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Hitler's Atlantic Wall [Hardcover]

Anthony Saunders
4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)

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Book Description

25 July 2001
With the ever-growing interest in Hitler's Atlantic Wall, it comes as a surprise that so little has been written about it in the English language - until now, that is. In this, the first substantial work in English, author Tony Saunders takes a critical look at the history of the wall, how it was built, what was built and the role it played in the Second World War, together with a guide to what remains to see of it today in France. Hitler conceived the Atlantic Wall during the Second World War as a line of impregnable fortifications along the western coast of Europe to protect his newly conquered empire from seaborne invasion. From 1942 until the Allied invasion of Normandy in June 1944, millions of tons of steel-reinforced concrete were poured into the construction of gun emplacements, bunkers, flak batteries, radar stations, command and observation posts, as well as ammunition dumps and U-boat pens. This huge project stretched from the Franco-Spanish border in the south, following the French Atlantic coast north for 1,500 miles passing through Brittany, around the Cherbourg peninsula, along the coast of Normandy and extending right to the North Sea coasts of Belgium and Holland. More than 12,000 concrete structures were built, many of them so massive that they survive today despite being shelled by battleships, and resisting most post-war attempts by Allied army engineers to demolish them. They are now tourist attractions as well as the focus for a growing number of 'fortress' enthusiasts. Richly illustrated, the authoritative text is supported by a selection of contemporary photographs and plans - many rare or previously unpublished - and present-day photographs showing the amazing endurance of these monolithic fortifications.
--This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.


Product details

  • Hardcover: 224 pages
  • Publisher: Sutton Publishing Ltd (25 July 2001)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0750925442
  • ISBN-13: 978-0750925440
  • Product Dimensions: 25.2 x 17.8 x 1.8 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 1,079,413 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Product Description

About the Author

Anthony Saunders is the author of Weapons of the Trench War 1914-1918 (1999) and Dominating the Enemy 1914-1918 (2000). He is a graduate of Brunel University and worked in the Principal Directorate of Patents, MOD, for six years. He is now a freelance writer and editor with a specialist interest in the two world wars. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
33 of 33 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Something New on the Atlantic Wall 2 Nov 2001
By A Customer
Format:Hardcover
A number of books have been written on the topic of the Atlantic Wall and many simply provide the standard lists of bunker types and weapons with little else to fill in the gaps. The last good book on the topic in English was by Partridge, but Saunder's work takes a new approach and adds to the literature. In addition to the background information, the author has given a good description of the methods used for creating concrete for fortifications and the process on how the actual structures were constructed from creating the foundations to applying the camoflauge. Most books general ignore this and simply state the concrete was so many meters thick and certain features existed in the structure.
The book is primairly concerned with the sectors in France since this was where the Allies had contemplated their 2nd front. In addition to describing what the sectors included, the author gives a history of all of the fortresses from Royan to Dunkirk describing how they were reduced or neutralized.
There are only a few topics missing that might have been included such as the defenses of the Belgian coast and the Dutch islands such as Walchern since they became actively involved in the campaign. Although plans for every type of bunker built were not included, this would not have been practical in this type of book. The plans that are used are excellent and provide a good sampling. Many of the photos used seldom appear elsewhere or have never been used before and include many good examples of the fortifications during the war instead of after when they were disarmed and abandoned. The book provides a good history of the Atlantic Wall in France and serves as an excellent reference and I highly recommend it for the World War II enthusiast, military historians and those with a keen interest in fortifications.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Great book - wrong title! 6 April 2013
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
Although this is a well researched and illustrated book, its title is misleading.
It only covers the Atlantic Wall in FRANCE, with nothing on the Channel Islands,
Belgium, Netherlands, etc. The use of the term 'Atlantic Wall' is not generally limited to
the Atlantic coast of France, but applies to the whole string of defensive structures built
by the Germans in WW2 to defend the western coastline of Europe (north of Spain) against Allied attack.
'Atlantic' thus includes the English Channel, North Sea, etc.

