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Wartime German bunkers could become ‘heritage sites’

IJmuiden’s controversial proposal

Tags: Excerpts from the Windmill

IJMUIDEN - City officials of this North Holland community which was hard hit during World War II, have nominated a number of coastline German bunkers as a Dutch National Heritage Site. Because of the role the bunkers played in recent local history, the plan has met with much scorn.

Opponents of the nomination point to the intended use of the bunkers, which was to keep the Liberators of the Netherlands at bay. In their zest to create an Atlantic Fortress, the Germans razed a large part of IJmuiden, one of the prominent ports on the North Sea and with the North Sea Canal the gateway to Amsterdam. Other coastal towns also had entire residential districts razed to accommodate fortress works.

City council however is committed to the nomination initiative. They also are looking for tenants of these concrete structures of which many are badly in need of repairs.


The bunkers are located in the dunes near the beach and were called Heerenduin and Olmen batteries by the Germans. Each battery consists of fourteen bunkers with trenches and a dozen periferal buildings used to house troops and radar installations.

If and when these bunkers are included in the growing list of National Heritage Sites, the structures will not be dug up and fenced in. A heritage designation only prevents demolition or structural changes.

A project group of the heritage committee will investigate if any remnants of the German occupation (1940-1945) should be included in the Heritage Site list at all. If such a step is taken, only the ‘best’ sites will be considered.

A German-built concrete slab road leading to IJmui-den’s dunes is not part of the proposed Heritage Site. It is contemplated however, to use the road as an alternative entrance to the dunes and shore. Environmental groups oppose the suggestion.