§803 German invasion in the west outflanking the Maginot Line (1940. 5-6): IV-80.

IV-80 (§803):

Near the grand river a grand pit, the earth warps,
On the fifteen sides the water shall be divided:
The city taken, fire, blood, cries, conflicts to start.
And the greater part of the principal cities have reference to the collision.

( Pres du grand fleuve grand fosse terre egeste,
En quinze pars sera l'eau divisee:
La cité prinse, feu, sang, crys, conflict mestre
Et la plus part concerne au collisee.)

NOTES: The grand river: = The River Meuse.

Fosse: « fosse f. Pit, hole (trou). » (Dubois). The term ‘fosse’ is different from ‘fossé (ditch)’.

A grand pit: = A big and deep pit installed with a vertically sliding turret, the main equipment of the strong points (forts) some 5 km apart from each other and communicated by underground railways, which constitute ensemble the so-called Maginot Line: « The actual forts, spaced, on average, 5 km apart, came in various sizes often depending on the terrain into which they had to be inserted. No two were ever the same, but they all consisted of the same basic elements in varying combinations. These elements were the ‘blocks’, which were the combat units, either artillery or infantry, which projected above the surface, and the entrance blocks at the rear. These were joined by an infrastructure of tunnels and were supported by underground barracks, magazines, generating plant and command posts. The subterranean parts were located at least 20 m below the surface, and, depending on the terrain, parts of a fort could be anything up to 90 m deep.» (Kemp, 1981, p.30-32); « The Maginot-type turrets were retractable, being raised into the firing position by heavy counter-weights. Lowered, they presented only mushroom shaped domes from which projectiles would be deflected. This meant that only guns with extremely short barrels could be fitted into turrets which were restricted to a diameter of 4 m. A grand total of 152 such retractable turrets were fitted into the Maginot Line.» (Kemp, 1981, p.41); « The main defensive line, known as the position de résistance consisted basically of two types of work – the casemate and the ouvrage. Technically, a casemate is a vaulted structure or chamber designed to house artillery, personnel or stores. The French used it to mean the small blockhouses situated between the main forts (ouvrages), which I will refer to as interval casemates [spaced 1,800m apart] » (Kemp, 1981, p.28; [p.31]).

This ‘grand pit’ of the quatrain refers to the « small infantry fort
LA FERTÉ (sur Chiers) » (Kemp, id., p.6-7), the utmost western edge, near the Meuse (somehow 6 km distant), of the Maginot Line extending eastward; « Maginot Line. The name given to the fortifications constructed in the period 1929-34 along the eastern frontier of France from Longwy (facing Luxembourg) to Switzerland. The fortifications were not continued along the Franco-Belgian frontier, because of Belgian objections and because a group of French strategists held that the Germans could not penetrate the Ardennes. In 1940 the Germans turned the Maginot Line by their thrust through Belgium and around Sedan. When France signed her armistice with Germany all the Maginot Line forts were intact, except for some outlying defences facing Saarbrücken. The last fort surrendered, unassailed, on June 30th.» (Palmer, p.174). Hogue tells in his commentary an interesting prophetico-historical episode about this quatrain (Hogue, 1997, p.359).

Egeste: = esgeste = esgette (it warps), the 3rd person of the indicative present singular of the verb « esgeter, v.a., déjeter; v.réfl., se jeter.» (Godefroy); « déjeter v.tr. To twist, to distort, to make awry; To warp (wood); to buckle (metal) – v.pr. Se déjeter, to grow crooked (or) awry, to become distorted (body); T
ECHN. To warp (wood); to buckle (metal).» (Dubois).
The form ‘egeste’(= égeste)’ and the form ‘esgeste’ are equivalent, because the French prefix « É- » is a modern form of « ES- » derived from the Latin « E or EX » (Petit Robert, s.v. É-) and the form “esgeste” for esgette is analogous to “mestre” for mettre of the third line.

