Valentin Bunker

In 1943, the Germans began building a large submarine factory in Rekum called Valentin about twenty kilometres north of Bremen. Organization Todt was responsible for the construction and about 10,000 slave workers from Neuengamme were used to build the bunker. The prisoners were housed near the bunker in a satellite camp to Neuengamme called Bremen-Farge. How many people died in the work with the bunker is difficult to determine, but it certainly amounts to thousands. Valentin was the second largest bunker the Germans set up for submarines, only the one in Brest, France, was larger. Valentin is 35,375 square meters, which corresponds to about five football pitches. The idea was for XXI submarines to be assembled in the bunker and then run out into the adjacent Weser River. The bunker was bombed in late March 1945 by both british and american bombers, causing extensive damage to nearby installations such as storage rooms and workshops while the damage to the bunker was minor. Valentin was never completed and used because of the war didn’t proceed in Germany’s favor.

Current status: Preserved with museum (2011).

Address: Rekumer Siel 6, 28777 Bremen.

Get there: Car.

My comment:

There is nothing left of the prison camp, but next to the bunker there is a memorial for the slave workers who were used in the construction. In 1960 the bunker was taken over by the German navy but due. it sold high operating costs and the fleet left the bunker in 2010. The idea is that the bunker will become a museum but in May 2011 it was only possible to visit the bunker’s interior if you booked an appointment in advance (see Bremen’s tourist office’s official website). The more famous submarine bases are otherwise in France. It was from bases in Brest, Lorient, St Nazaire, La Rochelle and Bordeaux along the French Atlantic coast that the submarines were commissioned. All of these are preserved but with varying accessibility. In La Rochelle some scenes were filmed for the film, Das Boot (1981).

Follow up in books: Blair, Clay: Hitler’s U-Boat War: The Hunted: 1942-1945 (1996).