Den Helder suffered badly during WWll. Both the harbour and nearby airport were used by the German navy. This made the city a target for air raids by the British, and later, the American air force. Apart from the navy, the German air and land forces were also present in Den Helder. The city became an important part of the Atlantic Wall, which was constructed in 37 different locations. A total of 88 sturdy bunkers were built, some of which still remain. You can learn all about this at the (Altantikwall Centrum) Atlantic Wall Centre.
The former German navy administrative building in Huisduinen – the Casino – now houses the Atlantic Wall Centre. In the centre you can find a lot of information about Den Helder during WWII. The Atlantic Wall Centre is also the starting point of the Atlantic Wall in the Wadden.
The building itself is a beautiful reflection of the history of the Atlantic Wall’s military heritage. The administrative building is one of the most impressive parts of the artillery maintenance complex that the Germans built on the former Galgenveld (gallows field) in Huisduinen. The village became a restricted area and all residents were forced to leave their homes, which were then occupied by German families.
After the war, there was no real interest in the complex. In 2009, the administrative building almost completely burned down. A new building was erected in the ruins to house the Atlantic Wall Centre. The result is a remarkable building, which makes history and transience tangible.
As in other places in the Netherlands, much of the Atlantic Wall in Den Helder disappeared after the war. But fortunately, several exceptional buildings survived. At the beginning of this century, one bunker and two building complexes were added to the list of national monuments: the communications bunker adjacent to the current station, the infirmary on the Nieuwe Weg and the artillery park in Huisduinen. Strangely enough, the Flakgruppencommandostand, commonly known as the ‘Kroontjesbunker’, is not on the list although it is the only one of its kind in Western Europe. This is also the case for the two bunkers of Battery Zanddijk near Strandslag Zandloper (path to the beach).
A few crew bunkers from the new southern front at Blauwe Keet are still visible, as is the last bit of anti-tank ditch with a bunker for flanking artillery at the very end. On the side, towards the dunes, a piece of dragon’s teeth obstacle can still be seen but the artillery bunkers are now buried in the sand. The Mammut bunker is located at Blauwe Keet, but it too is buried in the dune sand. The command bunker on the Nollenterrein is still there, as is the hospital bunker in the Timorpark. The anti-aircraft artillery battery at Fort Dirks Admiraal is also still intact.
A route has been created along the bunkers in Den Helder. The route map is available at Fort Kuikduin.