Back in 1940, the main obstacle facing the northern prong of the German attack on Belgium was the city of Liège, protected by a newly upgraded ring of 12 forts. The most formidable of these was Eben-Emael, 20 miles north-east of the city, which was designed to prevent a crossing of the River Meuse and the Albert Canal.
This vast triangular complex could house 1,200 men and was considered to be impregnable, with powerful weaponry, more than three miles of underground galleries and modern amenities such as dormitories, showers and a hospital. But in a masterstroke of military planning, about 80 German paratroopers neutralised the fort by floating on to the roof from gliders at first light on 10 May 1940 and thrusting hollow charges - a new form of high explosive which could melt armour-plating - into the ventilation shafts. Eben-Emael's guns were silenced within 15 mn, and the 650-strong garrison was forced to surrender after just 31 hours. The path was now clear for a full-scale German assault into Belgium...
The fort today
Eben-Emael still belongs to the Belgian Army and is open for public tours.
Its galleries include a museum focusing on the Albert Canal battle and featuring 1940s military material, uniforms, weapons.
- Car parking
- Cycle rack