world war ii bunker

Thousands of bunkers were built during World War II along the French coastline to forestall an Allied landing. The so-called “Atlantic Wall” was decommissioned after the Allied invasion of Normandy and now lies abandoned.

Paul Virilio (°1932, Paris) stumbled upon these relics with his camera and began a study that would continue for 30 years. His book Bunker Archeology (1975) became an inquiry of war and its structures and a personal memoir of exploration, merging technical analysis with philosophical questioning.


WW2 fortifications (St. Katarina hill, Rijeka, Croatia)

The area of Rijeka was heavily fortified even before World War II (the remains of these fortifications can be seen today on the city outskirts). This was the fortified border between Italy and Yugoslavia which, at that time, cut across the city area and its surroundings. When Yugoslav troops started to approach the city in April 1945, one of the fiercest and largest battles in this area of Europe ensued. The 27000 German and additional Italian troops fought tenaciously from behind these fortifications (renamed “Ingridstellung” – Ingrid Line – by the Germans). Under the command of the German general Ludwig Kübler they inflicted many thousands of casualties on the attacking Yugoslav partisans, which were forced to charge uphill against well-fortified positions to the north and east of the city. Ultimately the Germans were forced to retreat. 

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Top photo: Looking into a bunker on the Neckar-Enz line. One of 450 bunkers along 86Km of river. This was a serious hold up to the US advance into Germany in the spring of 1945. The line held the US back for 12 days. 

Bottom Photo: The embrasure that protected the entrance is to the right, the exterior embrasure is at the end of this passageway and covers the approaches to the bunker. 

Here you can see the extent of smoke damage to the interior. Some bright bulb decided to torch a couple of mattresses. 


Panther turrets were mounted in fixed fortifications; some were normal production models, but most were made specifically for the task, with additional roof armour to withstand artillery. Two types of turret emplacements were used; (Pantherturm III - Betonsockel — concrete base) and (Pantherturm I - Stahluntersatz — steel sub-base). They housed ammunition storage and fighting compartment along with crew quarters. A total of 182 of these were installed in the fortifications of the Atlantic Wall and Siegfried Line (Westwall), 48 in the Gothic Line and Hitler Line, 36 on the Eastern Front, and two for training and experimentation, for a total of 268 installations by March 1945. They proved to be costly to attack, and difficult to destroy.

There’s something futile about placing a tank turret into a permanent fixture. 

The top twp photos I took in Pirmasens, Germany on the westwall. 

I just find these fascinating. Wish I could have climbed in…….