The Hague and the Atlantic Wall

From the summer of 1941, Hitler moved ever more troops to fight the Soviet Union on the Eastern Front. At the same time, however, Nazi Germany was expecting a sea-borne Allied invasion in the west. The solution to the dilemma was the construction of the Atlantic Wall between 1942 and 1945. The ‘Wall’ was actually a series of concrete bunkers, manmade barriers and natural obstacles like cliffs and rocks, stretching along five thousand kilometres of North Sea and Atlantic coast from northern Norway to the Spanish border.

Working on the Atlantic Wall

The Germans made it mandatory for the city authorities to provide manpower. A Hague man called Gerard van Duijn was conscripted to work on the anti-tank ditch. He kept a diary. It shows, for example, that he was paid 55 cents an hour and that labourers had to provide their own working clothes. Gerard also provided his own spade, plate and spoon.

It was heavy work: lifting concrete blocks and tree trunks by hand and pushing wagons. But the men joked amongst themselves and the food was fairly good.