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Toblerone Line, a sweet monument to Swiss wartime defences

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Just outside of Geneva, more precisely in Gland, there are two rather unsual houses named Villa Verte and Villa Rose. Both of these structures are technically houses, but they’re not for people, as they house something entirely different: weaponry.

During World War II Switzerland was in a uniquely tough spot amidst surrounded by Axis powers – Germany, Austria, Italy and occupied France.
Having taken in civilian refugees and witnessed previous confrontations between France and Germany, Switzerland was justifiably concerned about the rise of the Third Reich and a possible invasion.
Thus they worked to avoid it.
Some of their means of doing so, like allowing use of their railroad system connecting Italy to Germany, were controversial while others, like the so-called Toblerone Line, were less so, and it isn’t about bribing the enemy with popular swiss chocolate, no matter how tasty.
Actually, Swiss Army created the Promenthouse Line, which still exists today, but under a much sweeter name: the Toblerone Line, a 10 km (6 mile) series of fortifications that runs across the canton of Vaud from Lac Leman to the top of the Jura mountains, between Bassins and Prangins.
A long trail of anti-tank defenses, it consisted of 12 fortresses linked by miles of cement wedges known as “dragon’s teeth”, and out of those twelve, two were designed to look like houses. Named for their respective shades of exterior paint, Villa Rose and Villa Verte are two of 100+ so-called “false chalets” scattered all over Switzerland. Their innocuous exteriors would have fooled any invading troops.
Completed in 1940, the houses were part of Switzerland’s World War II strategy: neutrality, backed by elaborate plans to defend itself in the event of attack.
The most well known, “Villa Rose” was transformed into a museum and opened to the public in 2006.
The fortification looks like a harmless two-story home but, instead of a harmless family lounging inside, it held massive guns. The large green garage door could open to reveal two huge cannons which were assisted by a third hidden behind the shutters of a ground floor window.
The whole thing was made of 2.5-meter thick cement walls which were painted pink, apparently in an effort to make the fort seem even more harmless, and there are even false windows on the second floor simply painted on the concrete. No part of each villa was left unfortified – even the toilet had a hole in the wall through which hand grenades could be thrown. Its companion fortress along the Toblerone Line, the Villa Vert, was a similarly disguised battlement that was painted green. The villas were positioned to defend both the main road from Geneva to Lausanne and the Promenthouse-Sérine river valley against an attack from the west – what was eventually occupied France.

In any case, running from the mountains to Lake Geneva, the line was more of an inconvenience than a wall. The 16-ton hunks of concrete presented an impassable obstacle for tanks, but could easily be destroyed by explosive ordnance.
Luckily the defenses never needed to be tested, and the trail of stone teeth remains proudly still today.
Despite there have been motions to dismantle the defensive line, it still survives, albeit by a different name. In fact, thanks to its resemblance to the distinctive Swiss chocolate bar Toblerone, the increasingly moss-covered dragon’s teeth have taken name that’s left.

Images from web – Google Research

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