(English: The Dome), also known as the Coupole d'Helfaut-Wizernes
is a Second World War
bunker complex in the Pas-de-Calais départment
of northern France
, about 5 kilometres (3.1 mi) from Saint-Omer
. It was built by the forces of Nazi Germany
between 1943 and 1944 to serve as a launch base for V-2 rockets
directed against London and southern England.
Constructed in the side of a disused chalk quarry, the most prominent feature of the complex is an immense concrete dome, to which its modern name refers. It was built above a network of tunnels housing storage areas, launch facilities and crew quarters. The facility was designed to store a large stockpile of V-2s, warheads and fuel and was intended to launch V-2s on an industrial scale. Dozens of missiles a day were to be fuelled, prepared and launched in rapid sequence against London and southern England.
However, after repeated heavy bombing by Allied forces during Operation Crossbow, the Germans were unable to complete the construction works and the complex never entered service. It remained derelict until the mid-1990s. In 1997 it opened to the public for the first time, as a museum. Exhibits in the tunnels and under the dome tell the story of the German occupation of France during World War II, the V-weapons and the history of space exploration.
Joan of Arc
, nicknamed "The Maid of Orléans
" (French: La Pucelle d'Orléans
), is a folk heroine
of France and a Roman Catholic saint
. She was born a peasant
girl in what is now eastern France. Claiming divine guidance, she led the French army to several important victories during the Hundred Years' War
, which paved the way for the coronation of Charles VII of France
. She was captured by the Burgundians
, transferred to the English in exchange for money, put on trial by the pro-English Bishop of Beauvais Pierre Cauchon
for charges of "insubordination and heterodoxy", and was burned at the stake
when she was 19 years old.
Twenty-five years after her execution, an inquisitorial court authorized by Pope Callixtus III examined the trial, pronounced her innocent, and declared her a martyr. Joan of Arc was beatified in 1909 and canonized in 1920. She is – along with St. Denis, St. Martin of Tours, St. Louis IX, and St. Theresa of Lisieux – one of the patron saints of France. Joan said that she had visions from God that instructed her to recover her homeland from English domination late in the Hundred Years' War. The uncrowned King Charles VII sent her to the siege of Orléans as part of a relief mission. She gained prominence when she overcame the dismissive attitude of veteran commanders and lifted the siege in only nine days. Several additional swift victories led to Charles VII's coronation at Reims.
To the present day, Joan of Arc has remained a significant figure in Western civilization.