André Ruiter Historic Landscapes

Festung

Atlantic Wall fortifications along the coast of Holland

About the project

The Atlantic Wall (German: Atlantikwall) was an extensive system of coastal defences and fortifications built by Nazi Germany during the Second World War. It was built between 1942 and 1944, along the coast of Europe and Scandinavia as a defence against an anticipated Allied invasion of Nazi-occupied Europe.

My impression was that little was left of the fortifications in The Netherlands. Destroyed after the war or hidden under the sand. The few remains in inaccessible nature reserves or covered with graphite. It didn't invite to start a photo project about the fortifications.

After I completed my projects Water as Weapon and Grebbe Line 1940, I needed a new project in The Netherlands. I decided to visit some locations of the Atlantic Wall to see if my preconceptions were correct. Nothing turned out to be further from the truth. There're a lot of interesting locations to be found in varied landscapes along the Dutch coast and on the Wadden Islands. The most fortifications can be found around port cities that were important to the German occupier, such as IJmuiden, which got the status of Festung. Locations which this classification became the most highly secured sectors of the Atlantic Wall.