Atlantic Wall Bunker in Normandy Returned to its Original State

AzevilleBatterieDuring the Second World War in Normandy and especially in the run up to D-Day the German fortifications that made up the Atlantic Wall were camouflaged with paintings to make them look like ordinary buildings.

These concrete fortifications were built by the Todt organisation, which had designed the Siegfried Line on the French German border, as a defence against an Allied invasion from England.

Now in the run up to the 70th anniversary of D-Day next year they are being painted again to show what they would have looked like at the time.

The first to be given the trompe l’oeil technique is the Batterie at Azeville between Sainte-Maire-Eglise and Montebourg. There are around 2,000 pieces of the Atlantic Wall that still exist along the coastline of Normandy.

With the help of historian Valentin Schneider and the use of aerial photographs taken by the Allies during the war, the walls of the remains of the bunkers have been painted to look like ruined houses with tress and bushes growing out of them.

It is the first stage in the creation of a permanent museum at the site in time for the 70th anniversary in 2014. The new museum will evoke everyday life during the war for the German soldiers stationed at the batterie and the local population. Some 170 German soldiers were at Azeville between 1942 and 1944.

According to Marc Lefevre, vice president of the Manche General Council it will be very different from other war museums. ‘There will be no weapons or models wearing uniforms. The idea is to provide a place stripped bear and left to the imagination. We hope people will think about how the war was imposed on everyone, the French and the German soldiers who were stationed there,’ he said.

A council team searched through the archives to find out what the batteries was like when it became operational in 1941. They also were able to use details from a film taken by the American army in July 1944 after the D-Day landings which showed how it was camouflaged.

Of the four walls, two were covered in earth and the other two were painted to look like a ruined home. ‘It was done in a somewhat naive style,’ said Mr Schneider. He explained that he also read the memoirs of Commander Treiber who was in charge of the Germans. ‘He wrote about the monotony of life on the Atlantic Wall, the isolation, the rain and the mud,’ he explained.

The German commander also wrote about the relationships with the locals. A mess was built for meals for both the Germans and local people. It was also where sometimes the Germans entertained young women who came from Cherbourg.

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About Ray Clancy

Ray Clancy has 20 years experience in journalism including contributing articles to print and on-line publications such as PropertyWire.com, Property World Middle East and websites for estate agents. She has also written for the Daily Telegraph and Mail on Sunday.

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