Fort Eben-Emal : a fatal soccer game

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The soldiers met regularly to play soccer. They tried to entertain themselves between battles, but the game turned into a nightmare.

The first stronghold to fall victim to the German invasion of 1940, Fort Eben-Emael was reputed to be impregnable. Therefore, it was considered the first stronghold of Belgium. Furthermore, its armament and its position prevented any conventional assault.

The German army had to think of a new strategy to seize this crucial fortress from then on. Finally, the solution was offered to them by the Allied soldiers themselves. Indeed, as in all the forts, the soldiers met regularly to play soccer. They tried to entertain themselves between battles by kicking the ball around on improvised fields. The problem? These wide, flat spaces unintentionally became perfect landing strips for German gliders, while all the other surrounding plains were riddled with defensive mines; these were safe. The precision and speed of the landings made the Belgian counter-attack impossible. Attempts at resistance were immediately countered. The capture of Fort Eben-Emael became a crucial moment in the world conflict. The loss of this fort marked Belgium’s entry into the war and the beginning of the 18-day campaign by the Germans to invade Belgium in May 1940).

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