Ouvrage Latiremont is a gros ouvrage (large work) of the Maginot Line – a line of concrete fortifications, obstacles and weapon installations built by France in the 1930s to deter invasion by Germany. The site of Ouvrage Latiremont was selected and approved by the Commission d’Organisation des Régions Fortifiées (CORF) in 1931. It cost eighty-eight million francs (approximately twelve million in pound sterling) to construct the fortification. The design of Ouvrage Latiremont is known as a casemate fortress – a fortified or armoured structure, also referred to as a vaulted chamber, from which guns are fired. Once completed, 75mm and 81mm guns were installed and a second phase was planned, to add additional 75mm and 135mm gun turret blocks. However, the second phase of the development never went ahead as the funding was allocated elsewhere.
Latiremont has two main entrances and six combat blocks (three infantry blocks and three artillery). It also comprises more than five kilometres of underground tunnels and galleries; these are at an average depth of thirty metres. A small narrow-gauge railway system, which was connected to a regional military railway system, once linked all six sections of the fortress and it was used to transport supplies, such as equipment, food and ammunition. There were said to be several stations inside Latiremont which were large enough to service and store large trains. Once fully operational, Latiremont was placed under the command of Commandant Pophillat. Pophillat had twenty-one officers and five-hundred and eighty men of the 149th Fortress Infantry Regiment at his disposal.
Following the 1939 invasion of Poland, Britain and France declared war on Germany. Thereafter, between the September 1939 and June 1940, Latiremont fired over 14,4 52 75mm rounds and 4,234 81mm rounds at German forces. The fortress, though, was not directly attacked until June 1940. On the 21st June 1940, the German 161st Division led by Colonel Gerhard Wilck, which brought 210mm howitzers and 305mm siege mortars with them, launched their attack against Latiremont. While the attack was underway, a small number of German units moved to the rear of the Maginot Line where they were able to cut power and communications. Despite heavy resistant from Latiremont and nearby fortress Fermont, firing ceased on 25th June and both garrisons surrendered to the German forces on 27th June. For the remainder of the war, the area was used for a German propaganda film, to document the June 1940 attacks, but it did not see any further significant fighting.
In 1951 the French government attempted to restore many of the northeastern ouvrages, to defend against a potential advance by the Warsaw Pact. However, following the establishment of the French Nuclear Strike Force, the importance of the Maginot Line diminished. Latiremont was subsequently abandoned by the military in 1967. Today, the fortress remains abandoned and has suffered heavily from water ingress.
Our Version of Events
Aside from drinking beer, this explore was our reason for being on the other side of the English Channel. We weren’t certain at all if the place would be doable, but after reading about it we decided it was probably worth the risk. Nonetheless, towards the end of our trip there was a sudden drop in team morale. This resulted in us taking a vote in an Aldi car park, over French bread and Biscoff, on whether or not we should crack on and drive for three more hours to reach Latiremont, or turn tail and check out a few old manors as we headed back to the ferry terminus. With the votes all in and tucked nicely into a hat, we made a short ceremony out of revealing the results. In the end, the remainers won, four to two, so there would be no leaving Europe just yet.
We finished off our Biscoff and spent our remaining Euros on food in Aldi before we set off for Latiremont. Our combined wealth got us a couple of tins of beans, a box of mushrooms and some spices to sprinkle on top. Someone did offer to buy our car in the car park after we got the supplies in, but we had to insist we really needed it to get home to England. The potential buyer still didn’t seem to see that as a problem though. It was quite a mission to shake him.
The drive over to the border of Luxembourg was very pleasant. We played some banging tunes and arrived at the location with plenty of time to spare. At first, we had anticipated that finding the fortress in the forest would be quite a challenge, but as it turned out we stumbled across it within ten minutes of being there. Gaining access to the gros ouvrage was a little more tricky of course – it is a military fortress after all!
