The Füherhauptquartier Wolfsschlucht 2 is known for its enormous variety of bunker designs. There are local designs for machine gun turrets and plates and one can discover Luftwaffe Regelbauten never built anywhere else. A not so rare Luftwaffe design is the L 410, a command bunker for small Flak batteries. However near Margival this type was built ten times on only 9 km²!

L 410 locations near Margival.

L 410 locations near Margival.

And not only was the type built a lot of times, they were also heavily equipped with communication devices. You will find L 410s here with a Festungsvermittlung zu 30 Ltn, the large telephone exchanges for 30 lines, which you will normally find in large command bunkers (117, 608) along the Atlantikwall. Some boost four Festungsfernsprecher in a row, which really shows the importance given to these small Flak batteries. (According to Rhode and Sünkel in their book Wolfsschlucht 2, Autopsie eines Führerhauptquartiers, 21 light Flak batteries were built around the headquarters!)

L 410 (Vx 436) of Flakstellung 8 had a Festungsvermittlung zu 30 Ltn. (Photo: 2008, Arthur van Beveren)

L 410 (Vx 436) of Flakstellung 8 had a Festungsvermittlung zu 30 Ltn. (Photo: 2008, Arthur van Beveren)

A Festungsvermittlung zu 30 Ltn. with two battery boxes and fusebox. (Photo: 2004, Arthur van Beveren)

A Festungsvermittlung zu 30 Ltn. with two battery boxes and fusebox. (Photo: 2004, Arthur van Beveren)

Normally an L 410 has a Flak emplacement on top and in the Atlantikwall it was usually built with two Flak/Crew bunkers like the L 409A. Around Margival you’ll find most L 410s without emplacement on top. Three either early square shaped open emplacements or later war L 2 emplacements formed the actual battery and the L 410 really served as an HQ.

L 410 (Vx 436) of Flakstellung 8. No emplacement on top. (Photo: 2008, Arthur van Beveren)

L 410 (Vx 436) of Flakstellung 8. No emplacement on top. (Photo: 2008, Arthur van Beveren)

Of the ten L 410s, seven are accessible and six are on the website. We’re still updating our old 2002 and 2003 images with newer ones, so stay tuned.

Alberto Tabone contacted me about a project he has been working on and is now released to the public. A DVD series about fortifications, starting with the fortified island of Alderney.

I asked Alberto a couple of questions about his project and his love for Alderney.

You’re an Italian, how did you end up in Alderney?

I am Italian but I currently live in the UK. I have always had a passion for fortifications, especially bunkers and coastal batteries, since the age of 14. The first coastal battery I visited was in Italy and had been used and modified by the Germans with the building of a double Schartenstand over the existing emplacements, and had seen a lot of action during WWII. I was totally fascinated, to be there and see the remains of fortified combat after so many years. Since then I have explored many other fortifications, and given my profession (I come from TV and multimedia production) I always thought that I could make a documentary on fortifications and that it would work well. I also had an urge to ‘fix’ the bunkers on video, before they were erased from memory. So last year I decided to push the idea with TV broadcasters, and being in the UK and knowing about the Channel Islands’ fortifications, I thought they would make a suitable subject for a UK audience. When I started researching more in detail, I soon came to the conclusion that Alderney offered more compared to Guernsey and Jersey, both in terms of ‘genuine’ abandoned fortifications to show, and in terms of unique and less known history. I also realised that the historical heritage with forts and bunkers on this island was worth an international awareness. Alderney is just amazing for a fortification enthusiast like me, and it absolutely fitted the bill when I decided that I was going to do a series just on fortified islands, hence the title ‘Battleship Islands’.

Tell me a little bit about the documentary, what can the viewer expect?

The documentary, which is feature-length at 87 minutes, has been scripted and ‘designed’ to satisfy as wide an audience as possible. That means that it contains enough technical and historical detail for the bunker-passionate but not so much to alienate the less knowledgeable public. It is made in the style of modern British TV, with a first-person approach and a strong narrative, with me presenting and exploring the bunkers and practically taking the viewer with me. It isn’t the typical ‘academic’ documentary with tons of archive footage and a patronising voice-over – although there is plenty of rare colour footage from the war, as well as some rare samples inside and outside bunkers. It’s more ‘hey-ho-let’s-go’ and the viewer at the end will feel like they have been on the island visiting most places like I have. There is however plenty of technical information, some delivered using 2D animations, and some clever now-and-then effects using old pictures, which kind of works like a time machine – something I would love to have!

