The Atlantic Wall – Fortress Europe

The Atlantic Wall shown in yellow.

The Atlantic Wall (German: Atlantikwall) was an extensive system of coastal defense and fortifications built by Nazi Germany between 1942 and 1944 along the coast of continental Europe and Scandinavia as a defense against an anticipated Allied invasion of Nazi-occupied Europe from Great Britain during World War II.

Hitler ordered the construction of the fortifications in 1942. Almost a million French workers were drafted to build it. The wall was frequently mentioned in Nazi propaganda, where its size and strength were usually exaggerated. The fortifications included colossal coastal guns, batteries, mortars, and artillery, and thousands of German troops were stationed in its defenses.  When the Allies eventually invaded the Normandy beaches in 1944, most of the defenses were stormed within hours. Today, ruins of the wall exist in all of the nations where it was built, although many structures have fallen into the ocean or have been demolished over the years.

Simultaneously, the term Festung Europa was being used by Nazi propaganda, namely to refer to Hitler’s and the Wehrmacht’s plans to fortify the whole of occupied Europe, in order to prevent invasion from the British Isles. These measures included the construction of the Atlantic wall, along with reorganization of the Luftwaffe for air defense. This use of the term Fortress Europe was subsequently adopted by correspondents and historians in the English language to describe the military efforts of the Axis powers at defending the continent from the Allies.

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German Military History with a focus on World War 2 History including other areas of German History

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