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 in charged for the construction and about 10,000 slave workers from Neuengamme concentration camp were used to build the bunker. The prisoners were housed near the bunker in a satellite camp subordinated to Neuengamme called Bremen-Farge. How many people died while building the bunker is difficult to determine, but probably several thousand. Valentin was the second largest bunker the Germans built for submarines, only the one in Brest, France, was larger. Valentin is 35,375 square meters, which corresponds to about five football fields. The idea was that XXI submarines were to be assembled in the bunker and then through the adjacent Weser River go to sea. 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 before the war ended in May 1945.

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 to high operating costs it was sold and the navy moved out 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 pre-booked an appointment. 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 shot for the film, Das Boot (1981).

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