2014, 100 years after the beginning of the First World War. It may sound as ancient history, but the centenary of the Great War has brought memories and stories back of the battles, the deaths of brave soldiers and the demolitions. In the context of this significant event and the artillery and defense structures used, Little artnecdotes will briefly discuss the remains of the huge defense line built for WW2, the Atlantikwall.
The wall was a 2685-kilometer line of defense, which Nazi Germany built to prevent an Allied invasion in the occupied territories during World War II. The Atlantikwall ran from Norway, via Denmark, the Netherlands and Belgium to France to the border with Spain. The defense line, which was actually never completed, consisted entirely of bunkers, cannonry and minefields. Raversijde, here in Ostend, is an excellent reminder of this period of time and marks a part of the Belgian coastline.
The certain beauty of this kind of architecture is fascinating and somewhere appealing. Abandoned in most cases, they look a bit alien-like and ghostly due to their form and massive size.
That fascination and wonder is shared by Belgian photographer Stephan Vanfleteren (1969). Earlier in 2014 he published Atlantic Wall (2014), a book with pictures of the crumbling Atlantikwall in his famous black and white style. Vanfleteren shows with these series his wonder for the unintentional architectural beauty of these concrete structures and reflects on the power of nature that finally finds a way to slowly ruin this impervious edifice.
These bunkers are worth examining and analyzing. Philosopher and cultural theorist Paul Virilio (1932) shared this thought. In his 1975 study Bunker Archeology Virilio turns his attention to the ominous bunkers abandoned along the coast of France. These reminders of oppression and destruction prompted the Frenchman to consider the nature of existence and war. He discusses military structures as fortresses as well as the bunkers themselves, including an analysis of the role of Hitler’s architect, Albert Speer. Bunker Archeology is a fascinating examination of those ghostly looking bunkers that will remind us in the next century of the battles, destructions and oppression of war from a distant past.