux is a Maginot Line fortress in Lembach, Alsace built between 1930 and 1935 and covering an area of 26 hectares. The guided visit of the fortress features the living quarters and equipment used to operate the cannons and moving turrets. It also provides information on the Maginot Line and the forts of the region.
The Casemate of Aschenbach in Uffheim is an interval infantry casemate of the Maginot Line, composed of two firing chambers. Between 1990 and 2005, the casemate was restored by the Memorial Ligne Maginot Association of Haute-Alsace. Today the association offers guided tours of the casemate and organises a military re-enactment show.
The Schoenenbourg Fort is the most important Maginot Line fortification in Alsace, France. The fort has been open to the public since 1978. The barracks and kitchens, the command post, gun positions and other former locations can be visited. The museum presents documents on the history of the Maginot Line and on military life in a fort.