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Metz, France

Metz is a city in northeast France and capital of the Lorraine region. The city lies at the juncture of the Moselle and Seille rivers and has a rich 3,000 year old history in which it has had great importance as a military outpost and crossroads dating back to the Romans who first fortified it. The name Metz is derived from the Latin word Mediomatrica.

The city was returned to the French under the Treaty of Versailles in 1919, having previously been captured by the Germans in the Franco-Prussian War of 1870-71. When France fell to Germany in 1940 the city was annexed to the Third Reich. After the Allied invasion of France, Metz with its heavy fortifications, became an important focal point for the Germans to mount a defense to contain the advancing US Third Army and buy time for an organized withdrawal to the Saar region. The battle for Metz lasted from September until the end of November 1944, and both sides suffered heavy casualties. The last isolated forts of Metz did not surrender until well into December 1944.

Temple Neuf

While under German rule in 1901, work began on a Protestant church on the banks of an island on the Moselle River. The beautiful Temple Neuf was built by architect Conrad Wahn and inaugurated in 1904 by King Wilhelm II and his wife Auguste Viktoria. Its Neo-Romanesque styling was typical of many Protestant churches built across Germany in the early 20th Century, but some in Metz thought the style to be an affront to the architectural harmony of the city, as many of the surrounding buildings are of the French classical style. Despite this, the Temple Neuf is a unique and treasured landmark of Metz.

Aux Morts De Le Guerre

Located at the Place Gallieni in Metz is a memorial to fallen soldiers of World War I. Sculpted by Paul Niclausse and inaugurated in 1935, this monument depicts a mother with the naked body of her dead son across her knees. On the base of this secular pieta is engraved Aux Morts De Le Guerre, or "To The War Dead". After the German occupation of France in 1940, two large bas-relief figures of French soldiers flanking the statue, another bas-relief on a large slab above the statue and an inscription were removed by the Germans.

Fountain at the Esplanade of Metz

Located in the western district of Metz Centre is the Esplanade de Metz, a large garden area situated between the 18th century Palais de Justice (Law Courts) of Metz and the Basilica of St. Peter in Nonnaines. The 9,000 square meter garden is situated on what used to the be the citadel's moat and offers a panoramic view of the Saint-Quentin plateau. The garden hosted a World's Fair in 1861 and was redesigned in 1967 with the addition of a parking garage underneath the garden. The fountain pictured here lies at the northwest end of the garden.

Small Gauge Rail in Metz

A network of two-foot gauge railways were used to rearm and resupply the many fortresses of Metz from supply depots up to 30 miles away. These mini locomotives were gas powered and armored. A similar system of small gauge steam engines were used for the same purpose in the First World War.