Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Hitler's Atlantic Wall: Should France preserve it?

Sections of Hitler's Atlantic Wall are being restored by French enthusiasts. But should the Nazi fortification be fully embraced as part of the country's heritage?

Along 800 miles (1,287km) of French coast lie some of the most substantial and evocative vestiges of war-time Europe.

The so-called Atlantic Wall - Hitler's defensive system against an expected Allied attack - stretched all the way from the Spanish border to Scandinavia.

Inevitably, it was in France that the most extensive building took place. Today there are still thousands of blockhouses, barracks and gun emplacements visible along the French shore.

But in France there has been no effort up until now to preserve this extraordinary historical landmark.

Elsewhere, World War II bunkers have been renovated as tourist attractions or for educational visits. The internet boasts Atlantic Wall fan sites in Germany and the Netherlands - and strong interest in the UK - but nothing in France.

It is as though the nation was relieved to see the German defences slide inexorably into the sands - and oblivion. more