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11 Fascinating Facts about the Atlantic Wall WW2


May 26, 2016

German troops man an MG-34 somewhere along the coast of France.

History often talks about how evil the nazis were but never acknowledges the fact that they were tactical Geniuses.
In 1939 USSR and NG Invaded Poland one week after the Ribbentrop-Pact at the start of the war Britain and her allies declared war on Germany.

Hitler Initiated blitzkrieg In six weeks from 10 May 1940, German forces defeated Allied forces in a series of mobile operations, and conquered France.

Next the battle of Britain Began that proved to be suicide for Luftwaffe as they began to fall for aerial defenses attacking an Island nation and overall excellent tactic of the RAF.

Operation sea Lion was a land based Invasion of Britain that failed to put into effect September 1940 due to failure of luftwaffe to gain Air superiority over britain.

In 1941 United states declared war on Germany after Failure of Luftwaffe to gain Air supperiority over Britain that eventually lead to the collapse of Operation Sea lion .

In 1942 A coastal defense was prepared by Germany to stop the Invading forces that became known as "The Atlantic wall"

1. Hitler issued the order to build the Atlantic Wall on March 23, 1942 in his now famous ‘Directive 40.’ The plan called for the construction of 15,000 separate concrete emplacements to be manned by 300,000 soldiers (both German troops and foreign conscripts). Since no one in the Axis high command knew where the invasion would occur, the whole of occupied Europe’s Atlantic coastline was to be fortified. Astoundingly, Hitler wanted the work completed by May 1, 1943

2. The “wall” was really a three-tier system of fortifications running almost 2,000 miles from the Franco-Spanish border all the way to the northern tip of Norway. Strategic port cities like Cherbourg, Brest and Antwerp were to become festungen or “fortresses” — the most heavily defended installations. Sites of secondary importance (lesser ports, military installations, radar stations) were protected by stützpuntkte or “strong points”, which would be guarded by batteries and gun positions under independent command. The third level of defences consisted of widerstandnesten or “resistance nests”. These less hardened installations featured interconnected bunkers and medium caliber guns.

3. Approximately 1.2 million tons of steel went into the Atlantic Wall. That’s enough to build more than 20,000 Tiger tanks. The Nazis also poured 17 million cubic metres of concrete into the defences – the equivalent of 1,100 Yankee Stadiums.

4. The cost to lay down just the French portion of the Atlantic Wall was 3.7 billion Reichsmarks — an estimated $206 billion in today’s currency.

5. More than 260,000 workers helped to build the Atlantic Wall. Only 10 percent of these men were German. Albert Speer’s Organisation Todt directed the construction effort using thousands of forced labourers as well as many poorly paid local men. Speer’s previous projects included the Autobahn highway system in Germany as well as the Siegfried Line along the Franco-German border.

6. The guns that grew out of the Atlantic Wall were a confusing mixture of sizes and calibres rushed in from all over Europe. They ranged from naval guns that were cut away from decommissioned French and German warships to captured artillery pieces of Czech and French origin. Servicing and supplying ammunition to this dizzying array of weaponry would become a logistical nightmare for the Axis.

7. By the summer of 1944, the Nazis had laid more than 5 million mines along the Atlantic Wall. German gun crews spent months pre-sighting anticipated landing areas and constantly rehearsed pouring artillery, mortar and machine-gun fire onto these designated killing zones.

8. The commander to first oversee the defences was Field Marshall Karl Gerd von Rundstedt, a 69-year-old career soldier who won fame in 1940 for outflanking the Maginot Line. The maneuver ultimately led to the collapse of France. Ironically, he would now preside over the building of an even more massive series of fixed fortifications.

9. In late 1943, when Field Marshal Erwin Rommel inspected the Atlantic Wall for the first time, he thought the enterprise a giant farce. The famous Desert Fox described Hitler’s strategy for defence as something out of wolkenkuckucksheim or “cloud cuckoo land”.

10. Events proved Rommel right. The wall was famously breached along the Normandy coastline in mere hours on June 6, 1944. Thanks in part to a remarkable Allied campaign of deception, Hitler was adamant that the massive operation on D-Day was only a feint and that the real blow would land elsewhere, namely at the Pas de Calais. Within days, the British, French, Americans and Canadians had secured their beachheads through which millions of fresh troops would soon pour into Europe. Within 11 months Berlin was in Allied hands.

11. After 1945, the people of France felt that the abandoned defences were an unpleasant symbol of the occupation and couldn’t break them apart fast enough. Efforts to reclaim the coastline would still take years. It wasn’t until decades later that the public began to preserve sections of the Atlantic Wall for posterity. Many of the fortifications still stand and draw thousands of tourists annually.

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