Anyone who has ever visited the Dutch dunes will undoubtedly have come across the bunkers in the dunes; German bunkers from the Second World War. These are remnants of the Atlantic Wall, a 5200-kilometre long defence line from Norway to the south of France. The Atlantic Wall was built on the Noorderpier in 1944. Precisely Hoek van Holland was considered by the Germans to be the most important Dutch coastal town in the Second World War, because of its access to the port of Rotterdam and the hinterland. In 1996 the first Atlantic Wall museum was opened by the ‘Fortress Hook of Holland’ Foundation, located in a German artillery bunker of type 625b of the defence of Marine-Flak-Batterie Nordmole, followed by initiatives in Noordwijk and The Hague.
As a result of the sharply increasing interest and the growing collection, it was decided to move the museum to a nearby more giant artillery bunker of type 611. After years of restoration work, the renovated Atlantikwall-Museum opened in 2012. During the Second World War, this bunker was part of the infamous ‘Atlantic Wall’; once intended to prevent an Allied invasion of occupied Western Europe from the sea, now the Atlantic Wall has become a distinguished World War II heritage site. The presence of this defence line has made our coastal region a memorial landscape. The remaining bunkers are the visible witnesses of the far-reaching events that took place here, such as their construction and military significance, but also the mass evacuations, demolition and reconstruction.
The Dutch knowledge and education centre in Atlantikwall Museum
In recent years, this artillery bunker has been transformed by volunteers into the new visitor centre, where dioramas, information screens, films, sound material and objects can be used to delve into the historical significance of the Atlantic Wall. Volunteers run the museum. Guided tours of the Nordmole (German anti-aircraft defences) are regularly organised, and they are committed to the preservation of the remaining defences within the defensive area of the former ‘Festung Hoek van Holland’.
There are still dozens of bunkers and bunker complexes under the sand, often disguised as overgrown hills or dunes. Some of them are being dug out, restored and opened to the public. Numerous bunkers have also been given a new purpose over time. They are used as storage for ammunition, archives or art, as well as mushroom growing, as a museum and even as a holiday home. Bunkers have also become home to protected plant and animal species, such as bats.