The Unknown German Defense Line in Denmark

The last couple of days I've noticed the many old bunkers and gunpositions from World War II spread all over the landscape along the West Coast of Jutland. In particular here in Henne and the nearest surroundings they're everywhere.

April 9, 1940, Denmark was occupied by Germany. The reason for this was, that Germany was at war with England, and therefore concerned that England would be allowed to position troops and war material in Denmark, blocking Germany's ways in and out of their own significant fleet harbours for instans in Kiel, Rostock and Danzig (now Stettin in Poland).

The Danish government had come to the conclusion, that in case of a German attack, Denmark would not attempt to fight Germany. The leading men in Denmark wanted to avoid bombings of Denmark, and therefore sought to collaborate with Germany in order to save Denmark from destruction.

This policy was - at least in the beginning - widely welcomed. Denmark managed to survive 5 years of German occupation relatively safe. However, of course the country suffered, most of all because Germany saw Denmark as their private food provider. And the industry was forced to supply Germany with weapons, clothings and manpower.

Denmark also allowed Danish soldiers to participate in the war under German flag. Danish soldiers were inlisted in the 'Regiment Nordland' and 'Regiment Wiking'; both regiments fought in Russia, and 'Regiment Wiking' also fought in the last battle of Berlin in May 1945.

The collaboration policy has been heavily discussed in Denmark, in particular when the war ended, and many felt that the politicians who chose to cooperate with the Nazi regim should be punished. My personal opinion is that it was an understandable decision considering the country's limited military resources.

In order to secure the Danish coastline, Germany ordered the building of a defense line along the West Coast from the southern parts of Denmark to the most northern point of Denmark - Skagen.

This defense line was a part of the strategic Atlantic Coast defense line. It involves bunkers, gunpositions and barriers, all built in armoured steel and concrete. What ingredients the concrete contains is impossible to guess, but it has proven itself to resist explosives etc. The Danes have given up the thought of removing these monuments because it's impossible. Instead the ruins have become a significant part of the landscape.

Below you see some of the ruins spread out in Henne and how people have tried to let the bunkers become a natural part of life.

This one is just outside my window. Standing on top of it you can see miles away. There are a couple of benches up there where you can sit and reflect over life while enjoying the magnificant sunset.

I have updated my photo album on picasawebb. You'll find it under Henne Strand, June 2009.



m_m said...

It's very interesting what you wrote and presented in these photos. I didn't expect to see such military objects in the landscape of Denmark.

I also agree that it was hard decision for many European politicians of the 1930s. and 1940s. (in the context of the war), and today it is very difficult to estimate what option was better. I think there was no good solution.

I like the photos of Tirpitz Bunker as well. Interesting place and great piece of history.

Thanks for visiting our blogs, we are very happy to see you there:).


Jacob said...

He who is without sin...cast the first stone...

Or something like that...

How to second-guess decisions made so long in circumstances we really don't understand?

Many mistakes were made by many people in many countries.

In the USA, IBM was a major collaborator throughout the war with the Nazi Party! In fact, the Nazi Party depended on IBM's machines and expertise!

The Bush family, through their banking connections, helped finance the Nazis!

Especially in the identification and transportation of Jews!

Other US companies collaborated with the Nazis even while the war raged.

Your treatise is most interesting and I appreciate seeing the various bunkers.

Best wishes to you, also, and hope your weekend is going well!

Jacob said...

Oops! I screwed up a bit. It was IBM that helped the Nazis identify and transport the Jews to the camps, not the Bush family!

JM said...

Very interesting post indeed!

Christopher Raun Leth said...

It was a difficult time for the world and I guess we were lucky in Denmark. Two things do shame me though; that the number of the resistance movement tripled in the last months of the occupation when it was obvious to everyone that Germany had lost (these many people are called the latter days saints in Denamrk), and the administration of "justice" afterwards. Too many innocents and small fish were hit and too many of the big collaborators went free.