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“Festung Brünn”: Remote sensing and spatial analysis of German World War 2 field fortification

In recent years, several trenches of overall length 400 metres were unearthed on three sites dur-ing rescue excavations at the outskirts of Brno, Czech Republic. These trenches represent a small part of a German field fortification system. Brno was turned into “unconquerable” “Festung Brünn” (the Brno Fortress) during last months of World War 2. However, precise information about this fortification is scarce. It isn’t known how many trenches were dug or how sophisticat-ed the defenses were. Archaeological investigation, principally remote sensing techniques, are helping to answer to these questions. First, we need to reconstruct as much of “Festung Brünn” as possible. To this end, we have to applied non-invasive digital survey techniques. The most important method is the remote sensing. LiDAR and modern aerial images depict the preserved trenches, although the highest number of trenches is visible in the historical aerial photographs. We have combined all this data to digitally reconstruct this large fortified area. The survey started in close proximity to known sites which confirmed the value of the remote sensing data. Then, the survey was extended to cover the whole area around Brno. Additionally, the spatial analysis helped us to determine the combat value of the trenches (line of sight, which direction was supposed to defend). Understanding these trenches gives new insight into organisation of last desperate defense of the German army. Despite the war being lost, the Germans managed to fortify large areas around Brno. As we shall demonstrate, this fortification was sophisticated and ingeniously prepared.