Molotov Line, Rava-Ruska Fortified Region, Poland
In 1939 Soviet aggression against Poland was a quick affair. The overwhelming superiority of the Soviet forces concentrated on the eastern border of Poland, coupled with an obvious fact that practically all the Polish army was fighting the German invasion in the west, resulted in a quick capture of almost half of the country. The partition of Poland between Nazi Germany and Soviet Russia was quickly confirmed by the victors in their Ribbentrop-Molotov pact signed on August 23rd 1939.
Formidable Soviet fortifications, known today as the Molotov Line, were built in occupied Poland, all along the "new" Soviet-German border. An interesting fact about these military installations is that none of the dozens of truly modern pillbox designs envisaged the use of armored cupolas. These, in turn, were quite popular on a few fortifications, which Poles managed to build before September 1939. There were plans to bolster the eastern defences of Poland but there was not enough time, and not much money, to do it before the Soviets attacked. Some of the already produced armored cupolas were captured by the advancing Red Army in Polish military stores, along with other booty.
Soviets engineers were quick to adapt some of their own pillbox designs to utilize these brand new captured equipment. A couple of dozens of them were hauled to Rava-Ruska Fortified Region (today in south-eastern Poland and south-western Ukraine) and the installation work began. Some of these cupolas saw fierce combat, most of them evaporated much later - falling prey to scrap collectors. Very few smaller ones survived till today.
And the history played an ironic trick here: just as the Poles did not manage to install them before the Soviet attack, their new owners did not manage to utilize most of their loot before the German onslaught cut through an unfinished Molotov Line in 1941.
Some of the pillboxes located in Rava-Ruska Fortified Region feature vertical shafts with simple ladders but armored cupolas never came. Germans came instead.
One such shaft in an unfinished antitank pillbox is featured on the photo.
After 75 years the only good thing is that it allows some light into the usually cold and dark belly of a forgotten concrete slab lost in the forest.