Finally, I have used some music tracks from famous artists, to give more of a ‘human soul’ to what many people otherwise regard as ‘old concrete’. The documentary has a ‘travel’ slant to it, like for instance an interactive map on the DVD, so it is also an excellent introduction to Alderney for those who are planning to visit the island, or for those who just like to ‘travel from the armchair’.

The documentary is technically and historically accurate (apart from a minor mistake), and is the result of a very extensive research.

At the end of the documentary the viewers, be they bunker experts or the general public, will feel like they have learnt and seen quite a bit and certainly like they just stepped off from a trip to Alderney, hopefully an enjoyable one!

What do you think is so special about Alderney and its defences?

I think this question is very well answered in my documentary, so go and buy a copy to find out! 😉

Joking apart, and without spoiling the story too much, there are many reasons why I (and many others) think that Alderney is special by itself and for the fortifications, and they are all shown on the documentary.

First of all it is a beautiful small island, with a very unique and slightly ‘wild’ character.

Secondly, it has an amazing history: it was inhabited by the Romans, then by the Normans, then it was a fortified base during Victorian times (and plenty of interesting traces there!), then occupied by the Germans (and you will see the extent of that), with also a dramatic and dark aspect to its fortifications that many simply do not know, neither did I until last year, and it was also involved in the Normandy campaign in 1944, something else that not many people know. There are many more fascinating aspects about Alderney’s history that are dealt with in the documentary, as well as the reasons why Alderney was so heavily defended.

Thirdly, it is perhaps the only place that offers so many remains of fortifications from so many different eras, and many left as they were when they were abandoned. For example, in some places you still see the original wood planks lining the machine gun pits from 1945!!! I have seen many bunkers from WWII, but unfortunately so many now are either reduced to their bare concrete, or even rubble, spoiled by the weather or by vandals, or converted to civilian use, that they lose the original ‘feel’ and impact from a true war relic. Others have been restored, and personally I find them less fascinating. Alderney on the other hand, offers loads of fortifications left as they were in 1945 (or earlier), it really is like going back in time. There is so much on Alderney that I struggled to keep the documentary to under 1.5 hours, and I still have plenty of unused footage left over!

How did you prepare the documentary, who did you talk to/interview for it?

Well, first of all I have a knowledge coming from decades of passion for and study on fortifications. Then of course I read many (if not all) books on the Channel Islands’ fortifications and especially on Alderney. I then scoured the Internet and gradually wrote the backbone of the script as I was ‘remotely’ discovering the island. I did a lot of planning and cross-checking and I went twice to film, as the first time many things were new to me and there simply wasn’t enough time to record them all. Going there again allowed me to expand and refine the content and complete the script.

I soon got in touch and became friends with Trevor Davenport, who is the island’s main expert on fortifications, and he is widely featured and interviewed on the documentary, guiding us and talking about the various defences. He is actually seen more often than me! There is also an interview with Louis Jean, a native who also has a very interesting collection indeed!

What’s your favourite place on the island?

To be honest I don’t have a clear favourite, all of the island is very dear to me and all its fortifications have something interesting or particular. If I really must make a single choice I’d say Stutzpunkt Sudhafen, which is on the cliffs of the southern coast. The views from there are just spectacular, and I was lucky to be there on a beautiful day. I didn’t actually explore all of it, as it can be dangerous due to the steep cliffs (there’s a searchlight bunker that is excavated INSIDE the cliff’s double edge), and some of it is hard to explore underground due to entrances becoming obstructed, but the bunker for the 10.5cm gun is in very good shape (it is shown as a good example in the documentary), and generally the stronghold offers a good mix of fortifications and beautiful views, with a very peaceful atmosphere. There are of course other places that I really like, like Fort Albert, Fort Grosnez (not open to the public), Fort Doyle, Battery Annes, Stuzpunkt Biberkopf (probably the most interesting bunker complex), the Nunnery, Longis Lines, and all featured in the documentary, but perhaps I would make a special mention of Fort Houmet Herbé, which is an abandoned Victorian fort on a tiny islet (not used by the Germans), which is cut off during high tide. It is a beautifully shaped fort, in good condition and with some surprising remains, and visiting it is a must just for the experience.

Are you planning on more documentaries about the Atlantikwall?