The earth warps: This simple expression alludes to the unpromising traits of the terrain of the Ardennes; « In the Forest of Ardennes, whose culmination is about 700 meters above sea level, the roads were narrow and winding, the craggy valleys bushed and the land marshy in places.» (Moriyama, 1998, p.28-30); « The German invasion of the West opened with dramatic successes on the right flank, against key points in the defence of neutral Holland and Belgium. These strokes spearheaded by airborne troops focused the Allies’ attention there in such a way as to distract them for several days from the main thrust – which was being delivered in the centre, through the hilly and wooded country of the Ardennes [the earth warps], towards the heart of France... This breakthrough in Belgium was not the decisive stroke in the invasion of the West, but it had a vital effect on the issue. It not only drew the Allies’ attention in the wrong direction but absorbed the most mobile part of the Allied forces in the battle that developed there, so that these mobile divisions could not be pulled out and switched south to meet the greater menace that on May 13 suddenly loomed up on the French frontier – at its weakest part, beyond the western end [a grand pit] of the incomplete Maginot Line. For the mechanised spearheads of Rundstedt’s Army Group had meantime been driving through Luxemboug and Belgian Luxembourg towards France. After traversing that seventy-mile stretch of the Ardennes, and brushing aside weak opposition, they crossed the French frontier and emerged on the banks of the Meuse early on the fourth day of the offensive. It had been a bold venture to send a mass of tanks and motor-vehicles through such difficult country, which had long been regarded by conventional strategists as ‘impassable’ for a large-scale offensive, let alone for a tank operation. But that increased the chance of surprise, while the thick woods helped to cloak the advance and conceal the strength of the blow. The German advance through the Ardennes was a tricky operation, and an extraordinary feat of staffwork. Before dawn of May 10 the greatest concentration of tanks yet seen in war was massed opposite the frontier of Luxembourg. Made up of three panzer corps, these were arrayed in three blocks, or layers, with armoured divisions in the first two, and motorised infantry divisions in the third. The van was led by General Guderian, and the whole was commanded by General von Kleist. To the right of Kleist’s group lay a separate panzer corps, the 15th, under Hoth, which was to dash through the northern part of the Ardennes, to the Meuse between Givet and Dinant. The seven armoured divisions, however, formed only a fraction of the armed mass that was drawn up along the German frontier ready to plunge into the Ardennes. Some fifty divisions were closely packed on a narrow but very deep front. The chances of success essentially depended on the quickness with which the German panzer forces could push through the Ardennes and cross the Meuse. Only when they were across that river-barrier would the tanks have room for manœuvre. They needed to get across before the French High Command realised what was happening and collected reserves to stop them. The race was won, though with little margin. Guderian’s attack was concentrated on a one-and-a-half-mile stretch of the river just west of Sedan. The chosen sector provided a perfect setting for forcing a passage. The river bends sharply north towards St Menges and then south again, forming a pocket-like salient. The surrounding heights on the north bank are wooded, thus providing cover for attack preparations and gun-positions as well as fine artillery observation. From near St Menges there was a wonderful panoramic view over this river-salient, and across to the wooded heights of the Bois de Marfée which form the back-curtain on the far side.» (Hart, 1971, p.66-71).

