From the internet:

[quote]Hard to believe: The Nazis last stand in Aachen, the former “Hochbunker” (air raid shelter) between the Rütscherstr and Försterstr in Aachen is to be demolished, to be exchanged for more boring urban apartments with basement garage. It was here, on October 21st, 1944 that the last Wehrmacht commander in the first liberated German city surrendered to the Allies. Justification of the Bezirksregierung Köln: „Because of the extensive alterations the explanatory power has been lost.“ (3)

I do not agree with that. Its thick concrete walls still show the devastating results of shelling, which was needed to expel the Nazi dictatorship. Every pedestrian, old or young, will notice this damaged concrete block and will ask the awkward question: “What happened here?” One possible answer is: “This is the place where dictatorship and repression ended and where freedom and democracy in West-Germany began.”

Aachen was the first large German city captured by the Allies. Its commander Oberst Wilck surrendered, against Hitler’s order to fight until the very last man, as the Nazis wanted it to be. Instead, he and his surviving soldiers gave up. This was a tremendous symbolic moment for the whole world. (3, 8)

Ok, bunkers are not beautiful. It needs fantasy and imagination to make something out of it, to enable visitors to experience their history but also to regain the usability of this urban spot. But please not by just demolishing them completely and build some ordinary multi storey apartments instead! It is just Aachen showing that a better way of combining history and urban living is possible: The Hochbunker in the Lütticherstr is currently altered for a supermarket (5), the Hochbunker in the Kongreßstr holds apartments since 1992 (6, 9). These huge concrete boxes are monuments, especially the Hochbunker in the Försterstr, which should not vanish from our collective awareness: These Hochbunker are not only a remembrance of Nazi dictatorship, of repression and war atrocities, on days and nights with people seeking protection from air raids and bombing. Especially the Hochbunker in the Försterstr is one of the first places of the Hour Zero, from which a free democratic Germany emerged!

Please sign this petition to demand:

– withdrawal of the demolishing permit.
– addition of this Hochbunker to the Monuments Register.
– development of a concept, to ensure a combination of monumental value and urban usability.

Petition link: Der Hochbunker Försterstr in Aachen soll nicht für Stadtwohnungen weichen

Press sources:
) The alternative way:

Please sign this petition :

Vorname = first name Nachname = surname E-mail = email address Postleitzahl = postal code Warum unterschreiben Sie? = Why do you sign? (optional) Unterschreiben = sign[/quote]

Early November a new book about the Westwall was published. It’s not about the defence line as a whole, but about a particular part of it, the naval gun batteries in the Upper Rhine valley. I talked to one of the authors of the book, Sascha Kuhnert, to find out how the Kriegsmarine guns ended up at the French-German border.

First Sascha, tell me something about how you ended up writing this book. Where did your interest come from?

I am born directly at the German/French border of the upper Rhine valley and basicly grew up just a few hundred meters next to the river Rhine, and the remains of several bunkers of the German Westwall opposite to the French City of Strasbourg. In the beginning when we were kids the bunkers were our best playground, even or maybe especially because it was forbidden by our parents. Later I got interested in the history of those bunkers as well as that of our village. Already as teenager I started to speak with old people and was writing down what they knew. Our village was evacuated in the summer of 1940 during the attack on Alsace by the German 7th Army, because it was too close to the river front line. The whole village was moved next to the 24cm Batterie Maisenbühl-Oberkirch, and was watching how they came in action. I heard about this battery and others the first time through the stories of the old people in my village. I joined a local history club and so I met an ex member of the 17cm Batterie Urloffen in a neighbouring village. He happily told me his whole story in several meetings, which was great because he had been with the 17cm guns at the Westwall and moved with them to Channel coast near Calais. In fact he stayed their during the rest of the war until he became a British prisoner of war in 1944. He was the first, and one of the best sources I found. Nobody was really interested in his story or to see all the great pictures he had. I got fascinated about all this and here I got the first time the idea of writing a book about the subject. The story and pictures of this man can be found in the book.

At the same time I joined the German fortification study group “Interfest” to know more about the history of the Westwall and I also became a member of the “Arbeitskreis Westwalltag”. It was a time when the Internet was still really non-existing and it was much harder to obtain historical information. Here I met Friedrich Wein who was living nearby and had the same interest. He also had more information about many of the other naval batteries in our area. We became friends and started on the book project. That was more than 10 years ago.

17cm SK L40 sommer 1940 Batterie Urloffen. (Collection authors)

17cm SK L40 sommer 1940 Batterie Urloffen. (Collection authors)


How did the Kriegsmarine end up far away from the seas, in the Oberrhein area?