Once inside, we found ourselves in a standard-looking bunker. There were signs and evidence that guns had been positioned in here, and at first we thought that was that. Most bunkers we’ve entered have been fairly compact and bare, and you can usually get through all the rooms very quickly. Our minds were blown, then, when we discovered a lift shaft and, after peering down to see how high it was, realised we couldn’t see the bottom. Obviously extremely excited at the point, at the prospect the place was going to be absolutely huge, we began to make our way down a staircase next to the lift shaft.
We made our way down the steps, which went on for a long, long time, until we reached the bottom where we found ourselves in a cold tunnel surrounded by enormous blast doors. It was at this point we realised we’d underestimated how big this place really is. For the next few hours, then, we made our way through different snaking tunnels, and explored many side rooms and chambers leading off from them. One of the best parts of the explore that we came across was some sort of old gun turret. There were plenty of others things to see as well though. This place was certainly a bit of a time capsule. The only problem, however, was that we started to lose track of where we were inside the fortress. It’s very easy to get lost in the labyrinth-like corridors and rooms and we’d eaten all the bread earlier in the day, so making a breadcrumb trail had been out of the question. Eventually, we felt as though we were well and truly lost so decided it was time to find a way back to the surface. It took a little while, and a few false turns, before we found a tunnel that sort of looked familiar. We followed it and, thankfully, ended up back where we started.
All in all, then, this explore was absolutely fantastic – certainly one of the best military fortifications we’ve ever explored. It’s also steeped in interesting history about the war. Anyone who happens to find themselves near Luxembourg should definitely pay this place a visit. You never know your luck after all, you might find a way inside like we did.
Explored with Ford Mayhem, MKD, Rizla Rider, The Hurricane and Husky.
I've visit this sort of farmhouse at the end of last year. During a little vacation in Luxembourg I had the change to take a look at this place.
I'm suprised that there is no other topic about this one on os.
On the outside it looked a bit scary, hidden by trees and bushes. On the inside there are some nice spots to see. I especially loved the bedroom upstairs.
In the barn are a few cars, but on my way out I've found another car, a classic one, hidden in a kind of cave lol.
Here's a selection of some pictures I've made, more you can find on my flickr.
Arriving in the centre of Belval in Luxembourg, one can not help but look up at the huge blast furnaces which dominate the skyline. Ultra-modern high-rises and new-builds butted up against these giants are dwarfed. Looking at the building site at the base, we glance at each other.... "We NEED to go up there!" we agree.
The Blast Furnaces - Image stolen from Google.
We park up the car, check in at the Ibis, then head to some Buffalo place for a good helping of meat and a few beers while it got dark. Following a brief squabble about the size of the tip we head back outside and behold the monstrous marvels illuminated in the night sky and head straight for them!
The steel works has long closed, but the Belval Blast Furnaces have not only been retained, but have been fully restored, coated with pretty paint and made into a visitor attraction. The new buildings at the base, presumably a visitor centre, were nearing completion and the towers will soon be open to the public.
Mid-restoration as seen on Google Streetview:
Being explorers, we weren't prepared to wait for the towers to open, or to pay for a guided tour during the day! We venture into the building site to check out the bottom of the furnace towers and discover the only way up is through the new buildings. Luckily we soon find our way to the roof where the 80 metre twisting and winding staircase begins. Being careful to stay out of the lights that illuminate the structure we make our way to the top.
This unplanned adventure with with Proj3ct M4yh3m turned out to be a highlight of the trip. I'd opted to take my 24-105mm lens, whereas Mr Mayhem went for the 16-35mm wide angle. I kind of regretted not taking my wide angle, but should make for an interesting variation in shots. The lights in the old industrial structure provided some fantastic opportunities for shots and the view over the other blast furnace was amazing.
Maison Kirsch, Luxembourg
Visited with: PG UE and Scott Chadwick.
Visit date: November 2014
Please Note: Entry is always through an open access point and not by forcing our way inÃ¢â‚¬Â¦.. We are explorers, not vandals.
No history available at this time, however, if I manage to find any I will update this report.
