U-Boat Base: Design and development

Like this previous article, I’m proposing you here a summary (and a little more) from a chapter of this little book: G. Williamson and Ian Palmer, U-Boat Bases and Bunkers 1941-45, Osprey Publishing, 2003.

The U-Boat Bunkers were only one aspect of the Germany’s development plan of defence construction. Even if the Admiral Rommel wrote in his memoir that “The Atlantic Wall was an incredible bluff, dedicated to the German people, neither to protect against a potential Allies landing”, the U-Boat Bunkers were real strong places under protections. Similar protective housing was planned to shelter S-Boote (E-Boats) and Räum-Boote (R-Boats) and to provide protected locks.

Firstly, the responsibility for providing these bunkers belong to the Naval Construction Department of the German Navy (Marinebauwesens), under the command of the Minister Eckardt. The U-Boat Bunker began to appear in France in 1941, “following the basic principles established during the construction […] of the Bruges U-Boat Basei. The construction of the U-Boat Bunkers depended on the Todt Organisation (OT), which was under the control of Dr Fritz Todt; whom thought about the defence construction’s plans in 1938. It has been estimated that over 300000 men were drafted into the OT. While some of the workers belonged to the OT or to subcontractors were paid, others were not paid prisoners and were living in camps. The workers, mostly the prisoners, worked in extremely dangerous conditions. Besides, the OT has its own armed security element, such as various commandos and “Police Regiment Todt”. After the death of Fritz Todt in 1942, the head chief has been Albert Speer whom worked in link with the “Deutsche Arbeits Front”. The DAF was the official Nazi state trade union. The constructions were never stopped before theirs ends, except by the Allies air raids. And Last but not least, we easily can understand why the selected sites where U-Bunkers were erected were often naval dockyards with tidal basins closed to the open sea.


Randolf Bradham, Hitler’s U-Boat fortresses, The Lyons Press, 2003, red. 2005.

Jack P. Mallmann Showell, Hitler’s U-Boat Bunkers, The History Press, 2002 red. 2010.

Colin Partridge, Hitler’s Atlantic’s Wall, Guernesey, 1976.

iGordon Williamson, op. cit.

The next guide-tour of the tidal basins of Bordeaux – Bacalan, will be the 27th of January 2013.


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