France invaded, the German forces launch an attack against the Russians,
leaving a dozen of divisions on the Western coasts of Europe. However,
the German officers precisely expect a landing in the West of Europe
which would force the Axis armies to disengage the Russian front.
To prevent any
landing, the Germans call upon the Organization Todt, a military
company specialized in military constructions with vocation, like
casemates, roads borrowed by armoured, etc. Dice 1941, works start
opposite England, once the German attempt to invade England (Operation
Sealion) is cancelled by Hitler. Concrete fortifications are built
from Norway to the Spanish Country and allong the Mediterranean
coast in France, accompanied by minefields, thousands of kilometers
of barbed wires, flame throwers, machine guns, anti-tank ditches…
defenses on the Norman coasts (allied reconnaissance aircraft
fortification, very quickly called the “Atlantic Wall”,
is reinforced in priority zones, opposite England for example, in
Pas-de-Calais, where an landing is more than probable according
to the German generals. Coastal batteries are built at key places
of the coasts, to protect a port or an estuary.
German gun pointed towards the sea.
In August 1942, the Allies organize a “test” raid at Dieppe
which fails because of the lack of reinforcements. The German staff
officers become aware of the major risk to dismantle the coasts
of the North-West of Europe: thus, 150000 men of the German 15th
Army stay in the Pas-de-Calais.
Asparaguses ”, wood beams having to destroy the landing
January 1944, Rommel (called “the desert fox” since
his victories in North Africa) is nervous. Under the orders of von
Rundstedt, he is responsible of a difficult sector: the Norman coast,
opposite the coasts of England.
German guettor looks with his binoculars towards the sea.
estimates that the defence system of his sector is not enough: he
then decides to flood the meadows to prevent the arrival of parachutists,
piles generally mined were planted on the Normandy beaches, intended
to prevent the landing of sailplanes (the same device was installed
inside the grounds) and the accosting of landing crafts. His experiment
of the North Africa battles is beneficial for him and he knows that
if the Allies manage to land on the coasts controlled by the Germans,
it is not thinkable of being able to make them return to England
tobrouk armed with two machine-guns MG 42.
A mined pile, intended to prevent any air or naval landing.
Thus works increase
mainly from the coasts of Northern France to Holland. But Germany
is still in war in Soviet Union and Italy: these two fronts need
a very important quantity of various raw materials and military
The Todt organization
launches several operations of raking in all Europe to recover the
maximum of material which can be useful for it during the building
of this gigantic “Atlantic Wall”.
defenses called “Czech Hedgehogs”. Their role is
to destroy the landing crafts.
and like elsewhere, the Germans built coastal artillery batteries
strongly armed and protected by strongpoints. Between Barfleur and
Le Havre, There are not less than six batteries: those of Merville,
Long-sur-Mer, the Pointe du Hoc, Maisy, Azeville and Crisbecq. They
are able to fire up to 30 kilometers and strongly worry the Allies.
German blockhouse camouflaged in a Norman house to mislead the
Atlantic Wall is not only composed of blockaus and minefields. Very
many radar tracking stations are placed on all the littoral from
Norway to Spain, as well as stations of listening. There are, between
Cherbourg, Vire and Le Havre: 1 identification radar , 2 “Freya”
type radars, 5 long range coastal radars, 7 mid-range radars and
14 “Wurzburg” type giant radars. Often, these radars
are coupled with anti-aircraft guns, for example 88 mm guns.
of trenches leading to a bunker above the beach.
counter-attack in case of a landing in Normandy, the German military
forces have three armoured divisions and a regiment of parachutist,
in addition to the traditional divisions of infantry laid out along
These last are in general made up of units withdrawn from the Eastern
front and placed to Normandy so that the soldiers who can have a
German gun of 50 mm assembled on tobrouk near the Merville battery.
Germans who are in Normandy are regularly bombarded by the Allies.
These bombardments often touch coastal objectives and recalls the
German soldiers that the war is not over yet.
It seems clear however that the Allies will try to open a front
in the West of Europe. But where and when?
German sentinel scans the horizon, near his bunker of Mers-les-Bains.
to the Normandy landings menu