Epic Books: Duitse bunkers in Nederland, 1979

In the series Epic Books I discuss the books that either were the first in the field or the ones that inspired and mystified me. It was the time when the internet wasn’t there yet to look it all up, and when I still thought German bunkers were Dutch. This time it’s ‘Duitse bunkers in Nederland’ by Rudi Rolf.

This is the 1979 booklet, not to be confused with Rolf’s more extensive book ‘Bunkers in Nederland’ published in 1982. The 1979 booklet (German bunkers in the Netherlands, in English) contains basic information about the Atlantikwall and a typology of bunkers that were built in the Netherlands. It was Rolf’s first publication and he made 100 of them, on his typing machine. This particular one is numbered 35.

The booklet brings you back to the late 1970s when there was no graffiti and less urbanisation. When a lot of bunkers weren’t covered under sand. When you could still find original equipment inside. It’s also the time, when nobody cared about bunkers yet, and demolishing them was standard practice. Rolf was probably the first in Holland to look at these buildings in an academical way.

According to Rolf’s foreword it was meant as an addition to the first books that came out in the 1960s and 70s. No other book, except maybe for Coling Partridge’s Hitler’s Atlantic Wall, had gone into the technical details Rolf showed up. It was after Rolf found out about the archive of the Dutch army sappers, that he decided to combine all the information he found, in a publication.

All the German documents like maps, books, and bunker plans ‘disappeared’ after the archive moved to The Hague so there’s quite some interesting information in this little book.

I imagine Rolf sitting behind his Triumph SE 1000 CD typewriter, making small typing errors, redrawing archive plans and maps and copying the pages until he had 100 copies, and a little extra. Then stamping each of them. Who has number one? Did he keep it? He probably gave one to his friend Peter Saal, who he later wrote another epic book with: Vestingwerken in West-Europa (Fortifications in Western Europe) published in 1986, the year I was born.  I like my number: 35. Do they all fall apart? Are there any other ones still out there? Did they fly oversees?  How many got thrown away?

I often have a look at it. Read it. You have to be cautious, the pages are falling out piece by piece. Rudi Rolf’s first book on German fortifications, really is an epic one!

Please do leave a comment if you own a copy!

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