Well, this is supposed to be the first episode of a series on fortified islands, so it isn’t necessarily going to be about the Atlantic Wall all the time. There are indeed a few islands, related to the Atlantic Wall, that are on my list of likely candidates for future episodes, but a lot depends on their current state and the actual useable content that I can make out of them. I think it’s more likely that you will see the next episodes of this series further away from the Channel Islands and possibly in places not related to the AtlantikWall. This series is entirely and solely my effort, there is no big business or external money funding this, and I am not a rich person, so the future of the series depends heavily on the success and sales of the first episode, as well as my future ability to set aside time and resources to this project. I have every intention to complete it with at least five more islands (six in total), and I do have a very interesting and varied list, but it doesn’t just depend on my goodwill. Suggestions from viewers about likely places are very welcome, and frankly I would do every single fortified island in the world if I could, if not more, but making a documentary is an expensive and time-consuming business, so hard choices will have to be made. That’s unless I win the lottery! 😉

I do have plans to somehow broadcast Alderney or future episodes on television (even just local ones), but it is very complicated, both from a technical and marketing point of view, so it’s possible it may only be on DVD in its current form, we’ll see. That’s why for now it is only a Limited First Edition, and I don’t think I will ever do a re-print, so my DVD on Alderney could become a collector’s item.

Every contribution to this series, be it the purchase of a DVD or simply spreading a good word or providing valuable information, is a step forward in making the next one. I do hope you will buy the DVD (it is available on most Amazon European websites), and I am confident that you will enjoy it.

Thanks Alberto and good luck with your future projects!

More information on the DVD including a trailer and where to buy can be found on the website .

Battleship Islands DVD

Battleship Islands DVD

The Belgian/French bunker research group Belfra has released some PDFs on their finds about the different Tobruk types. I host the English translations as a mirror to the forum

Have fun with these docs and thanks to the Belfra group. Also take a look at for discussions on the findings.

This page will be updated with new documents so you can bookmark this page.

Regelbau L 479 Part 1 (English)

Regelbau L 479 Part 2 (English)

The Tobrouk and its evolution Part 1 Vf 8 (English)

The Tobrouk and its evolution Part 2 Bauform 58c (English)

The Tobrouk and its evolution part 3 The Bf 58d (English)

The Tobrouk and its evolution Part 4 From the 58a to the 58f (English)

Feldflugplatz Coquelles Part 1 (English)

Want to know what type exactly this Tobruk at La Rochelle is? Read the documents. ;) (Photo: Henk Adriaanse for

Want to know what type exactly this Tobruk at La Rochelle is? Read the documents. 😉 You can also just enjoy the view. (Photo: Henk Adriaanse for




Some weeks ago we came into contact with a Marineflak veteran which was stationed at Trégastel, south of Brest in Bretagne, France.

Wolfgang Weber came in from the Flakschule at Misdroy at the Baltic Coast at the age of 19. His story combined with our fieldwork can be found here.

I must say, you do know a lot more about MFlak 811 than I ever had the opportunity to gather while I was there. And that is now long ago. Memories fade. [..] Perhaps I can shed a little light here or there.

I arrived  at 396 in about March of 44 coming from the Flak Training Center near Misdroy at the German Baltic Sea coast. During that short span of time until the Allied invasion and subsequent advances, there really wasn’t much time getting acquainted with the area and location of units. I knew that the heavy guns were of the 10.5 double barrel type. There were 2cm positions in the area but not in our immediate vicinity, to my knowledge.

About 5./MFlak (my unit), I don’t know of any other guns of that caliber in the area besides the 3 at BR 396. [..] There were no bunkers at our location. However, close to one of the guns a natural rock formation had created a small low ceiling cave that was utilized as storage place for non-military items of sorts. Each of the guns was positioned on top of three rock plateaus with a low concrete wall around it with storage space for the ammo.

The location of the Bt staff of 5./MFlak 811 was at the western limit of Plougastel proper near the water tower. As I was told, French labor was used building a defense trench system around the position. To no surprise, when enemy troops arrived in the area, well targeted artillerie barrages created havoc. The water tower received a direct hit. I have no knowledge of the number of 2 cm guns as well as the location the Bt staff.

The Abteilungsstaff was positioned at Plougastel. I was transferred there from 396 to help establish a unit to use forward observer reports about enemy troop advances converting those into coordinates and transmitting them to the batteries for ground defensive fire. After the enemy artillery succesfully destroyed that unit, we were relocated to an empty cinder block building south of Plougastel in an open field area to continue our work. Soon after, a targeted bombing raid leveled this building putting us out of business. With the enemy now advancing south towards the tip of the peninsula, the batteries were ordered to fire at will, we were attached to a small infantry unit which a few short days later had to surrender. I do remember the small Fortress Corbeau. I was there only once for a few hours of work detail.

