Bitche ( ) is a commune in the Moselle department in Lorraine in
It is known for its large citadel
surrounding territory is known as le Pays de Bitche
French and Bitscherland
located near the German border on the Orne, at the foot of the northern slope of the Vosges between
Haguenau and Sarreguemines, about south of Landstuhl, Germany.
Sites and history
There is a Roman Catholic and a Protestant church, a classical
school and an academy of forestry. The town of Bitche, which was
formed of the villages of Rohr and Kaltenhausen in the 17th
century, derives its name from the old stronghold (mentioned in
1172 as Bytis Castrum
) standing on a rock some 80 m. above
the town. This had long given its name to the countship of Bitsch,
which was originally in the possession of the dukes of Lorraine
. In 1297 it passed by
marriage to Eberhard I of
, whose line became extinct in 1569, when the
countship reverted to Lorraine. It passed with that duchy to France
After that date the town rapidly increased in population. The
citadel, which had been constructed by Vauban
on the site of the old castle after the capture of Bitche by the
French in 1624, had been destroyed when it was restored to Lorraine
in 1698. This was restored and strengthened in 1740 into a fortress
that proved impregnable in all succeeding wars. The attack upon it
by the Prussians
in 1793 was repulsed; in
1815 they had to be content with blockading it; and in 1870, though
it was closely invested by the Germans after the battle of Worth
, it held out until the end
of the war. A large part of the fortification is excavated in the
red sandstone rock, and was rendered bomb-proof; a supply of water
was secured to the garrison by a deep well in the interior.
The town is near the Maginot Line
which the citadel was integrated.
In March 1945 the U.S.
100th Infantry Division
broke through the Maginot Line in the Bitche area and liberated the
town, which had been occupied by German troops.
been twinned with Lebach, Saarland, Germany since
The town of Bitche was mentioned in BBC
panel game QI
, in episode 9 of season 3 (or
series "C", as the show refers to the series by letters of the
commented on the comical nature of seeing a sign "You
are now leaving Bitche".