Last weekend, we went to Lucerne and visited the fortress of Fürigen. We had been looking forward to visiting some of Switzerland’s formerly hidden fortresses that have been turned into museums. Since we were near Lucerne, we finally got the chance.
Festung Fürigen Museum zur Wehrgeschichte (aka Fort Fürigen) is part of Swiss National Redoubt defense plan (Schweizer Alpenfestung or Réduit Suisse) to respond to foreign invasion. Developed in by neutral Switzerland the 1880’s, Germany’s invasion of its neighbors necessitated updates (Germany even developed an invasion plan for Switzerland). Fort Fürigen was part of a series of fortifications around Lake Lucerne that were rushed to completion in 1941-2 to protect nearby roads and rail lines.
The entrance is intentionally well-camouflaged. We had to double back and ask for directions to find it. The nondescript entrance leads to a 200-meter (656 feet) tunnel system leads into the mountain.
Entering the fort, you pass the radio station (located near the entrance to assure clear reception) and several sets of machine gun defenses.
Once past the heavy fortifications you see the workings of the fort. They have the guns, a filter for radioactive material, air shafts, devices to monitor the air for poison gas, storage depot and more on display.
While the infirmary resembled any 1940’s hospital movie set, the bunk house and dining area looked remarkably like many Swiss ski lodges.
Since they were storing munitions in the bunker, smoking was forbidden…in some areas. It must have been like prison, where the talk of banning cigarettes leads to mutiny and so it was only limited in essential areas. After all, the living quarters were gas-proof.
The Swiss had good reason to build defensive outposts like this one. Hitler’s plans to invade Switzerland were uncovered post-World War II. The Soviet Union’s also recommended invading the country.
One fortress down, only about 14,999 to go.
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Cool, sounds like a very interesting place. Most of the stereotypical tourist attractions I hear about are based upon castles, beautiful scenery or outdoor activities. It’s great that you’re exploring some less-conventional Swiss attractions (and blogging about them!).
We’re hoping to visit some more of these fortresses (Switzerland has loads). Do you have any suggestions?
I recommend you have a look at http://fort.ch/Karte.html which lists almost all fortresses which can be visited.
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Did you know that Swiss TV produced a living science project in this fortress called “Alpenfestung – Leben im Réduit” or in English; the alpine fortress – life in the military recluse”. Have a look on my blog where I wrote an article about the TV show with some links to footage from the fortress Fürigen. http://swissclubvic.wordpress.com/2009/03/01/schweiz-aktuell/
Wow! Sweet. Thanks a bunch. I’ll definitely check it out.
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Reblogged this on Swiss Club of Victoria and commented:
Damian’s Websurf on our homepage features an article about the Swiss TV show “Alpenfestung – Leben im Reduit” which was filmed at the Fortress of Fürigen. http://swissclubvic.wordpress.com/2009/03/01/schweiz-aktuell/
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