Campaign launched by local German activists to stop historic Nazi bunker turned into flats and houses

Campaign launched by local German activists to stop historic Nazi bunker turned into flats and houses

Photo story:  (Clockwise from top) (1) Lousberg Bunker walls riddled with bullet and shell marks of WWII, (2) Lousberg Bunker to be demolished to make way for surrounding housing, (3) American M1919 machine gun crew firing against German defenders in Aachen, 15th October, 1944.

On 21st October, 1944, U.S. forces conquered one of the largest urban battles in WWII, the Battle of Aachen. The allies captured the first city on German soil after 19 day long battle. The Nazi troop’s effort to defend the city proved to be futile. The massive Lousberg Bunker on one side of a street in Aachen was a Wehrmacht command centre. It was a costly battle where both Americans and Germans suffered over 5,000 casualties each and 5,600 more Germans were taken prisoners.

Siegfried Line was the 630 Km long German barbed wired defense system with more than 18,000 bunkers, tank traps and tunnels. The Lousberg Bunker, Aachen was an important part of the fortification. It was build to house over 1,400 soldiers and civilians. Its thick concrete walls still show the marks of massive shelling that was required to throw out the Nazi autocracy. A slab on one of the walls of the bunker says ‘On 21st October, 1944 the Nazi dictatorship ended for Aachen & freedom and democracy began.’

As a memorial to the thousands of Allied soldiers who died in the battle and as a reminder to the bloodstained history of WWII, the locals launched campaigns to preserve the war-scarred bunker. A professor of building construction and preservation, Cristoph Schulten said that the bunker was special and that it was ‘a part of us’. He is one of the spearheads of the campaign to save the bunker. He said that it was a reminder of the war. He also said that the young generation had been removed far from the war and they needed to have some reminder. ‘And to ensure it never happens again’, Schulten said.

Federal Government sold the bunker to a private developer firm in 2012. The firm announced their plans to demolish it and build apartments, houses and two underground garages. The campaigners mobilized protests against local councilors and also launched online petitions and Facebook page. Hermann Tucks, one of the campaigners said the bunker had been German army’s nerve center in one of the bitterest battles for the city. City spokesman Axel Costard said that the move would be difficult to make as they would have to reckon with ‘Compensating the investor who paid millions for the site’.


The reports

Mohammad Rafi Saad

Mohammad Rafi Saad is one of the authors writing for WAR HISTORY ONLINE