If you ever want to blow up a bunker (why??), be sure to view this video. It’s the demotion of the V 149 command bunker on the ’24 oktoberplein’. It was re-used after the war by the Dutch civil defence. In 2009 it was demolished to make place for a new fly-over.
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 Bunkersite.com via this post.
The site of the former arsenal of Lorient will be transformed into a new neighborhood. Many bunkers will disappear.
During the war several big S k bunkers were built for the personnel of the arsenal. The French navy re-used the bunkers after the war but left the place in 2000. Now old barracks, bunkers and other building will be demolished to make place for new houses and companies.
For more inf o see the french Atlantikwall forum.
Last week demolition works on another part of Landfront Hoek van Holland started. In Wn 33H, a 134, 621 and brick building will disappear for a new road. One positive thing: a remaining 134 will be moved several meters.
Just after the war, a 612, two 621s and a 676 already disappeared. The new road will distress the old dike towards Hoek van Holland which couldn’t handle all the traffic anymore. An old drawing in the brick canteen building and armoured parts from the 621 will be saved.
The local government of Wissant on the 23th of March decided to demolish the bunkers on the southern beach of the town. It was the French state who feels the bunkers are a danger to the coastal protection and to visitors of the beach. Total costs of the demolition: €450.000.
The ruins pose too much of threat to the thousands of visitors each year. “Three years ago we’ve had a fatal accident when a boy fell from a bunker”, mayor of Wissant Bernard Bracq explains. According to him the bunkers also speed up the process of coastal erosion.
Local citizens are afraid the erosion will be more extensive when the bunkers have disappeared. They also think it’s part of Wissant, they know the concrete structures from back in their youth. But Bracq thinks “they don’t belong in a natural site” anyway: “the bunkers have nothing to do in the Bay of Wissant”.
With the demolition of Stp Pommern another important site in the north-west of France disappears. Also at St Cécile and Fort Mahon bunkers were demolished long after the end of the war and it makes you think if it’s not just a cosmetical move to make the beach look better for tourists.
Edit 11 April: Thanks to Hervé for his comment.
One of the most important bunker sites in Norway, Batterie Vara (Møvik fort, Kroodden), is in danger. There are plans to build a new neighborhood on a part of the battery’s terrain. Besides the historical value of the site it is also a beautiful recreational place.
Looking at the plans, two 38cm gun emplacements will be surrounded by houses. All the bunkers on the north side of the complex are in danger too. Closest to the bunker will be a new school with sport fields. Some new houses will be twelve stories high.
Batterie Vara was built from 1942 to secure the Skaggerak together with Batterie Hanstholm II in Denmark. It’s one of the few places in the Atlantikwall where the gun is left in the emplacement. The 38cm S.K. C/34 was used by the Norwegian army after the war until the nineties. It’s a huge bunker complex with four emplacements (of which one is ‘Verschartet’, it got a roof) and supporting bunkers (ammo, machinery, personnel). It was protect against infantery attacks by several MG/Pak bunkers and endless trenches with Tobruks. Today the gun with bunker is a museum.
A Westwall Regelbau 1 for a machine gun in Merzig (Saarland) will probably be demolished or covered in the near future. From 2005-2007 it was a small Westwall museum.
The bunker built in 1938 during the ‘Limes-Bauprogramm’ was completely renovated. Unfortunately a new road will cross the spot of the bunker and it had to be closed last december. Recently all internal fittings and armoured material were removed and stored for later use by the Westwall Interessen Gemeinschaft. The bunker was welded shut and works will begin somewhere in the future.
A Luftschutzturm (air raid shelter) near Rosshafen, Hamburg has been destroyed. The five-storied bunker which was finished off with a layer of bricks over the concrete “had” to be destroyed for a new container terminal.
It’s not even clear when this terminal will be built, but the bunker is gone anyway. Another relic that disappeared..
Luckily Hamburger Unterwelten made a virtual tour before the bunker was destroyed. It shows some beautiful relics.
More info on the demolition on lostplaces.de.
Thanks to my correspondent in the Calais area Olejniczak Hervé
Not a lot of happy news lately. This time it’s Le Touquet (Paris Plage), where a Vf bunker on the golf course has to make room for a new clubhouse.
It’s uncertain if there will ever be a new clubhouse. Sylvain Gouz, of the ASFD for conservation of the woods and dunes of the Côte d’Opale, already opposed to the plan saying “the new structure will be environmental hostile in these dunes”.
But another the bunker has disappeared..
Thanks to my correspondent in the Calais area Olejniczak Hervé
The well known naval Batterie Oldenburg near Calais is going to loose some of its bunkers to a new hunting terrain! Anywhere else this sounds crazy but apparently hunting is still big in France.
Since the first week of december, bird hunting lakes and observation cabins are being built in front of the huge gun casemates of the battery. This is to compensate the closure of hunting areas on the Platier d’Oye more north. The personnel bunker 621, garage 629 and a naval personnel bunker of the battery will disappear under sand.
Earlier this year, there were some speculations the battery was about to disappear in total because of Calais’ harbour expension in 2015, but fortunately these proved to be untrue. Now some things will change.