Vieil Armand or Hartmannswillerkopf

World War One Memorials in Alsace

Well preserved German World War One trenches at Vieil Armand in Alsace

One of the lesser known World War One memorials where I do World War tours is Hartmannswillerkopf also known as "Vieil Armand" and "HWK" or "HK"

It was a World War One battlefield in Alsace. It's unique because it's one of the very few World War One memorials and battlefields in the mountains.

So this site is not for the faint of heart or better put the "weak legged" ; )

You'll be doing a bit of hiking here and when I say "a bit" I mean a few hours minimum and a good bit uphill, so be prepared!



What Happened at Hartmannswillerkopf?


At Hartmannswillerkopf (or Vieil Armand) there is a pretty good view of Alsace and the surrounding area.

The French set themselves up at Hartmannswillerkopf so that they could keep track of what the Germans were up to.

Of course so did the Germans.

Remember that Alsace at the time was part of Germany so the Vosges mountain range was the France-Germany border then.

And the Germans wanted to see what the French were up to as well so.

That's when it turned into a fight for the summit on December 30, 1914.

For most of 1915 the French and the Germans attempted to take over the mountain.

And they both succeeded.

Except that when the French managed to push the Germans back, the Germans would then somehow manage to push the French back to where they were before.

And vice versa.

And this continued throughout 1915.

January 8, 1916 was the last major attempt to take the summit of Hartmannswillerkopf.

After that, the battle front in Alsace didn't move much.

Both sides continued to attack the other side but only with grenades, shells, and machine guns...

There were no more men charging into no man's land for the next three years which did a lot to keep down the death tolls.

Of course thousands of men died here, although a lot less than certain unverifiable sources say.



Hiking around Hartmannswillerkopf


This is one of the few WW1 memorials in the mountains, so wear your hiking shoes and wear clothing that will cover your legs.

Especially in the summer...

They do cut back some of the plants growing naturally around the trenches but it just grows back.

It's not particularly fun to visit after a lot of rain either. Those trenches were really muddy during the war and they still are when it rains!

Bring a packed lunch with you and eat it wherever you want and whenever you want.

There's not much choice for food and drink up there.


The entrance to Vieil Armand or Hartmannswillerkopf World War One memorial in Alsace

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