The city taken, fire, blood, cries, conflicts to start: « The assault was launched at 4 p.m., led by the panzer infantry in rubber boats and on rafts. ferries were soon in operation, bringing light vehicles across. The river-salient was quickly overrun, and the attackers pressed on to capture the Bois de Marfée and the southern heights. By midnight the wedge was driven nearly five miles deep, while a bridge was completed at Glaire (between Sedan and St Menges) over which the tanks began to pour. Even so, the German foothold was still precarious on the 14th – with only one division yet across the river, and only one bridge by which reinforcements and supplies could reach it. The bridge was heavily attacked by the Allied air forces, which enjoyed a temporary advantage as the weight of the Luftwaffe had been switched elsewhere. But the anti-aircraft artillery regiment of Guderian’s corps kept a thick canopy of fire over the vital bridge, and Allied air attacks were beaten off with heavy loss [fire, blood, cries, conflicts to start]. By the afternoon all three of his divisions were over the river. After beating off a belated French counterattack, he made a sudden turn westward. By the following evening he had broken through the last line of defence, and the roads to the west – to the Channel coast – lay open to him. The westward drive of Guderian’s three panzer divisions converged with that of Reinhardt’s two divisions from the Monthermé crossing, and also with those of Hoth’s two divisions from the crossing near Dinant. It produced a spreading collapse of French resistance, and swept through an empty space. By the night of the 16th the westward drive had gone more than fifty miles farther, towards the Channel...» (Hart, 1971, p.71-72); « Astonishingly, the French artillery, which had a great concentration of German vehicles and men to aim at, had been ordered to limit their fire, to save ammunition. The divisional commander had expected the Germans to take another two days to bring up their own field guns before crossing the river. He still had not realized that the Stukas were now the flying artillery of the panzer spearheads, and the Stukas attacked his gun positions with remarkable accuracy. As the town of Sedan burned furiously from heavy shelling and bombing, the Germans rushed the river in their heavy rubber assault boats, paddling furiously. They suffered many casualties, but eventually assault pioneers were across and attacking the concrete bunkers with flamethrowers and satchel charges. As dusk was falling, a wild rumour spread among the terrorized French reservists that enemy tanks were already across the river and that they were about to be cut off. Communications between units and commanders had virtually collapsed as a result of the bombs severing field telephone lines. First the French artillery, then the divisional commander himself, began to retreat... The fall of Sedan [The city taken], with all its echoes of Napoleon III’s surrender in 1870, struck horror into the hearts of French commanders...»
(Beevor, 2012, p.90-91).

Pars: = Sides; « part, pl. parz, pars; sf.:part, parti, côté (part, side).»

On the fifteen sides the water shall be divided: Namely, the water (river or canal) shall be cut through (crossed) on the 15 sides by the German troops invading France in the end as follows: the River Semoy (11 May 1940), the Albert Canal (11 May), the Meuse (13 May), the Dyle (16 May), the Sambre (21 May), the Aisne (22 May), the Scheldt (23 May), the Aa (26 May), the Somme (5 June), the Seine (10 June), the Marne (12 June), the Rhine (14 June), the Saône (16 June), the Loire (19 June) and the Rhône (20 June) (cf. Argyle, 1980, p.26-34 with the Chart ‘Campaign in the West May-June 1940’ and ‘Battle of France and Vichy 1940’).

Concerner: « Concerner (intrans.). Se rapporter [à] (to have reference [to]). – Il neglige ... ce qui concerne à hilarement et jucondement vivre (He neglects ... what has reference to living merrily and comfortably). 
LUC DE LA PORTE, trad. d’HORACE, Odes, III, 19.» (Huguet).

Collisee: = The arranged form of collision to rhyme with ‘divisee’ of the second verse. Cf. « Collisible. Qui se heurte (that which collides).» (Huguet).

The greater part: = the most part of the principal cities of France, ‘principal cities of France’ being suggested by the presence of the word ‘the city taken (la cité prinse)’ of the third verse, which refers to Sedan, the symbol of the German decisive breakthrough into the heart of France: « PMAY 15 [1940] Home Front: France - PANIC IN PARIS on reports of German breakthrough at Sedan. Many thousands of civilians leave city; Government departments burn secret files; Premier Reynaud telephones Churchill: ‘We are beaten; we have lost the battle!’» (Argyle, 1980, p.28).

