Here is the translation of this previous article « La Base sous-marine de Saint-Nazaire entre humanité et barbarie ». Though this article, I’ll propose you a movie review on this French documentary, which has this title in English » The submarine base of Saint-Nazaire between humanity and barbary » regarding as you might understand the Saint-Nazaire’s U-Bunker.
This is a good film, based on different materials such as archives documents, testimonies from people who worked in the building of the U-Boat pens of Saint-Nazaire and experts. Each archive image, extracted from black and white German’s films, is at first project on a U-Boat wall to show the difference between the past and present. This alternation through images from the 40’s to the recent’ ones, do not disturb the spectator, because there is no surplus of graphical effects like in plenty of videos nowadays. I found the transition effect quite interesting.
One regret nonetheless, regarding the form which at one moment could interrogate the spectator on the content. Like I wrote, at one moment, the Director is shooting railways on a dock, located on the 1st tidal basin, while one of the speaker is talking about the Germans railways constructions which were used to transport materials to and inside the Base. Well, filming railways on a dock, in front of a cold store and in front of two (railways) cranes could be seen as an anachronism. Of course, we all know that railways on docks have not been built by the Germans Army, as they have been made during the 19th Century. There is an other anachronism that could be seen, done by the same speaker (…), when he compared the railway network with the ones of the camps…
These remarks on the movie shape done, let see the place of History in this documentary. On an introduction, the movie maker comes back on the role of Saint-Nazaire during the 1st World War, where Americans soldiers landed without any weapons. It was the French Army who gave them the weapons ;). From Saint-Nazaire, they were sent to the front line. In 1940, “40000 English, Czechoslovakian and Polish soldiers” have been evacuated from the Port of Saint-Nazaire, like the “Dunkirk evacuation”. That’s why we can say that Saint-Nazaire was in 1940 “a litle Dunkirk”. Also the film reminds that the bigger maritime disaster of the 20th Century, where more than three thousand men (mostly soldiers) died when the Lancastria was sunk off Saint-Nazaire by some “Junker 88A”. One journal of maritime, precise that “the humans’ looses are huge, at least twice of the Titanic looses”.
The film remind us that, it was from Saint-Nazaire that le Jean-Bart left France the 19th of June 1940, just before the arrival in Nantes of the first German’s motorized troops. Three days after, the nazis arrived in Saint-Nazaire. I remember that, this unfinished warship didn’t had weapons and left Saint-Nazaire helped by towboats. That was such an exploit.
The geographic Saint-Nazaire’s location is excellent and the Germans decided to create in a base for theirs U-Boats. The movie, come back on the constructions of the Saint-Nazaire U-Bunker, which was made to protect U-Boats from Allies aerials’ attacks. During the 52 minutes, the movie-maker answers to the following questions:
- How the U-Bunker has been built and by who?
- How did it worked and what was its’ defenses?
- Which types of submarines and how many of them, have been based in Saint-Nazaire?
- Where were located the crewmen and the occupation’s forces?
Also, the movie presents the Saint-Nazaire raid and concludes on the De Gaulle arrival in Saint-Nazaire.
One documentary to see, because it’s follows an historical rigour while staying an attractive dvd-film.
Besides, if you would like to discover the Bases of Saint-Nazaire and Bordeaux:
For Saint-Nazaire, you should contact the Ecomusée.
For Bordeaux, you could contact the Ocean and Sea’s Association.
The Ecomusée of Saint-Nazaire and the Ocean and Sea’s Association of Bordeaux are organizing visits on/around the U-Bunkers.