The Netherlands / Fortification
Constructed by Nazi Germany, the Atlantikwall was a line of defence of more than 5000 kilometres in length to prevent an Allied invasion in the western occupied territories. The Atlantikwall stretched from Norway, Denmark, Germany, the Netherlands, and Belgium to France as far as the border with Spain.
The Atlantikwall was not a continuous system of defence works. Along the coast, defensive posts were built with great distances in between. The Atlantikwall formed a chain of coastal batteries, barricades, and bunkers. Line-ups and reinforcements were focused on strategic points such as ports, expected landing sites, and estuaries with access to the interior. As a result, the Scheldt gradually became one of the most heavily defended places in Europe. This highlighted the importance of the Antwerp port.
The Atlantikwall was never completed. After the invasion of Normandy on 6 June 1944, during which the Atlantikwall was breached, the construction was mostly halted. The defensive works played an important role in the Allied operations in Zeeland. Only taking out the Atlantikwall around the Scheldt Estuary would give the Allies access to the vital harbours of Antwerp.
Visit the Zeeuwse Ankers website (Zeeland Anchors) for comprehensive information, personal stories and videos about the Battle of the Scheldt.
Bunker Museum Zoutelande
The artillery was an important part of the Atlantikwall, as it could repel a possible future Allied invasion. Because some of this artillery did not require direct visual contact with the beach, the German occupiers built observation bunkers in the dunes and on the dykes. Two of those bunkers in the dunes of Zoutelande are now home to the ‘Bunkerbehoud’ Foundation and the Bunker Museum Zoutelande.