What is the meaning of "it was to this" in the following sentence?

It was to this remote, impregnable fortress that Hitler, and a coterie of his most fanatical supporters, intended to retreat when the Wehrmacht was beaten.
-Catherine Bailey Fey's war-


This sentence is an example of a cleft sentence (it-cleft, precisely), where the writer has broken down one sentence into two parts, each with its own verb. The writer has opted for this construction for emphasis.

Of course the writer could simply have put it like this: Hitler, and a coterie of his most fanatical supporters, retreated to this place after the Wehrmacht was beaten. But the focus doesn't fall on the place of retreat.

You could read in detail about it-clefts here:


  • 2
    A good answer. I have just one reservation. It is obvious that the "impregnable fortress" has been described immediately before the quoted excerpt. The point of the clause being discussed is CONNECTIVE as much as emphatic. "It was to THIS" forms a link between a description of the Berghof and the point of it (the fact that it was the chosen base for Hitler and his inner circle). – Tuffy Jan 25 at 13:22
  • Thanks, @Tuffy. Good observation. I had this in mind while writing my answer, but forgot to put it in for some reason. – user405662 Jan 25 at 13:37

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