Operation Nordwind and the Colmar Pocket

Whilst on holiday in Alsace last year I was surprised to learn how fierce the fighting had been in that area, as I'd never read very much about it (I suppose events further North overshadowed it somewhat).

Since then I've done a few searches on the net for more information (especially about the towns we were in) and have found a couple of interesting sites.






If anyone has any other interesting links, especially pertaining to actions South of Colmar, I'd be most interested.

Alsacien said:
I live there partly - are you particularly interested in WW1 or WW2?
WW2 mostly, but I'd be interested in hearing about WW1 events in the area too. It'll give some more ideas on places to visit next time.


Most of my links are at home but there are a few "must sees".


The expert on the area is Eric Mansuy, you can email him from the link above, he speaks English.

Hartmannswillerkopf (or Viel Armand in French) overlooks Cernay (NW of Basel). Its a hill just under a 1000mts high, but it commands a view of the Rhine valley from Basel to Colmar, and across to the Black forest. Due to the strategic importance it suffered 8 major offensives in 1914-15 before going largely static. After 1915 both sides just dug in - or in the German case, poured more concrete - as a result it is the best preserved WW1 battlefield site in Europe. If you go take a head lamp - some of the tunnels run 50+ meters underground.

Also worth a visit are the fortifications at Le Ligne near Orbey.

Also Mutzig fort http://www.cheminsdememoire.gouv.fr/page/affichelieu.php?idLieu=1539&idLang=fr

The route de cretes was built to supply the front line and runs north - south along the Vosges ridge - lots of interesting WW1 monuments and memorials along the way, and the crash site of a WW2 RCAF bomber.

I have found hundreds of block houses and trench systems wandering the hills, but no consolidated guidebooks unfortunately. The military significance of "Battle of the frontiers 1914-15" as it was known, is the fact that the French drafted in experienced mountain troops - Les Diablos Bleu - who could operate in the snow. The Germans reciprocated by sending in Alpine troops - so you had a lot of professional regiments on the front.

WW2 sites include the maginot line.

Hackenberg http://verpelliere.free.fr/hackenberg.htm saw action with Germans defending against US troops.

Struthof concentration camp near Schirmeck has been partly restored:

It was mainly used for resistance people, but also held 3 SAS men captured near St Die. I also found a memorial in the middle of a forest to 2 SAS men killed fighting with the resistance near the end of the war. I took photos but have not followed up yet.

It is a fasinating area from a military perspective - but info in English is limited on WW1 as it was solely a German/French front.

In WW2 there were fresh US troops against experienced but out numbered German troops - several US soldiers have published memoirs in English.
Big armour/infanty fighting in Lorraine to the west of the Vosges mountains and many US memorials in the area.

Hope this helps, if you or anyone else needs something specific let me know.

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