The Franco-Belgian Accord, which lasted from 1920 until October 1936 when Belgium declared itself neutral, included an article which 'discussed greater integration of frontier defenses' (according to Wikipedia).

The Maginot line was started in 1929 and covered only the France-Germany border. The Ardennes forest was considered impenetrable and was thus not protected.

The reasons why the French didn't extend the line (initially at least) along the France-Belgium border are clear enough (they didn't want to offend their allies the Belgians). The belief was that the French army could defend the shorter (non-Maginot) area, but this seems to be contradicted by the extension of the line after the Franco-Belgian accord fell apart (though the extended section was not of the same strength as the original section).

Prior to Belgium's withdrawal from the accord, was there ever a plan to extend the line along the Belgium-Netherlands border as part of the aforementioned discussion of 'greater integration of frontier defenses'? If not, was this because of the cost? Or was it because the Belgians (especially the Flemish population) didn't want too much French influence? Or was it because the Belgians didn't want to offend the Dutch? Or perhaps a combination of all three?


2 Answers 2


Despite the Franco-Belgian accord of 1920, the Belgians were skittish about becoming too dependent on, or becoming a protectorate of France. Basically, they wanted a "balanced" relationship with both France and Germany, barely "tilting" toward France.

By 1936, Belgium "thought better" of the above accord, backed off on its provisions, declared its on neutrality, and made its own (leaky) arrangements with Germany.

  • There seems to have been some rather muddled thinking by the Belgians here. They were neutral at outset of WWI and were invaded. What made them think that the (relatively) near future would be any different, especially with the Maginot line along the Franco-German border? Sep 21, 2017 at 5:39
  • 1
    @LarsBosteen The end of WWI left Germany only a very small army (due to the Treaty of Versailles restrictions) and in the middle of grave internal conflicts. At that time they simply were not a threat to anyone, while as a victor France remained a powerful country. And it is not as if France had never invaded Belgium.
    – SJuan76
    Sep 21, 2017 at 8:32
  • 1
    @ SJuan76 Point taken concerning past French invasions of Belgium, but Germany re-militarized the Rhineland in March 1936. According to Wikipedia (en.wikipedia.org/wiki/German_re-armament), by 1935 Hitler was open about not following the re-armament restrictions of the Treaty of Versailles. Belgium goes neutral just at the time that Europe is made aware that Hitler has trebled the size of the German army. Sep 21, 2017 at 9:35

There is also another reason. Relations between The Netherlands and Belgium were not exactly friendly after the Belgian revolt until the end of WW2(!). Belgium wanted even to annex Zeeuws Vlaanderen, North Brabant and Limburg after WW1. These tensions led to the founding and rise of the NSB party (Dutch Quislings).

Extending the Magniot Line up to the Dutch border would not be something the Dutch government wanted to see. Given the expense of the fortifications, the political problems north (The Netherlands) and east (Germany) more reasons for France not to extend it.

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge that you have read and understand our privacy policy and code of conduct.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.