The Atlantic Wall was a set of fortifications built by the German army from 1941 to 1944, from northern Norway to the Bay of Biscay, to prevent any possible Allied landings. In a new documentary, France 2 looks back this evening on the construction of the Atlantic Wall, a gigantic wall built on Hitler's order and which made French companies prosper ...
With the renunciation, thought to be temporary, of invading England, Germany - which throws a large part of its forces on the Russian front - intends to prevent any landing by means of a line of fortifications. Originally, the option considered was not to build an ensemble along the entire coastline, but only to establish a belt of bunkers around the main ports, which would not only make it possible to fix the enemy, but also to put on fast and powerful counter-offensives. However, the arrival of Rommel, at the head of Army Group B in France in 1943, changed the strategic concept which had until then presided over the construction of the Atlantic Wall. Indeed, aware of the weakness of the Luftwaffe and even more of the lack of depth of the device, Rommel is convinced that the battle, in the event of a landing, will be won on the beaches. So he decides to increase the number of fortifications.
The Atlantic Wall, a monument of collaboration
In March 1944, there were just around 10,000 fortified redoubts on the French coast, from Dunkirk to the Spanish border. At the same time, the Germans laid many mines on the beaches and planted Rommel "asparagus", namely poles 3 to 4 m high, connected by wires, which, when entering. contact with them, set off explosives - this in order to avoid the landing of gliders. This gigantic construction effort requires a very large workforce. Nearly 175,000 French workers are required as part of the Todt organization in order to successfully complete the Atlantic Wall. But despite this, the wall was not finished in June 1944. Above all, convinced that the Allies would land in the Pas-de-Calais, where the distance with England is the weakest, the German general staff has voluntarily reinforced the defenses north of Le Havre to the detriment of the Normandy coast, which also lacked coastal batteries capable of preventing Allied ships from approaching. Nevertheless, notwithstanding its limits, the Atlantic Wall was a major obstacle for the Allies when they landed on June 6, 1944.
The Atlantic Wall, documentary by Jérôme Prieur, Thursday November 18 at 10:50 pm on France 2.