Propaganda poster of the occupier

Propaganda poster of the occupier

Motive

The German forces had failed to beat England in the years 1940 and 1941 and turned their gaze eastward. After performing an attack on the Soviet Union the chances of the dreaded two-front war would increase. On December 14, 1941 the German high command therefore decided to build a defense line along the occupied European west coast; the Atlantikwall. The construction of this line of defense took place between 1942 and 1944. The Atlantikwall was approximately 2685 km long and stretched from Norway via Denmark, Germany, the Netherlands, Belgium and France to the border with Spain. The defense line, which was never fully completed, consisted of bunkers, cannons, barricades and minefields.

The construction

The leadership of the work for the construction of the Atlantikwall was in the hands of the Organisation Todt (OT). This was a governmental organ that passed the implementation to local small and large building companies, which were under contract by the organization. The Abteilung Siedlung und Bauten, a division of the Reichskommissariat Niederlande, was also responsible for the construction of several bunker complexes in the Netherlands. To be able to build quickly and efficiently most bunkers were standardized. For almost every conceivable function there was a bunker type developed, they were universal but could be changed slightly when it was needed. Divided into main groups, there were observation- and fire control bunkers, weapon positions (such as gun bunkers), command posts, living quarters, ammunition stores, connection stations (including radar stations), and structures with a support function (such as hospital, toilet, water- and food storage). Many barriers had to slow the enemy as much as possible when the Stützpunktgruppe would be attacked.

The Hague and Scheveningen

The Hague and Scheveningen did not escape from the construction of the Atlantikwall. Initially the beach of Scheveningen stayed open to the public during the German occupation but in the spring of 1942, when the construction of the Atlantikwall started, the dunes and the beach became Sperrgebiet (forbidden for citizen). Soon 350 houses in the coastal strip of Duindorp and Scheveningen-Dorp were evacuated and demolished. In October 1942 a greater proportion of Scheveningen and a part of western The Hague also became Sperrgebiet For the construction of bunkers and barricades, and the clearing of the fields of fire, about 30.000 houses were demolished and about 50.000 trees in forests and parks were cut down. Comprehensive evacutations hit more than 140.000 citizen, and of the more than 28.550 houses in the 'fortress’ 90% was cleared. Many of the evacuees went to Aalten. To prevent a rapid advance of the Allies a 5.5 kilometer long and 27 meters wide tank ditch was dug. It stretched from Kijkduin, along the Sportlaan, Segbroeklaan, President Kennedylaan and Johan de Wittlaan to Zorgvliet. The barricade then continued as a tank wall and a barrier with long rows of dragon's teeth towards the Waterpartij (which was also made into a tank ditch), stretched to the Kanaal and just past the Plesmanweg it made a turn. Then it stretched in a straight line along the existing water at the Kwekerijweg to the Van Alkemadelaan and the dunes. The long defense line was called the Hauptkampflinie (HKL) . In the Hauptkampflinie there were also 12 official entrances to the Stützpunktgruppe. Along the inland side of the Hauptkampflinie lay a strip of 600 meters as a field of fire which made that Scheveningen could be defended on both the seaside and the landside.

Status

The Atlantikwall was made out of a series of strongpoints that were differed in size and significance. The highest status an area could get was Festung and was only granted to key strategic points, such as around major ports. The second highest status for a defended area was Verteidigungsbereich. Scheveningen did not get the Festung status, but the status of Stützpunktgruppe , which was due to its coastal location, and its function as an administrative and military center. In the vicinity of Stützpunktgruppe Scheveningen lay a number of important objects, such as Scheinflughafen Ockenburg near Loosduinen, the command center of the Befehlshaber der Waffen-SS in den Niederlanden in Voorburg and the Luftwaffe Hörch Kompanie.

Sloop van een bunker in de Westduinen

Demolition of a bunker in the Westduinen

After the war

After the war, the government tried to clean up as much structures as possible. The government subsidized the 'rubble cleaning’ only when it was really necessary to resumte to the regular daily life. Where bunkers weren't really standing in the way they were buried underground. Therefore most remaining fortifications lie in nature areas, often completely covered. Furthermore, bunkers were often reused, for instance as quarters for scouting groups, mushroom farms or simply as storage spaces. Also the Cold War gave rise to a renewed interest by the military authorities. In 1996 the city council of The Hague put 17 bunkers and 6 complexes on the communal monument list. This due to their cultural-historical value and their significance for science.