This is basically the hot point of the whole story and also an explanation for many other questions. It all started in 1938 before the Munich Agreement  and the fall of the Czech republic. Hitler was planning to attack the Czech republic with all his forces. At this time the German army was not able to fight a war on two fronts. The Westwall, which was just started to be constructed and was still nothing more than a loose and thin line of a hand full of bunkers. Especially at the Upper Rhine valley the situation was very bad and it was estimated that an enemy breech could be realized after only 3 days. Hitlers idea was to strengthen this weak area with heavy artillery which should threaten French cities in the Elsass in case of an attack of the Allied forces.

The big problem was, that the German Army (Heer) didn’t have such long range guns, because of the Treaty of Versailles. This treaty had the biggest impact on the German army and air force and during the 1930s they were just in the early beginning of their reinforcing. There were not enough new guns and the ones available had too little range to do the job. The German Navy however was the only force in Germany which was allowed to use large calibre guns, to protect the German coast line. The Versailles Treaty saw a pure defence in those coastal guns because the German coast was too far from the next neighbouring countries compared to the range of these guns. And of course it was not allowed to use them anywhere else than there, at the German coast.

So Hitler’s personal order to the Kriegsmarine was to borrow naval guns which had the necessary range and which were not needed in any new navy project. There was basically nothing else available than old naval guns which had been built before World War One. The Navy had to obey and even support the Army with supply, troops, ammunition and specialists to install and use the guns in the upper Rhine valley. The Navy had to act like the Army was in charge and the whole project was personally watched by Hitler himself. Hitler ordered that the guns should be ready for action in October 1938 because that was the moment when he planned the attack on the Czech Republic and the expected Allied attack in the West. Time was too short to build any bunkers and so all the naval guns were just placed in open gun emplacements on top of simple concrete platforms.


Press photo of Bt Meisenbühl (Photo: NARA)

Press photo of Bt Meisenbühl (Photo: NARA)


Was the planning of Kriegsmarine fortifications any different from the Heer fortifications?

After the Munich Agreement of September 1938 and the danger of an Allied attack was over, the Navy got the order to leave their guns at the Upper Rhine Valley until the summer of 1939 and at the same time move all navy soldiers back to the coast. Only a very few specialists still remained as instructors with the guns.

Hitler now planned the attack on Polen and needed even more and stronger fortifications on the western border. He cancelled all the actual bunker projects and orderd the “Limesprogramm”, which we are calling the Westwall today. Much more and stronger bunkers were built, and in closer range to each other. The naval guns were supported by own bunker types,- designed by the German fortification pioneers (Festungspioniere). The German navy never really had any influence in the construction and the design of those bunkers. The heavy strength of the Westwall bunkers for the naval guns (in the use of the army) was completly Hitlers idea. He first came up with the idea for 3,50 m thick concrete walls and roofs. This was also the first time bunkers in the Baustärke A (3,50m) were planned and built in the Westwall. So on that moment Baustärke A was born, because of the personal fear of Hitler of an Allied air raid against the naval batteries close to the French border. The bunker designs were officially part of the “Limesbauprogramm 1938” and named as “Regelbauten” (Regelbau 30, 30a, 34, 35, 36).


Remains of camouflage paint on a 17cm Regelbau 30 (Photo: Sascha Kuhnert)

Remains of camouflage paint on a 17cm Regelbau 30 (Photo: Sascha Kuhnert)


Can you describe the camouflage of some of these casemates?

Because the design of the bunkers was determined by the guns, the camouflage of all naval gun battery’s bunkers in the upper rhine valley was determined by the surrounded countryside of the area in which they had been built. Thus the camouflage was very different, varied and also changed in a few cases by the seasons and times.

In forested area:

Chopped young trees were fixed at the outer walls of the bunkers. The side walls were covered with earth and long trees were painted at the front wall around the Scharte.

In country side and fields:

Some gun bunkers and also the command and personnel bunkers were covered with a wooden outer layer of a fake house or farm building. For example a barn, a farm house with stable at the side, or a typical wooden frame house of the southern German style or, like in the case of the 24cm Batterie Maisenbühl/Oberkirch, in the style of the old “Schwarzwaldhaus” (Farm building of the Black Forest for a big family and cattle).

If bunkers in such an area had been covered with earth, they also got a camouflage by nets all over the bunker later. The same happened also at the big 30,5cm naval gun of the Batterie Ottenhöfen.

All the fake wooden house boards of the gun bunkers suffered a lot during the firing of the guns and got badly broken. For example the faked roofs almost completely lost their real tiles which fell down and broke. The cover for the huge gun Scharte, which was a big gate running in rails (like at a garage for big vehicles) got lifted out of its rails and broke completely. So by firing more and more rounds, the camouflage was completely stripped.

Were the batteries actually put to action anywhere in the war?

