The Netherlands / Fortification
When Canadian soldiers liberated the area around the village of Groede on October 25, 1944, they were astounded to find a well-camouflaged German 'bunker village' that was part of the Atlantikwall. It resembled a typical village with streets and houses, but it actually was Stützpunkt Groede.
In 1941, the German occupying forces began the construction of the Atlantikwall. This defensive line consisted of bunkers, artillery and minefields, and ran from Norway to the France-Spain border. The fortifications were centred around strategic points like the Scheldt estuary. A little further inlands, the defensive works were supported by tank barricades, minefields and support stations such as Stützpunkt Groede.
Stützpunkt Groede housed a German artillery unit. 250 troops were stationed here. It was designed to resemble small village, complete with small streets and lawns. Due to its location in the flatlands, the eleven bunkers were camouflaged as houses, shops or stables. The bunkers had roofs, and painted-on doors and windows. They had names like ‘Villa Saarland’, ‘Villa Freundlich’ and ‘Villa Mosselland’. The Stützpunkt was used to support the coastal defences and for a possible overland attack. It was self-sustaining and included a kitchen unit, dressing station, hospital, and bunkers for personnel and ammunition.
It wasn't until they approached the bunker village during Operation Switchback that the Canadians discovered they were in a well-camouflaged Stützpunkt. The Germans surrendered without a fight. By the way, with the operation Switchback the 3rd Canadian Infantry Division and the 4th Canadian Armoured Division had to clear the south side of the Westerschelde with the German 64th Infantry Division, the so-called "Breskens pocket". It would be one of the most difficult operations in western Europe.
For years the bunkers were buried under a thick layer of earth and hidden in scrubland. The bunker village is now part of the park of Groede Podium. The bunkers are unique and still in a good condition. Even the paintwork used by the military to camouflage the bunkers is still visible.
Visit the Zeeuwse Ankers website (Zeeland Anchors) for comprehensive information, personal stories and videos about the Battle of the Scheldt.
Gerard de Moorsweg 4, 4503 PD Groede