The dustjacket of this book carries the words 'Fortress Europe: Hitler's Atlantic Wall',
creating the legitimate expectation of a far greater coverage than France alone. However, if
your interest does not extend beyond France itself, this book is excellent.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Kindle version is text only 12 Jun 2014
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
Having downloaded this when I saw it offered free on the Kindle I realised that I already have the hardback version of this book, but they are very different. The Kindle version is the text of the bigger book, but without the illustrations, maps & diagrams.

It is still a very good read as other reviewers have pointed out, a well written full account of the building of the Atlantic Wall in France. Without the figures it only rates four stars, but for free it's very nearly five.
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Amazon.com: 3.8 out of 5 stars  10 reviews
21 of 22 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Good Technical Survey 29 Jan 2002
By R. A Forczyk - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover
Hitler's Atlantic Wall is an excellent overview of the design, construction and defense of the German fortifications along the French coast in 1940-1944. The Atlantic Wall was intended to reduce German military weakness in the West and thereby deter or impede an Allied invasion. The book consists of nine chapters, including detailed sections on the design and building of the wall, the labor force and a very detailed section covering all the major batteries. Numerous excellent photographs and sketches of bunker designs supplement the text. There are two excellent appendices, which list all the different types of bunkers and all the major coastal batteries in France. Note that this book is for the specialist, primarily for military historians interested in greater detail on the Atlantic Wall or persons planning to visit D-Day sites in France, not for readers interested in a general historical perspective. There are only two weaknesses in the book, the most serious being a lack of any maps. The other weakness is that the book only discusses the Atlantic Wall in France, but does not discuss German coastal fortifications in Belgium, Holland or Norway.
There are a number of interesting statistics in this book. Construction on the Atlantic Wall began in late 1942 and by the summer of 1944, 11,500 bunkers of various sizes had been built at a cost of about $1.5 billion. About 5% of Germany's steel production went into the project. About 250,000 workers - mostly forced labor - were used in the project, but only 15,000 were German. The Todt Organization, a semi-independent agency under the Ministry of Armaments, built most of the wall and the German army, navy and air force had little control over the construction efforts. Indeed, the entire project was a tangle of bureaucratic and organizational in-fighting, since the wall was mostly designed by the three services, built by Todt, out-fitted by other organizations and finally manned by the services. There was little standardization in construction and over 43% of everything built was non-standard.
While the author's technical analysis is excellent, his conclusions are more contentious. He states, "to have built so much in so short a time along such a distance of coastline was indeed astonishing,..[but] it was built by slave labor.. [and] the truth is that it was ill-conceived." Noting the wall's failure, he states, "it took two years to build and two hours to breach. And once breached, the rest of it largely became redundant." Actually, the Germans never intended that the wall would defeat the invasion in itself, only that it would buy time for mobile reserves to move up and counterattack. There is little doubt that the resistance nests on Omaha Beach on 6 June 1944 brought the US landings to a virtual halt for several vital hours and the failure of the German armor to respond quickly was not the fault of the fortress troops but rather, Hitler, Rommel and von Runstedt. Also, the author's assertion that the wall tied up large amounts of German manpower in static defense and was a waste of resources is incorrect. The German army in France had been stripped to the bone because of the needs of the Russian Front, and there was no choice but to use fortifications as a combat multiplier. The argument that fixed defenses are a waste of time and resources could only be made by someone who has never been under air attack or artillery bombardment; the Germans knew that they were going to have to face an invasion someday. Had the Germans built more panzer divisions with that steel, as the author argues, most of those tanks would have gone to the Russian Front and the second rate divisions in France would have been fully exposed. Without the Atlantic Wall - imperfect though it might be - the Allied invasion probably would have achieved all it's D-Day objectives and then some. Furthermore, the delay and heavy casualties caused when the Allies began clearing the fortified ports had a larger effect on Allied strategy than the author suggests. The troops left behind in the ports were mostly low quality, but they tied down Allied troops and required an inordinate amount of firepower to eliminate. The author's contention that the wall was instigated by Hitler's "bunker mentality" is rather a cheap shot as well, since any military man would have recommended improving coastal defenses. The fact is that Germany was a resource-poor nation and it had to use reinforced concrete and slave labor in a desperate effort to keep retribution at bay.
