History written in concrete (WW II)





BORDEAUX: The plan's scope was enormous. The surviving examples are as common across Europe as Roman ruins. More than 330,000 men struggled against the clock to meet construction schedules. Yet all the effort proved fruitless.

Today, 63 years after the end of World War II, the remains of the Nazis' Atlantic Wall are there for all to see, although few observers realize the extent of what they are seeing. No complete inventory has ever been done, but specialists estimate that some 6,000 pillboxes and blockhouses still dot Europe's coastline.

Constructed between 1942 and 1944, the Wall stretches from Finland and Norway, southwest through Denmark, the Netherlands, Belgium, the Channel Islands, down into France and Spain. Its purpose was to halt any Allied invasion by stopping it at beach level. The Allies suffered heavy losses in the Normandy landing partly because of these defenses....

Public opinion is divided over whether to raze or preserve these remnants of Europe's worst nightmare. A few hundred have been destroyed by various municipalities, mainly to make room for parking lots or shopping malls. One was buried in the construction of the Channel Tunnel. Several are tilted at crazy angles on the coastline, sinking into the advancing seas.

The current debate over what to do with the bunkers revolves around the need to deal with unsettling memories.


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