Oh yes they did. Almost all of the batteries came to action and were shooting at french cities (Hagenau, Strassburg, Colmar, Selestatt, Mühlhouse) from May 16 to June 18 1940. The firing mostly took place during the attack on the Alsace by the 7th German Army (General Dollmann) over the Rhine at the Operation “Kleiner Bär” from 15.6 – 18.6.1940. The naval guns of the Westwall mainly supported this attack. All together about 3200 rounds were fired by the naval batteries during this period. A detailed scheme of the time and the targets and also the reasons why the guns fired is outlined in our book.


The guns were transferred to the Channel Coast, here at Batterie M IV Cap Griz Nez. (Collection authors)

The guns were transferred to the Channel Coast, here at Batterie M IV Cap Griz Nez. (Collection authors)


What happened to them after the Blitzkrieg of 1940?

The guns were taken out of the bunkers by the gun crews themselves. Most of the crew members were sent to the French coast with the guns, back to the responsibility of the Kriegsmarine. The empty bunkers remained at the upper rhine valley, got locked and were watched (not guarded) by older reserve soldiers from the villages nearby. They acted more like some kind of official caretaker for all the Westwall bunkers in their area. In the late autum of 1944 orders had been given to reinforce these bunkers with new and modern guns, this time from the army. These works went very succesful for the two bunkers of the ex. 24cm Batterie Maisenbühl/Oberkirch, but failed for the 17cm batteries. No information is known of any new use of these ex. 17cm bunkers or the finishing of the rearming work. Both old 24cm gun bunkers received new 21cm Kanone 52 (Also known as V3) from Skoda and came to action by shooting on Strassburg and later supporting a German counterattack over the Rhine as part of Operation Nordwind in January 1945. After the occupation of the Upper Rhine valley by the First French Army in April 1945 the first bunkers which were systematically blown up and stripped of all their metal parts were the bunkers of the old naval batteries. Only three ruins of all the twenty gun bunkers are left nowadays and are in bad shape but still visible. Furthermore several smaller objects are still to be seen but difficult to find like small bunkers for the communication system, the water supply and remains of barracks.


Frontside of the 17cm Regelbau 30 near Karlsruhe (Photo: Sascha Kuhnert)

Frontside of the 17cm Regelbau 30 near Karlsruhe today (Photo: Sascha Kuhnert)


Should I plan a vacation next week to see all the batteries in the Oberrhein area? 🙂

Not for the few remains of the batteries. There are only some interesting ruins at the last remaining battery near Karlsruhe. We (Friedrich Wein and me) are now trying to raise public interest for this difficult part of German history and think of offering free guided tours a few times a year for everybody. We also try to prevent the few ruins from further destruction through raising this extra awareness.

As a matter of fact it is just pure luck, that we received such a huge amount of old original pictures of the gun batteries which had been taken during the war. And because we present those pictures together with the old pictures from the batteries at the French coast, it gives you a better insight and impression of the whole story than text only.


17cm Regelbau 30 guided tour by both authors.

17cm Regelbau 30 guided tour by both authors.


Are you working on a new project already?

Not at the moment, because the last 14 months had been very busy with the writing work of the 638 pages for the book.  I just need a bit of a break. I am very sure however, that it was not my last project about the Westwall fortifications in my home area and that I already have a few new ideas.

Anyway I am constantly doing research about the Westwall in the Upper Rhine valley from Karlsruhe to the Swiss border. This includes both field work as well as research in various archives to document that part of the last German fortification line in the west of Germany.

Thank you so much Sascha for taking the time to answer these questions! It sure looks like an interesting book!

Die Marinegeschütze des Westwalls am OberrheinDie Marinegeschütze des Westwalls am Oberrhein. Ein Beitrag zur Geschichte der deutschen Westbefestigungen 

Author : Sascha Kuhnert & Friedrich Wein
640 pages and 489 B&W and color photo’s , drawings, sketches, maps, schematics, text
Cover: Hardcover
Language: German
size: A4
weight: 2.6 kg
ISBN: 978-3-937779-29-4
Puplished by: Explorate-Verlag
Price : 35.00 Euro + porto
Sold at Explorate-Verlag and Fortress Books

The Arbeitskreis Westwalltag organises guided three day tours in special parts of the Westwall once a year.

The Fördergruppe WH 316 has generously provided Dooms day believers (or bunker enthusiastics) a sleeping place from 20 until 22 December to survive this scary day. Who doesn’t want to live and sleep inside a Regelbau 108 and enjoy a dinner prepared on a WT80 bunker oven for a day?