11 of 11 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A New View of the Atlantic Wall 6 Nov 2001
By J.E. Kaufmann - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover
A number of books have been written on the topic of the Atlantic Wall and many simply provide the standard lists of bunker types and weapons with little else to fill in the gaps. The last good book on the topic in English was by Partridge, but Saunder's work takes a new approach and adds to the literature. In addition to the background information, the author has given a good description of the methods used for creating concrete for fortifications and the process on how the actual structures were constructed from creating the foundations to applying the camoflauge. Most books general ignore this and simply state the concrete was so many meters thick and certain features existed in the structure.
The book is primairly concerned with the sectors in France since this was where the Allies had contemplated their 2nd front. In addition to describing what the sectors included, the author gives a history of all of the fortresses from Royan to Dunkirk describing how they were reduced or neutralized.
There are only a few topics missing that might have been included such as the defenses of the Belgian coast and the Dutch islands such as Walchern since they became actively involved in the campaign. Although plans for every type of bunker built were not included, this would not have been practical in this type of book. The plans that are used are excellent and provide a good sampling. Many of the photos used seldom appear elsewhere or have never been used before and include many good examples of the fortifications during the war instead of after when they were disarmed and abandoned. The book provides a good history of the Atlantic Wall in France and serves as an excellent reference and I highly recommend it for the World War II enthusiast, military historians and those with a keen interest in fortifications.
13 of 14 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Hitler's pride ? 13 April 2002
By Patrick K. - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover
Living in the Netherlands 30 km's from the dutch coastline it's easy for me to take a look at the remnants of the Atlantic Wall. I bought this book because I wanted more details about specific parts of the Atlantic Wall and this book gave me just that. The details on the bunkers are numerous and there are a lot of pictures inside. I always thought that the Atlantic Wall was a formidable obstacle but when you read this book you can only conclude that the allied armies were lucky because the best defences were in the wrong place. The only thing that's missing in this book is the complete northern section of the Atlantic Wall (Belgium, the Netherlands and Denmark) so in my eyes this book is incomplete. Especially in the Netherlands there are a few very rare bunkers left and they are still in good condition. This book is the first of an entire series so I hope that the other authors won't make the same mistake that Anthony Saunders made.
Patrick Koestal
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Great Book 2 April 2013
By Anna D. Davis - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
I recommend this book for anyone interested in WWII & D-Day. The experience from the other side (German). Great insights to the beginning of the end.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A New View of the Atlantic Wall 7 Nov 2001
By A Customer - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover
A number of books have been written on the topic of the Atlantic Wall and many simply provide the standard lists of bunker types and weapons with little else to fill in the gaps. The last good book on the topic in English was by Partridge, but Saunder's work takes a new approach and adds to the literature. In addition to the background information, the author has given a good description of the methods used for creating concrete for fortifications and the process on how the actual structures were constructed from creating the foundations to applying the camoflauge. Most books general ignore this and simply state the concrete was so many meters thick and certain features existed in the structure.
The book is primairly concerned with the sectors in France since this was where the Allies had contemplated their 2nd front. In addition to describing what the sectors included, the author gives a history of all of the fortresses from Royan to Dunkirk describing how they were reduced or neutralized.
There are only a few topics missing that might have been included such as the defenses of the Belgian coast and the Dutch islands such as Walchern since they became actively involved in the campaign. Although plans for every type of bunker built were not included, this would not have been practical in this type of book. The plans that are used are excellent and provide a good sampling. Many of the photos used seldom appear elsewhere or have never been used before and include many good examples of the fortifications during the war instead of after when they were disarmed and abandoned. The book provides a good history of the Atlantic Wall in France and serves as an excellent reference and I highly recommend it for the World War II enthusiast, military historians and those with a keen interest in fortifications.
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