The Atlantic Wall: History and Guide

The Atlantic Wall: History and Guide

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This WWII history and visitor’s guide explores the extensive network of Nazi fortifications built to defend Fortress Europe.

Hitler's Atlantic Wall, the complex system of coastal fortifications that stretched from Norway to the Spanish border during the Second World War, was built to defend occupied Europe from Allied invasion. Many of its principal structures survive and can be visited today. This authoritative guide provides both practical information for visitors and essential historical context.

The wall, which was constructed on a massive scale between 1942 and 1944 by German engineers, forced laborers and troops, consisted of strong points, artillery casemates, bunkers, troop shelters, minefields, anti-tank and anti-boat obstacles. It also included the concrete U-boat and E-boat pens in the key ports and, behind the Channel coast, the V-weapon sites. This huge scheme of fortifications was one of the longest series of defensive lines in military history.

This comprehensive volume takes readers and visitors through the entire story of the fortifications from the fall of France to the D-Day invasion on the beaches of Normandy that finally broke through. As a guide to some of the most impressive relics of the Second World War, this book is essential reading for travelers or anyone interested in the liberation of occupied Europe.

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Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781783378388
Publisher: Pen & Sword Books Limited
Publication date: 09/19/2012
Sold by: Barnes & Noble
Format: NOOK Book
Pages: 384
Sales rank: 1,102,402
File size: 34 MB
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About the Author

J.E. Kaufmann, H.W. Kaufmann, A. Jankovie-Potoenik, Vladimir Tonieare a group of historians and authors whose expertise lie in the history of the Atlantic Wall and how it stands today.

Table of Contents

Acknowledgements ix

Glossary of Terms x

Chapter 1 Prelude to Stagnation 1

Failure in the Battle of Britain 2

Construction of a Battery Position 10

Construction of Large and Small Bunkers 12

Early Building and Bombing of Fortified Positions 12

Aircraft and Aircraft Ordnance 17

Building the U-boat Pens 20

S-boat and R-boat Pens 30

Kriegsmarine Coastal Command 33

Chapter 2 Testing the German Defences, 1940-1942 34

Commando Raids 34

The French Coast 45

German Forces in the West, 1941-1943 48

Obersbefehlshaber West Defends the West 54

Chapter 3 Creating the Atlantic Wall 68

The Führer Reacts 68

Hitler's Directives and Orders for Building an Atlantic Wall 72

The OT and RAD 83

Chapter 4 The Strategic Value of the Atlantic Wall 88

Supporting Germany's Offensive Moves, 1941-1945 88

Super-bombs of the European Theatre 89

German Submarines and Surface Raiders 92

The Luftwaffe's Aerial Threat 99

Securing Germany's Fronts, 1942-1945 102

What to Defend? 104

Chapter 5 Guns and Bunkers 111

What was the Atlantic Wall? 111

Bunker Construction and Types 113

The Big Gun Positions 148

Foreign Artillery in German Service 161

Atlantic Wall Artillery Batteries 166

Chapter 6 Bunkers and Beaches 169

Bunkers and Organization for Defence 169

Features of a Bunker 169

The German Infantry Company and Platoon in Coastal Defence 172

The Atlantic Wall: France to the Netherlands 179

Coast and Port Defence 182

Supplementing the Fortifications 198

Defending the Foreshore and the Beaches 200

Fortress Norway 209

From the Dutch Coast to the Danish Coast 216

Chapter 7 Special Equipment and Weapons 219

Magic Beams and Bouncing Waves 219

German Radar Development 220

The First Line of Defence: Naval Mines 227

Kriegsmarine and Anti-Invasion Fleet Operations 233

V-Weapons 239

Chapter 8 The Allies Prepare, The Germans React 249

Invasion Plans 249

Special Allied Equipment 253

Intelligence Failure 256

Organization of the German Defences in Norway, 1944-1945 258

The Hinge of the Atlantic Wall 261

Heligoland Island Fortress 262

The Südwall 266

Chapter 9 Invasion: D-Day, 6 June 1944 269

Before the Assault on the Atlantic Wall 269

The German Army at D-Day 272

German Order of Battle, 6 June 1944 276

Allied Order of Battle, 6 June 1944 277

Allied Assault on the Atlantic Wall 278

Beach Areas 284

Wn-5 vs the 4th US Division 288

Losses 300

Chapter 10 Consolidation 304

Capturing a Port 304

Expanding and Supporting the Beachhead 306

Clearing the Kriegsmarine from the Channel 307

Bullets and Beans 309

Rolling up the Atlantic Wall 311

Festung Garrisons 321

Final Surrender 321

What If? 324

Chapter 11 Guide 325

The Blue Line Tour 330

The Gold Line Tour 337

Appendix Bombing Results of Operation Venerable 342

Notes 346

Bibliography 355

Index 362

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