Atlantikwall

Bunker by Paul Virilio

While it might resemble a Bauhaus version of an Easter Island Moai, the above structure is actually a World War II bunker in France and part of the Atlantikwall which was an extensive system of coastal fortifications built by the German Third Reich in the early 1940’s along the western coast of Europe to defend against an anticipated Allied invasion of the continent from Great Britain. The photograph is one of a series taken by Paul Virilio, a renowned French urbanist, political theorist, and art critic, for his book Bunker Archeology.

The Morning News has an interesting essay from Virilio’s book about this ghostly architecture that haunts France’s coastline with an accompanying slideshow of his eerie black and white photographs. (The Frightening Beauty of Bunkers) He writes:

These concrete blocks were in fact the final throw-offs of the history of frontiers, from the Roman limes to the Great Wall of China; the bunkers, as ultimate military surface architecture, had shipwrecked at lands’ limits, at the precise moment of the sky’s arrival in war; they marked off the horizontal littoral, the continental limit. History had changed course one final time before jumping into the immensity of aerial space.

As a kid growing up, I recall climbing on similar structures an ocean away at Horseneck Beach in Westport, MA and in my teen years on Dutch Island in Narragansett Bay, Rhode Island while sailing on the SSV Tabor Boy. While ours never saw the “action” that Virilio’s did, they still left an strong impression on a young mind about the war that wasn’t so many years before.

Make sure you visit The Morning News and read Virilio’s essay and check out his beautiful photographs.

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Peter A. Mello

Husband, father, son. Lifelong mariner, student of leadership, photographer. Professional creative placemaker.

One thought on “Atlantikwall”

  1. Fantastic pix, Paul Virilio is an interesting chap, Im making models at the moment and could certainly get something from these structures.As he says, who needs brutalism etc when one has things like these. Acually even Napoleonic fortifications have a wonderfully modern air about them.

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