German Fortifications - Hilter's fatally flawed fortress madness

For Military History Enthusiasts and everyone with a keen interest in finding out how the German Occupation fits into the Island's history!! During the German Occupation of the Channel Islands in World War 2, Hitler ordered that the Islands should become impregnable fortresses to be held by the Third Reich forever. On our tour, we start our story with the lead up to the German Occupation in May and June 1940, the arrival of German troops and the impact on the Island as it became clear that their stay was not a temporary one. We will visit examples of the German fortifications and bunkers around the Island which made the Channel Islands one of the most heavily fortified and defended places in Nazi occupied Europe!

As a consequence of Hitler’s order, a German bunker of one design or another was constructed at each strategic position across the Channel Islands. Each of the bunkers had specific and varied purposes. Some were built as gun emplacements or to house other weapons. There are also troop shelters, ammunition and other stores, command bunkers as well as tunnel complexes, and all the infrastructure which went with them and which was included in the master plan. The Channel Islands were part of Germany’s Atlantic Wall which stretched from Norway to northern Spain, and the fortifications here consumed somewhere in the order of a twelfth of all the costs / concrete and steel of the whole Wall. As a consequence, many parts of the Atlantic Wall on the continental mainland were unfinished or lacking in armament in comparison to that in the Islands.

The master plan in the Channel Islands envisaged 8 years of construction, but in the end, only about 2 years worth of it was actually completed. Despite the grand plans, many German bunkers and fortifications planned were half-finished or not even started by the time that the German labour force was withdrawn from the Islands, at the same time as  supplies of cement and steel had also dried up to all but a trickle.

In addition to limited numbers of well paid and willing volunteers, both local and from across Europe, thousands of “forced labourers” from German occupied territories had been brought to the Channel Islands, together with “slave” labourers, consisting mainly of Russian POWs and civilians, against their will. The latter were generally brutally treated, starved and beaten by their overseers in Organisation Todt, and many attempted to escape with varying degrees of success. But by late 1943 and 1944, the vast labour force had been withdrawn to work on other projects around Europe and to repair the growing destruction caused by Allied bombing across Germany, and the building work effectively ceased in the Channel Islands.

Whilst the treatment of some of those who built the German bunkers and fortifications was brutal and inhuman, and it remains shocking to this day, the survival of the bunkers is remarkable. It is a stark reminder how Europe might have ended up had the outcome to the Second World War been different. Their design and construction, together with the weapons used to arm the fortifications and bunkers, is impressive, and it is a marvel that many are in excellent condition notwithstanding their seventy-five year old age.

However, Hitler’s plan was not only madness but also fatally flawed. Hitler got it wrong and wouldn’t listen to his most senior generals who realised that when D Day came, the efforts in the Channel Islands was a complete wasted effort. But that isn’t half the story because you have to ask why the Channel Islands were so fortified when the generals were against it. To answer that, you have to understand the Nazi regime and how the Germans were taken in by Hitler and the Nazi propaganda, as well as fearing the consequences of not conforming.

Come on the tour to really understand why Hitler was obsessed with a bunker mentality which would never have won WW2!

As a Private Tour, you can book this tour on any day in our Calendar. Just select the Full Day tour option and state “German Fortifications” in the special requests box. Check the Calendar for available dates or  contact us for other options.

Video of the German Bunker Tour

Highlights include

  1. Batterie Moltke and MP3, Les Landes, Saint Ouen
  2. The Channel Islands Military Museum
  3. Sechsschartentürme, Resistance Nest La Mare Mill, Saint Ouen
  4. Strongpoint Corbiere, La Corbière Point, St. Brelade
  5. Batterie Lothringen, Noirmont Point, Saint Brelade
  6. 4.7cm Anti-Tank Gun Casemate,  Millbrook, Saint Lawrence

All entrances charges the Military Museum are included in the price of the tour and  bunker entries will be collected on the day if access to bunker interiors is available.

Please see the separate Places section below to see the locations which are included in this tour.

You can also Click the Map icon (below main image in grey bar to the right) to view locations and see further information

History Alive’s and Jersey Military Tours are devised in a way to give our guests an overall and enjoyable experience which means that we won’t always follow the same route or stop for the same time at each stop. This also gives us the ability to make changes either to take advantage of, or to mitigate against, factors such as weather or other delays which might affect timing. On full day tours, we stop at lunch times where refreshments/food can be purchased, and on all tours, we will stop as necessary for refreshments and comfort breaks.

Our Tours are a combination of a coach tour and exploring the sites on foot, so please refer to the Level of Fitness required to enjoy these Tours. For that, and for what’s included in these Tours and Prices, as well as Pick-Up points for the Tours, please see Information below

Please note that we offer a  more general interest The German Occupation – Life in Jersey Tour which runs for a  full day.

 

Places in German Fortifications – Hilter’s fatally flawed fortress madness

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