One of the well maintained and often visited military fortifications you could , with little watchfulness, see on the way to the Polish border near the City of Nachod in East Bohemia.
N-S 82 Brezinka or how the cannon returned to its old place.
The infantry cabin N-S 82 Brezinka is located less than one kilometer from Nachod. It was a part of the border fortification during the time of the First Republic. The fortification system was built between 1935 – 1938 and was copied after the French Maginot Line but the Czech system of fortifications was much better in many ways. We could say that it was much better in many ways with the exception that our fortifications were not used in battle but even the French were not successful fighters. The heavy fortification at our border with Germany and according to plans also with Hungary and at several locations also with Poland ( intentionally I am not including Austria because it was occupied by Germany at spring of 1938) was drafted as a tool to slow down the enemy and not to stop him as many people think. The plan was to slow the enemy down so the French army would have time for preparation of an attack on Germany from the other site. Therefore the construction was done in such a way that an attack on light fortifications would not be so strong. I will explain this plan later. Enemy, who theoretically would attack our borders would have to go through heavy fire from the heavy machine guns ( Type 35, 7.92 cm, 4.7 cm anti tank mortars, artillery fire from 10 cm heavy guns and mortar fire from 12 cm mortars, all firing from the artillery fortifications.
The rest of the enemy soldiers who would pass through this firing line would have to pass firing wall of light guns (heavy type 35, light type 26, machine guns caliber 7,92) and if they would penetrate farther they would reach trenches with infantry soldiers. Precisely here the infantry and the tanks would be waiting for the end of artillery fire so they could move forward and chase or capture wounded and exhausted enemy soldiers.
Unfortunately this is only an optimistic vision of our fortification system but in reality the plan called for stopping of the enemy attack so the civilian population could evacuate and at the same time our military would move to so called "separation wall" which was a line of light defence fortifications leading from south to north. The plans called for three such lines: the Vltava Weall from Liberec to Ceske Budejovice, the Moravian Wall from Kraliky to Znojmo and Beskydy Wall leading from Opava to Breclav. The border region is dotted with isolated infantry and artillery fortifications. The individual fortification are concrete bunkers where originally were installed machine and anti tanks guns ( antitank 4,7 mm cannon), ammunition depot, officers’ living quarters and ladders leading to machine gun bells located on the top of the bunker (see photo) in the upper level ( at the level of the surrounding terrain) and soldiers’ living quarters, electrical power station, restrooms, baths, well and filtration station. The soldiers were required not to fire in direct line toward the enemy but they were ordered to fire sideways, so called barrage wall. Therefore the proper fortification was almost invisible. Between the individual bunkers were several obstacles made of barbed wire, two anti tanks obstacles or anti tanks ditches.
The bunkers, like for example the one in closely located Dobrosov, also opened to tourists, are connected with other bunkers with underground passages. Usually it is an artillery fortification (with three 10 cm guns), mine throwing tower (which is not a tower in reality but an armor plated dome able to rotate on the top of the bunker with two 10 cm guns). The infantry fortifications are the same as the isolated bunkers except they are connected with the underground system) and finally the entrance (which is a smaller fortress located 200 m behind the line. This entrance is also used as automobile reloading area. This bunker is fit out with less stronger military gear. Obstacles surrounding the bunker are connected in one unit. The light fortifications are sort of imitation of the heavy fortifications. The bunkers look almost identical but they are smaller and have only the ground floor. They do have machine guns but do not have bells. They are in reality connecting points for surrendering trenches and the are obstacles between them.
N-S 82 Brezinka is in the Czech republic and Slovakia unique because the Club of Military History reconstructed it to 1938 look. Inside, the visitors will see working technical equipment (like well pump, filter room which kept excess pressure inside the bunker so no poison gases could enter the bunker through any possible leakage. The soldiers therefore did not have to use gasmasks.), field telegraph, and very unique for that period of time flash toilets and even some original weapons. The most interesting showpiece is still operational anti tank cannon pointing in the direction of Nachod lowlands. Its history is also very interesting: it was made by Skoda factory in Plzen and installed in Brezinka in 1938. After the Munich agreement was signed the Czechoslovak military had to leave the fortifications and leave the cannon behind. The Germans after the occupation and establishment of the Protectorate dismantled the cannon and moved it to so called Atlantic Rampart in Norway. This cannon was there in readiness service until 1980 mainly because same as any other military equipment made in Czechoslovakia, this cannon had "only one blunder" – it was the best in the world!
Members of the Military History Club in Nachod longed to find and purchase all the original military equipment and after learning that this cannon is in Norway they succeeded in exchanging that for some old communist era cars. They could not believe their own eyes when they re-installed the N-S 82 where it belonged.
The Czechoslovak fortification system is unique in the whole world – nobody had a better system. And the pre-war First Czechoslovak republic was able to finance such a fortification system because it was one of the richest and technologically most advanced country in the world.Story by Michal Huzvar
Translated by Jan J. Neumann
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