This is the first and only location I have been to in Luxembourg at the time of writing this report and was very excited to visit here. We arrived a little earlier than expected here due to the fact that a location we planned to visit first had been demolished.
We had been told that Kirsch is dark inside and difficult to shoot in certain areas due to the lack of light, this turned out to totally correct, however, as you do we made the best of what light we had or did not have I should say!
The Maison is not small but only around half of the site is for living in, the other half looked like it was for cattle or horses from what I could see through the windows anyway. Unfortunately though these areas were not accessible, luckily the main house was open.
After having a quick walk around we split up and started to photograph Kirsch as much as we could before we had to set off back into France for our final location before flying home later in the day.
Lets get on with the photosÃ¢â‚¬Â¦..
I started on the top floor with the bedrooms and this is where I spent most of my time. There is 3 bedrooms on this floor and as PG UE had called shotgun on the main bedroom I headed into one of the others.
Here is a shot of bedroom number 1, not much in here apart from a bed, some old weighing scales for food etc and some scales for us mere mortals.
Then I headed into bedroom number 2. This room consisted of 2 beds but one was covered in lots of junk such as old clothes and very damp magazines. I did however spot a nice little bottle of Mosquito repellent on the window sill.
A few minutes after I had finished in bedroom number 2 PG finished in the main room and I headed in to take my shots. In this room there is lots to look at such as the main bed, cupboard, side tables, dressing table and lots of little knick-knacks that had been left behind.
Anyway, I will let you see the images as they tell the story far better than I can.
So the main bedroom done I headed for the loft space that we found earlier, again this area was full of items. My favourite things from the loft though had to be the toy Aeroplane and the bike! Why on earth a bike is in the loft I have no ideaÃ¢â‚¬Â¦
So the bedrooms and loft photographed now it was time to head down to the ground floor which consisted of a dining room, kitchen, office, main hallway, stairs and storage rooms. I will not be posting images from all of the rooms of this report but over time I will add them to my flickr page, the link can be found at the end of this report.
Here is a shot of my favourite place within the maison, the main hallway. Why I hear sayÃ¢â‚¬Â¦ No idea really I just loved the dark wood panelling leading you to the door with the light streaming in above. However to get there I had to pass all of the dead mice and rat remains on the floor! You are right I am weird to say this was my favourite area but it just felt calming for some reason.
Here is a shot of the stairs leading up to the top floor.
The last area I went into was a great area as well, the store room which was full of jars with pickled food in them and other items such as wine on the opposite side of the room. When I entered this room I got a really weird feeling something just did not feel normal, this has never happened to me before on any explore. Now just let me say I am not a ghost hunter or a believer in ghosts as I have never seen, heard or witnessed anything to say that spirits exists. Anyway as I said I got a really weird feeling upon entering the room, I shouted if PG or Scott was around but no answer, I then shouted a little louder and got a reply from PG UE that he was in the next room. So, with my mind at rest I got back to taking my photos.
A few weeks later I spoke to PG about this whilst we was on a UK explore and he said I bet it was the store room and then followed on by saying that he had the same type of feeling when he was in there as well, Anyway I digress.
More images available on flickr
The images above are just a small selection of the images I have edited. I will be adding lots more photos of Maison Kirsch on my Flickr page which can be found here https://www.flickr.com/photos/119757413@N07/
For my first Luxembourg location I have to say I was very pleased with what Kirsch had to show me, Also, this was my first explore of an old house. As much as I enjoyed my time here I do have to say that it felt a little strange walking around rooms with personal items just sat slowly being covered in dust.
People were born here, people grew up here, people had laughed and cried here, good and bad times enjoyed and worked through here, people may have even died hereÃ¢â‚¬Â¦ Now there is nothing, no laughter, no noise, nothing, just items of people long goneÃ¢â‚¬Â¦Ã¢â‚¬Â¦ So sad.
To read more location reports of the places we visited on the tour please click here, http://www.alanduggan-photography.co.uk/tag/tournov2014/
Thanks for reading,