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Wednesday, August 7, 2013

West Wall Museum at Bad Bergzabern

This was my second attempt at visiting one of the West Wall's bunkers. My first attempt at Pirmasens turned out to be a very nice museum, but was not really a bunker. This one at Bad Bergzabern was a real bunker, although, as far as I am aware of, it did not see any combat and it did not have any dragon's teeth around it as I had envisioned them. Nonetheless it was a good and enlightening visit. The bunker has also been turned into a museum and the staff are helpful and knowledgeable. Let's take a look at what it has to offer.

This is the entrance to the bunker. It is located on its back side.

This is the main firing bay. Today it hosts a WWI howitzer. I don't know if that was also the equipment that it hosted during WWII. I would not be surprised as following the fall of France in 1940, this sector would not have deemed in need of the latest equipment which was better used at the actual battle fronts. The firing port is closed off today, where the photograph can be seen infront of the gun. Another interesting detail is the damage that can be seen around the firing port. As it turns out, that happened after the war as the US military used the bunker to conduct some tests with explosives from within the bunker.

A bit more detail of the supporting implements to operate and maintain the howitzer.

This shell was next to the howitzer, but I believe this is an 88mm shell.

Looks like the gun carriage/limber for the gun. Back then, despite Germany's blitzkrieg reputation, a lot of the artillery was still horse drawn.

This one is more likely the shell for the howitzer.

This is a rocket of the kind that were launched from the Sd Kfz 251, the German Halftrack which was also known as the 'Stuka zu Fuss' and carried 6 of them, 3 on each side mounted on the metal grid shown above.

An unlucky mortar in which the shell exploded prematurely.

A trunk filled with all sorts of tools and repairing equipment.

The sleeping quarters for the bunker crew.

Their eating area. Notice how the shelves are used to store the helmets and mess kits which were probably superfluous during everyday life within a bunker.

Now, here is an item that was an absolute necessity: the toilet. Since they could not flush it, notice how there is a mechanism to close the lid tightly.

Some artwork made by a Lansdser.

Sign warning soldiers not to be shocked by explosions within a bunker which can be very loud, because 'the west wall is built out of some of the best material in the world'.

A sign showing the rations that the bunker occupants were entitled to receive.

Signs warning that theft was punishable by death.

Some early machine gun model.

Looks like the tip of a 75mm gun. After the war it was sawed off the main gun and embedded in a concrete bucket.

Looking down the barrel... good thing it's not loaded!

The museum also had a few interesting pictures. This one for instance shows a bunker cammouflaged as a barn... quite a deadly trap for an enemy column moving up the road.

Another unique picture. Makes you wonder how many children met an early death or serious injury playing with such 'toys' just as the war was ending.

An observation turret of the kind that were installed outside the bunker.

This is an actual turret located behind the entrance to the bunker.

A close up of the schematic depicting the inside of the turret. Note that it was also a defensive position.

A scaled down layout of the bunker.
It has more rooms and compartments than one initially suspects.