After staying at POW camps in Landerneau, Morlaix, Rennes, and Tourlaville (Cherbourg) I was sent to the US and was at POW Camp Howze in Gainesville, near Dallas, TX until Feb 1946 when the POW’s were transferred to England, where I stayed at a POW Camp near Cockermouth in the Lake District until discharge to Germany in August of 1947.

I really don’t know if my notes are of any value or use to you. However, I had fun doing it.

Best wishes for now.
Wolfgang W.

Wolfgang Weber off duty in March 1944. (Private collection of Mr Weber)

Wolfgang Weber off duty in March 1944. (Private collection of Mr Weber)

Besides the Propagandakompanien which reported in word, photo, film and sound there was another medium used by the Reich to inform the homefront about the massive building activities around Europe: paintings.

One of the most prominent painters of this genre was Ernst Vollbehr. Born in Kiel in 1876, Vollbehr studied art in Berlin, Dresden, Paris and Rome before going on expeditions to Albania and Brasil in the early years of the twentieth century. During these trips he got familiar with painting landscapes and other scenes regarding travelling. In the years following, he travelled through the German African colonies.

Painting war

A German artillery position by Vollbehr.

A German artillery position by Vollbehr.

During the First World War he becomes an army staff painter and depicts the front, landscapes, destroyed villages and German troops.  A selection of his work is published in 1915 as “Kriegsbilder-Tagebuch des Malers Ernst Vollbehr”. In 1917 a second volume is published called “Bei der Heeresgruppe Kronprinz”. His depictions of World War One didn’t show the horrors of war. It was the soldier’s life and the landscape of war, which inspired him. His work looks quiet and safe, not the mud and terror of the trenches, but soldiers reading in a lightened cave, a wooden officer’s bungalow with a little garden, soldiers slowly loading an artillery piece like it’s the most pieceful thing to do. Compared to the dark expressionism of Belgian and German colleagues of the same time, Vollbehr’s paintings are easy to look at. Even a ruined chateau in a deserted landscape baths in a soft Provencal sun.

Hard times

After the war, Germany is broke, and so is Vollbehr. He searches for new ways of earning money and begins painting for the industry. He visits the big steel companies in Brandenburg an der Havel, Zeppelin- and Dornierfactories and the inland harbours along the Rhine, Ruhr and Donau. In 1927 he travels again, this time to the Dutch East Indies, financially supported by the Dutch government. The exhibitions in the Colonial museum in Amsterdam and the Scherl-Haus in Berlin are a big succes.

Vollbehr and the new Reich

Heavy Dreischartenturmbunker painted by Ernst Vollbehr around 1939.

Heavy Dreischartenturmbunker painted by Ernst Vollbehr around 1939.

When Hitler comes to power, things start to look bright again for Vollbehr. He is asked to paint the Reichsparteitagen, the Olympic games and, commissioned by Fritz Todt himself, the Reichsautobahnen, the huge highway building project. His works are acquired by the NSDAP, showing his popularity in those days with the new regime. Despite the ban on new party members, Vollbehr joins the NSDAP in july 1933, which is approved by Hitler personally. He publishes several books of which the last one, Mit der OT beim Westwall und Vormarsch (1941), shows the Westwall. He then depicts the battle fields again, from Poland to France, and the German building activities along the Atlantic coast. This work is published in newspapers and magazines. He receives the Goethe-Medaille für Kunst und Wissenschaft (Goethe decoration for Art and Science) for his work but then in 1943 he suddenly retreats to his private life. When his youngest son gets killed on the eastern front and the bombing of the Berliner Ateliers takes place he feels at first hand the results of the war politics of the NSDAP and Hitler. During the Tagen der Kunst in Kiel in 1944 he participates in an exhibition of landscape paintings for the last time.

Vollbehr died in May 1960, aged 84. A large part of his work is now in the collection of the Institut für Länderkunde in Leipzig.

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The San Fransisco based Nick Sowers records the sounds in and outside the Atlantikwall’s bunkers. Nick isn’t really interested in the strategic past or bunker archaeology but he researches the re-use of bunkers and their presence in the everyday landscape.

Île de Ré, France
Bunker Type 669 – Double Casemate (the official type number used by the Third Reich)
Antechamber, 1/4 submerged in sand, seawater enters at high tide, reverb 1.7 seconds;
Ammo storage inundated with seawater, reverb 1.4 seconds;
Three pigeons warbling at 12:25 pm;
Soft hands and bare feet of children scrambling on roof;
Graffiti artist spraying between 4:24 pm and 5:13 pm;
Daytime ambience from nearby motorway, attenuates toward evening;
Ceaseless, gentle ambience of ocean eroding concrete.

