Germany / Fortification

​​High-rise bunker




​​This bunker was built in 1941 and used for civil air-raid protection from 1942 onwards. With its small size and unusual pentagonal footprint, it is a striking feature of the current streetscape. At the moment can only be visited from the outside.​

​​After the first air raids on German territory in 1940, an "urgent programme for the protection of the civilian population" was initiated. This classified Aachen as a particularly endangered city due to its location. On this basis, in January 1941 the first work on air-raid shelters began. High bunkers were preferred as they required less costs and materials. For camouflage reasons, the bunkers needed to blend in with the surrounding buildings as much as possible. With 15 high bunkers, some of which were built as a ring around the medieval city centre, Aachen was the city with the highest bunker density in terms of population among the cities surveyed in the German Reich.

The bunker at the corner of Scheibenstraße and Wittekindstraße, within sight of the medieval Ponttor, was built from 1941 onwards according to designs by the Finance Construction Office. For this construction, as for all other bunkers in the city area, prisoners of war were used from December 1941 onwards (at the latest). In this case, they came from the Prisoner of War Construction and Labour Battalion 25. From 1942, the three-storey building with a pentagonal base was used as a civilian shelter. Due to the unusual ground plan for bunker buildings, the often polygonal rooms were grouped around a triangular staircase. However, with only 250 berths in an area of 655 m2, the bunkerwass one of the smallest but at the same time most expensive shelters of this kind in the city. Why the shelter was still built in this form is not documented.

From 1946 to 1948, the building served as emergency accommodation for about 40 families. Later, the building was intended for de-sheltering (the removal of protection installations to make it fit for modern-day alternative use, for example as an event venue). The plans and estimated costs for this de-sheltering are known (approx. 520,000 DM), but the work was never carried out, for unknown reasons.

In 2003 the building, which is privately owned, was listed by the city of Aachen as an example of Germany's architectural history under Nazi rule. The floor coverings, air-raid doors, metal doors to individual rooms and some sanitary rooms have been preserved to this day. Later additions can be easily recognised as such. Wall breakthroughs and demolitions on the upper floors have created larger rooms. Of the original technical installations, the heating system and a turbine of the ventilation system have been preserved to this day. The building can usually only be visited from the outside.

Wittekindstr. 1​, 52062, Aachen