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The Last Stand
February 4, 2014 12:59 PM   Subscribe

Marc Wilson’s series The Last Stand documents the remains of coastal fortifications that lined Northern Europe during the Second World War — bunkers swallowed by the sea, pillboxes barely clinging to land, buildings ripped from their foundations and wrecked on the rocks — from Allied positions on England’s east coast and the far tip of the Northern Isles, to the once German-occupied archipelago of the Channel Islands and the remains of the Atlantikwall, the colossal Nazi defense network which stretched from Norway to Spain.
Slideshow
posted by infini (8 comments total) 18 users marked this as a favorite

 
If this kind of stuff is your thing, I can highly recommend a visit to the Openluchtmuseum Atlantikwall near Oostende in Belgium.
posted by brokkr at 1:12 PM on February 4 [1 favorite]


Too practical. Too rational.

Give me Enver Hoxha's insane fantasy any day.
posted by R. Schlock at 1:25 PM on February 4 [2 favorites]


These are excellent, thank you. I love the use of a long exposure to render parts of the landscape indistinct while leaving the fortifications sharp as a tack. Really makes the passage of time click.
posted by BlackLeotardFront at 1:26 PM on February 4 [1 favorite]


I've been to one of the bunkers in southern France. This one I think, if not it, then nearby. I do recall that it was heavily covered in graffiti and was partly filled with rubbish. I looked out from inside... could not imagine trying to work my way uphill to the thing when it was manned and armed. (This was over 20 years ago so my memory is a bit fuzzy but we drove north from San Sebastian for the day, so it can't have been much farther north than Biarritz.)

It was weird. I was kind of shocked at seeing it, history right in front of me, but the locals just ignored it because they saw it every day. Lucky to have grown up someplace that was never directly impacted by the war the way Europe was.
posted by caution live frogs at 2:00 PM on February 4


There's a line of bunkers just south of IJmuiden in the Netherlands, which are used by the local climbing community for bouldering. It's a fun afternoon out, but it's a bit strange when you remember what they were built for.

Also, in the middle of the main channel at IJmuiden, you'll find a fortified island. It was originally built in the 19th century, but was reworked by the Germans during WW2. It's still very impressive.
posted by daveje at 2:33 PM on February 4 [1 favorite]


Marc Wilson's The Last Stand, previously.
posted by zamboni at 2:35 PM on February 4 [1 favorite]


Beautiful.

From the article: "You maybe get ten minutes... before the sun has come up above the horizon but you have some light, a very soft grey and blue."

Early effin bird.
posted by morganw at 3:14 PM on February 4


Thank you; this is a good project.

It's not just Europe. America's coastal fortifications were also built up in WWII, if rarely used. I grew up near Sandy Hook, NJ, which is loaded down with battlements; some date from as far back as the Revolution, War of 1812, and the Spanish-American War, but more were added or modified for WWII - a secret command center for the defense of New York City was located there. When a friend of mine, who was a Navy brat and had grown up on bases around the world, visited me there for the first time, he said "This looks like Normandy." Other WWII battlements on the East Coast can be found at Napatree Point in RI, Fort Miles in DE, Battery AMTB in Galveston, TX, and a bunch on the West Coast I've never seen. World War II transformed coasts around the world.

I grew up climbing and playing on these battlements, daring people to go into them with (or without flashlights), goofing off and reading graffiti and stepping around spent condoms and such. Eventually I took a few of the National Park Service tours which explain their mechanics, structure, purpose, and history. They were such a normal feature of certain places at the beach that it took me a long time to understand what they represented.
posted by Miko at 6:30 PM on February 4 [1 favorite]


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