In 1944, as the Allies were moving in towards Modane, the Germans tried to destroy the railway tunnel, which was an important connection to nearby Italy. During the detonation, this blockhouse lifted and landed intact 98 feet away from its original location.
We visited the leaning house today.
As we walked around it, we talked of how it got to be so far from the train tunnel, which you can see down the road. What did that sound like that day? How did it echo off the mountains? What happened to the things inside the building?
And what was the reaction of the first German soldier who realized the building was merely relocated instead of destroyed?
My guess was he then turned to his ordnance troop and yelled, “You had ONE job, Karl! ONE JOB!”
That got a laugh from Miss C.
The house is tilted at two angles, and one‘s balance is really thrown off walking inside. Miss C said she got a headache after awhile. It‘s the most-visited monument in Modane, and perhaps the most decorated. The graffiti is pretty interesting!
After lunch, we visited the Modane history museum. Once the railroad tunnel was built in the 1870s, this city became the gateway for Italians heading to America.
An immigration officer and his wife became the main travel agents, so to speak, helping Italians secure passage to New York City from the border town in the Alps. Also, this became a military town with lots of young men, meaning lots of saloons and dance halls, so there were a lot of player pianos around town.
And my favorite tidbit … most of the photos in the museum were taken by French soldiers stationed there. One in particular was very prolific, documenting his days with photos and his diary. I didn’t get his name, but I was amused to find this photo of soldiers pulling a sled.
“Probably a soldier with a dislocated shoulder?” I suggested. Martin was mildly amused. Haha!