The Atlantic Wall (Book) Review

by Jack Beckett - War History Online
The Atlantic Wall

Released: 30th September 2012
RRP: 25.00
Publisher: Pen and Sword Books Ltd
Author: JE Kaufmann, HW Kaufmann, A Jankovic-Potocnik and Vladimir Tonic
Type: Hardback
ISBN: 978184884387 5
Pages: 384

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If you have been anywhere along the coastline of Europe in territory which had been occupied by the Nazis you will come across the concrete relics of their determination to stay put. Lets not mince words; some of these structures are marvels of engineering and architecture as much as they are a testament to the efforts of the people who sought to kick the Nazis out. Bunkers, call them what you like, are very blokey edifices. We like to ferret around in them, climb on them, pat them and nod in approval. There is something very assuring about them even when they represent a horrible tyranny like the occupation of a whole continent by Nazi Germany. Now, many have been swallowed up by dunes or turned into yacht stores. Some are museums or monuments. A good few are so bloody big nothing can be done with them, while some have actually been demolished.

I happen to like exploring and photographing them and recording a genuine piece of history. I keep in mind another aspect, the tens of thousands of slave labourers whose only victory was survival. If you’ve been to the imposing V2 rocket factory at Watten you will have seen memorials to the many nationalities who built it and the thousands who died at the hands of their guards or when the Allies bombed it out of use. Success always has a price.

This immense book actually takes on the feel of a lump of reinforced concrete from the bunkers it describes. Packed with information, beautiful drawings, maps and diagrams, it almost defies a standard review. I am not an architect and I haven’t visited a bare percentage of the locations covered in the book. So, I am not sure I can really do the authors justice. What I can say is this is a genuinely studious but entertaining work of great passion which sounds contradictory, but the point is the authors are enjoying themselves while not messing about.

This is not a place by place guide, but a detailed look at the way the Germans set about constructing defensive works in depth and also the manner in which they built specialised factory sites such as the aforementioned Watten. To do this the authors must have put in some serious legwork and the surveying they have done is excellent. I am genuinely gobsmacked at all of this. I cannot recommend this book highly enough to you.

Click here to see the full review at War History Online

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