Hello doomsday theorists and Westwall friends
Matching the doomsday on 21/12/12. We have a few “Schutzplätze” in WH 316 at Saarbrücken, Germany … * WARNING * IRONY … so that everyone the end of the world is about healing, wants the …
In order not to miss the end of the world, the Bunker will be open already at 20/12/12 from 8.00 a.m. Sleeping Places are available, but limited, so is a binding registration for the night necessary-for guests this is not necessary. End of the event is either the incoming doomsday, or the 22/12/12, at 10.00 a.m.
For drinks and foods are provided and of course the stove is well heated
Here the whole again in the short profile: Start: 12/20/12 from 8.00 p.m. End: 22/12/12, 10.00 a.m
* 12 people can sleep in the bunker WH 316. We must have 10 Euro per Person and Night for the sleeping place (the Generator has also thirsty …) sleeping bag, blanket and pillow are not included and must be brought himself
* Hosting with beer, Bock Beer and Glühwein- goulash soup or noodle pan (from a can) on the WT 80 cooked in a tin can
* Get together and interesting technical discussions, possibility a guidet tour on the Halberg-Stellung
* Breakfast on orders with a French baguette and Croisants on 21 and 22.12. in the morning
At this event, we can not offer all the comforts of a “Day of the reinforced door open” But even this small part will be guaranteed interesting.
Meals are offered at moderate prices-
Messages and request by PM to me, I post it always up the remaining number of places.
We are glad to see you ther Fördergruppe WH 316 e.V.

Enjoying dooms day together in Saarrbücken. (Photo: NARA)

Enjoying dooms day together in Saarrbücken. (Photo: NARA)

Two big airraid shelters in Wilhelmshaven will be demolished to make a place for a giant factory hall. Works will probably start as soon as April.

The two Kriegsmarine Truppenmannschaftsbunker 750 built in 1943 stand along the Hannoverschen Straße. Similar bunkers can be found in all German harbours, but they’re getting rare. So drive to Wilhelmshaven and get your pictures before it’s too late!

More info on these sort of bunkers via

Show bigger map

At Dillingen in the Saarland, a very special bunker for Dreischartenturm was excavated last week.

The information collected can be used for a possible future monumental status. The bunker is a very special Regelbau 132b. It’s a bunker for Dreischartenturm in Baustarke A (3,5 meter thick walls). This particular bunker was prepared to be incorporated into an underground tunnel system interconnecting other bunkers to defend the bridge over the Saar river. The tunnels were never built but extra entrances and shafts in the bunker were found.

The bunker’s turret was blown out after the war and the inside of the bunker was heavily damaged by American troops, blowing up ammo. Still, some relics and original fittings were found, both German and American.

Unfortunately after the publication of this news on several forums, illegal diggers tried to get into the bunker. This is why we can’t show any recent photos. More info via Axis History Forum.

The bunker with its turret flooded in 1939. (Photo: Bundesarchiv)

The bunker with its turret flooded in 1939. (Photo: Bundesarchiv)

The huge Flakbunker of Wilhelmsburg in Hamburg will become a renewable energy power plant.

The roof and side of the bunker will be covered with solar panels. Different systems inside the bunker will provide heating and power for the nearby neighborhood. More info (in German) via IBA Hamburg.

Model of the future energy bunker. (Source: IBA Hamburg)

Model of the future energy bunker. (Source: IBA Hamburg)

What to do with our beloved relics? Demolish them? Turning them into museums or let them be? German architects Rainer Mielke and Claus Freudenberg have specialised themselves turning bunkers into residential houses.

According to their website, bunkers were built to receive people and protect them. Because of their massive construction, they last even without costly maintenance efforts. Most of them are located in residential areas so why don’t convert them and make them to use to people. Currently most of their converted bunkers are located in Bremen.

Take a look at their website. You already have your own bunker appartment from €250.000.

In 2007 this bunker in the Schierker Straße in Bremen-Peterswerder was divided into four 160m2 appartmens. (Photo:

In 2007 this bunker in the Schierker Straße in Bremen-Peterswerder was divided into four 160m2 appartmens. (Photo:

Markus Lauer from Germany warms his house with an original WT80 bunker stove! 🙂

Axis History Forum.

Markus' "Goldnugget'

Markus' "Goldnugget'

While one project goes down other ones are just starting. Markus Lauer is renovating a Regelbau B1-5 in Sulzbach (Saarland).
In September 2009 the owner of the bunker gave permission to start restorating it. After removing loads of trash and installing a new 14P7 armoured door at the entrance the first part of the project is done. In the last week of january the bunker will be sandblasted. Then the actual restoration begins.
The B1-5 still has its armoured plates (7P7 and 10P7). Follow the news on this bunker on Axis History Forum.
In the last years several Westwall bunkers are being renovated. Most of them are on the website of the Verein Westwallmuseen Saar-Mosel.
The Regelbau B1-5 on Sulzbachtalstraße in Sulzbach (Saarland). (Photo: Markus Lauer)

The Regelbau B1-5 on Sulzbachtalstraße in Sulzbach (Saarland). (Photo: Markus Lauer)

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.

Regelbau 1 'Anton' in better days. (Photo: Markus Lauer)

Regelbau 1 'Anton' in better days. (Photo: Markus Lauer)