According to Nick, photographs cannot measure “the living presence across a duration of time captured by the bunker’s interior“, something which sound can.

More on Nick’s work on Places, an online journal of architecture, landscape, and urbanism. Or visit Nick’s website Soundscrapers.

Listening to the Atlantikwall. (Photo: Arthur van Beveren)

Listening to the Atlantikwall. (Photo: Arthur van Beveren)

Unfortunately for our field of interest, I often have to write about demolition and decay. The process is unstoppable and we have to live with it. However, raising concerns can never be bad.

Last week I made a visit to Stützpunktgruppe Voorne, in Holland. It was like seeing old friends. It was six years ago since I last saw the impressive Klein-Heidelbergstellung or Stützpunkt XXIV ML. This place is a text book example of a Luftwaffe big radar site, with a huge L 480 radar bunker, originally designed for a Wassermann radar, surrounded by anti-aircraft bunkers and supporting buildings.

The bunkers on Voorne have an extremely high building and finishing quality. Most corners are rounded and the inside walls are lined with isolating and fire resistent Heraklith which kept the bunkers extremely dry. There’s wall decoration, a black strip on the bottom and a yellow line high on the wall. It’s really a pleasent place to stay, if you had a choice during World War Two.

There are some great frescos and texts to be found in this complex with the highlight being the kitchen building with its walls decorated with huge slogans, a Luftwaffe eagle, the painted shield of the Luftwaffe Nachtjagd and more smaller drawings. Fortunately these are now behind closed doors which will hopefully prevent further fading in this wet bunker.

The drawings I found most interesting were three subtle silhouettes drawn on the wall in the L 409A/10203, L 410/10205 and the 622/10201. They represented respectively the Brandenburger Tor, the Kölner cathedral and the city hall of Breslau/Wrocław. Already in 2002, the Brandenburger Tor silhouette was damaged; people think the heraklith can be cut out in one piece. Ofcourse it crumbles to pieces after so many years. In 2004 both the Brandenburger Tor and the Breslau silhouette had disappeared. The cathedral was damaged. In january 2011 it was gone too.

So now the same question I always ask myself comes up again. What on earth would you do with a crumbled drawing which should be in the bunker where it was drawn in. What do people do with this stuff? It’s the same with ventilators, stoves, electrical boxes and wiring, telephone equipment etc etc. Money? Collecting? It’s stealing and above all destroying heritage. The only excuse these people usually have is: “If I don’t take it, somebody else will”. That’s so simple, and not an excuse at all. I hope this behaviour will change but I’m afraid it will get worse.

See the update on via this post.

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A short film by Alfonso Nogueroles about the art project Dunepark by the French artist Cyprien Gaillard.

In 2009 a type 600 bunker for 5cm KwK in Scheveningen was excavated as a ready made art work. It got huge attention from the media and people. After a month it was all covered as if nothing ever happened.

Seen on

Cyprien Gaillard's Dunepark 2009. (Photo: Arthur van Beveren)

The Festungsflammenwerfer or Festungsnahkampf Gerät was a ferocious weapon which was built only two times in the Atlantikwall. Ba 70 Alex posted a report on the French Atlantikwall forum.

The Germans built an extensive tunnel system with bunkers (120, M 152) on the Plateau de l’Atalaye in Biarritz. The positions, designated Ba 39 and 40, also housed the two fortress flamethrowers. A unique construction and finally there are some clear photos online. More info on the FN Gerät in English. In Panzerwerk 720 of the Oder-Warthe-Bogenlinie an FN Gerät remains.

The armoured tube (type 420P9) in the underground bunker of Ba 39. (Photo: Ba 70 Alex)

The armoured tube (type 420P9) in the underground bunker of Ba 39. (Photo: Ba 70 Alex)

Malcolm Amy, volunteer for the Channel Islands Occupation Society (CIOS) on Jersey, began publishing the accounts of three German soldiers who were assigned to Stp Corbiere on the island. It gives a highly interesting inside look into the daily life in and around the bunkers during the occupation.

You can follow the story on The soldiers who manned Stp. Corbiere on Axis History Forum.

Engelbert Hoppe visiting the 633 mortar bunker of Stützpunkt Corbiere in 2008. During the war he was the commander of the bunker. (Photo: Malcolm Amy, 2008)

Engelbert Hoppe visiting the 633 mortar bunker of Stützpunkt Corbiere in 2008. During the war he was the commander of the bunker. (Photo: Malcolm Amy, 2008)