The greater part of the principal cities have reference to the collision
: They are listed as follows (date of capture): Sedan and Monthermé (13 May); Peronne and Cambrai (18 May); St Quentin (19 May); Amiens, Abbéville, Noyelles and Laon (20 May); Arras (21 May); Gravelines and Maubeuge (24 May); Boulogne (25 May); Calais (26 May); Ypres and Lille (29 May); Dunkirk (4 June); Rouen (9 June); Rheims (12 June); Le Havre (13 June); Paris (14 June); Verdun (15 June); Dijon and Besançon (16 June); « JUNE 18 – Rommel captures Cherbourg; 5th Pz Div. captures Brest. All large French towns to be surrendered without resistance.»; Rennes (18 June); Lyons (20 June); JUNE 22 – Armistice between France and Germany signed at Compiègne (cf. Argyle, 1980, p.28-35; Hart, 1971, p.64).

The interpretation of the first hemistich by Dr. Fontbrune (1939, p.178-179), followed by Boswell (1941, p.203-204), Lamont (1944, p.189), Robb (1961a, p.127-129), Ionescu (1976, p.494-495), Fontbrune (1980, p.291-292), Dufresne (1994, p.214-215), Hogue (1997, p.359-360) and Halley (1999, p.160), is utterly faulty, only except having featured the Maginot Line, for,

1° The French word ‘fosse (a pit, a hole)’ is not identical with ‘fossé (a ditch, a trench)’, the latter signifying the whole extension of the Maginot Line, whereas the former only its pointlike unit or extremity.

2° Therefore, the phrase ‘grand fosse pres du grand fleuve (a grand pit near the grand river)’ geographically leads us to the option of the Meuse to the prejudice of the Rhine, for only the Meuse can call for the western end of the Maginot Line as its nearest one.

3° The French word ‘egeste’ is not to be immediately derived from the Latin ‘egestus, a, um (carried out, born away)’, as they pretend to do so, but itself a conjugational form of the authentic existent French verbe ‘esgeter (to twist, to bend)’.

4° Then, the phrase ‘terre egeste (the earth bends)’ can depict the traits of the Forest of Ardennes, which is also near the Meuse as the text predicts, while their interpretation forged from a Latin word ‘terre egeste (the concaved earth)’ is only a useless tautology of ‘fosse or fossé’.

5° Dr. Fontbrune illustrates ‘the Maginot Line in the 15 hydrographic segments’ (p.178), copied faithfully by Robb (p.128) and Ionescu (p.494), but, astonishingly, the northern five segments of it do not correspond to any of the real Maginot Line (cf. Hart, 1971, p.64; Argyle, 1980, p.27 and p.32; Sommerville, 2008, p.36), which corresponds only to his other ten segments.

6° Moreover, the interpretation of ‘the Maginot Line in the 15 hydrographic segments’ is forced to come into existence through an extremely ungrammatical reading of the text: “
En quinze pars sera l'eau divisee (On the fifteen sides the water shall be divided)”: « Literally, “The water will be divided into fifteen sections,” but the sentence order in the French is inverted and the “de” (by) elided. Obviously it is the trench (near the river) which is divided, as one would not divide the river into sections by a trench, but vice versa.» (Robb, 1961a, p.127).

7° Robb’s paradox is to be eluded and through a closer consultation of French dictionaries, one can find the meaning of the French word ‘
part’ not as ‘part, parti (a part, a segment)’, but as ‘côté (side, direction)’, and its plural form as ‘parz or pars (sides, directions)’ (Daele), which can give us a reasonable reading of the text of Nostradamus.

8° The interpretation by Luni seems to come to the point in its essence: « Allemands et Alliés se disputeront les fleuves et les rivières à de multiples endroits (The Germans and the Allies shall dispute the rivers with each other at various sites) (Marne, Meuse, Somme, Oise, Escaut, Moselle, Aisne).» (Luni, 1998, p.211).

© Koji Nihei Daijyo, 2019. All rights reserved. 


Koji Nihei Daijyo

Author:Koji Nihei Daijyo
We have covered 143 quatrains (§588-§730) concerning the World Events in the 19th century after Napoleonic ages [1821-1900] in the Prophecies of Nostradamus, and 218 in the 20th [1901-2000] (§731-§948).

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