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Kazemattenmuseum Kornwerderzand – Afsluitdijk, the Netherlands


Posted: , Last update: January 6 2016, in Bunkers, Fortresses & Strongpoints. No Comments 1 Views

Closing of the Afsluitdijk in 1931

Closing of the Afsluitdijk in 1931

When in 1921 the decision is made to build the ambitious “Afsluitdijk” (ENG: “Enclosure Dam”) between the towns of Den Oever (North Holland) and Zurich (Friesland) to separate the North Sea from the South Sea (which is since called “IJsselmeer”), the Dutch Ministry of Defense demanded that fortifications would be built along the dam to protect it from capture and also the so called “Fortress of Holland”, meaning the provinces of North and South Holland, which, in terms of war on the European continent, would be the last line of defense for the Dutch army.
The 32 kilometer long dam would also pose a serious risk for the important harbor of the Dutch Navy in Den Helder, while it would connect the mainland of the provence of Friesland to North Holland and thus making it vulnerable for attacks from ground forces.

So during the construction of the massive 90 meters wide dam, a number of man made islands were created along the dam to form defense lines with armed fortifications.
The first two lines of defense were at the east side of the Afsluitdijk at “Stelling Kornwerderzand”, where a system of bunkers and trenches were constructed to protect the sluices of the dam. And at the west side of the dam “Stelling Den Oever” also consisted of two lines of defense fitted with a large number of bunkers. Den Oever was seen as the last line of defense for Fortress Holland.

Position Kornwerderzand

Position Kornwerderzand was constructed between 1931 and 1936 and consisted of two lines of defense with a total of 17 bunkers, of which 9 where placed in the first line. Most of these bunkers were MG stands and designed to withstand 210mm to 280mm caliber. The outer walls are 2.8 metres thick and the inner walls 1.5 metres. Extra concrete pillars were placed to enforce the construction against weakening in case of heavy artillery fire. Some of the MG bunkers have a parapet to protect additional MG positions outside of the bunker. Most of the bunkers were covered with 1 meter of soil.
From the beginning of September 1939, when the German Wehrmacht invades Poland, the 21st Infantry Regiment under the command of Captain C.F.J Boers was permanently stationed at Stelling (Eng: position) Kornwerderzand. The regiment consisted of 7 officers, 25 non-commissioned officers and 193 corporals and soldiers.

Position Kornwerderzand troop inspection

Position Kornwerderzand troop inspection

Lay-out of Position Kornwerderzand

Lay-out of Position Kornwerderzand

German attack on Kornwerderzand

German cavalery en route to Kornwerderzand

German cavalery en route to Kornwerderzand

On the 12th of May the position is first attacked with MG fire and mortar fire by the German invaders. On 13 May they fire at the position with heavy artillery and at 18:00 the German 1st Cavalry Division charges the position but breaks off the attack due to heavy resistance from Kornwerderzand.
The day after they fire at the positions with heavy artillery again, but this time the artillery position on the IJsselmeerdijk is returned fire upon by the Dutch navy gunboat “Hr.Ms.Johan Maurits van Nassau” lying 18 kilometers off shore in the Waddenzee. It fires 98 shells and destroys all the artillery guns. The Wehrmacht is forced to retreat from this position.

Even after these attacks the bunkers show little sign of heavy damage and no casualties are made. The Dutch soldiers feel very confident and moral is high. But when the Germans threaten to bomb Rotterdam on the 14th of May, the Dutch Army High Command orders their surrender.  The soldiers are forced to hand over Kornwerderzand to the Wehrmacht.
Despite this, the German Luftwaffe bombs Rotterdam on 14 May around 13:30 in the afternoon.

Visit the Kazemattenmuseum, Kornwerderzand

Nowadays most of the position can still be visited. Part of the first defense line has been preserved in a museum called the Kazemattenmuseum Kornwerderzand. The bunkers outside the museum are neglected and left to their destiny, but in the museum they are restored in their glory most of the time and outfitted with displays of original armament and army equipment. The museum staff has done their best to give the visitors a view into the past.

Monument Cpt. C.F.J. Boers and Lt O.J. Ham

Monument for Captain C.F.J. Boers of Kornwerderzand who was executed in Oranienburg in 1942 and Lieutenant O.J. Ham who was executed in 1944 in Mauthausen

Monument for Captain C.F.J. Boers of Kornwerderzand who was executed in Oraniënburg (Sachsenhausen) in 1942 and Lieutenant O.J. Ham who was executed in 1944 in Mauthausen – Kazemattenmuseum Kornwerderzand, the Netherlands

After the army’s surrender commander Captain Boers and Lieutenant Ham joined the Dutch resistance and continued fighting the German invaders. They would both be arrested in 1941 and executed. This memorial is erected in their honor.

Casemate IV Kornwerderzand

MG position of casemate IV - Kazemattenmuseum Kornwerderzand, the Netherlands

MG position of casemate IV. Notice the original camo paintings (also visible on the troop inspection pic) – Kazemattenmuseum Kornwerderzand, the Netherlands

A view of the back of casemate IV. This casemate functioned as Captian Boers Command Post during the fighting – Kazemattenmuseum Kornwerderzand, the Netherlands

A cupola for observing on top of case mate IV  - Kazemattenmuseum Kornwerderzand, the Netherlands

A large metal cupola for observing purposes on top of casemate IV – Kazemattenmuseum Kornwerderzand, the Netherlands

Casemate XIV Kornwerderzand

Casemate XIV -  Kazemattenmuseum Kornwerderzand

Casemate XIV functioned as kitchen for the 250 men and housed two Oerlikon 20mm AA guns – Kazemattenmuseum Kornwerderzand, the Netherlands

Diorama displaying a 20mm AA gun Kazemattenmuseum Kornwerderzand

Diorama inside bunker XIV displaying a Dutch soldier manning a 20mm Oerlikon AA gun – Kazemattenmuseum Kornwerderzand, the Netherlands

Diorama of Dutch soldier manning 7.9 mm Schwarzlose semi automatic machinegun - Kazemattenmuseum Kornwerderzand, the Netherlands

Diorama of Dutch soldier manning 7.9 mm Schwarzlose semi automatic machinegun – Kazemattenmuseum Kornwerderzand, the Netherlands

Casemate V Kornwerderzand

A view of casemate V with casemate VI visible in the backgroundKornwerderzand

A view of casemate V with casemate VI visible in the background – Kazemattenmuseum Kornwerderzand, the Netherlands

Casemate V MG stand - Kazemattenmuseum Kornwerderzand, the Netherlands

Casemate V MG stand – Kazemattenmuseum Kornwerderzand, the Netherlands

Detail of an exterior MG position in the parapet wall around casemate V - Kazemattenmuseum Kornwerderzand, the Netherlands

Detail of an exterior MG position in the parapet wall around casemate V to cover the rear. Notice the steel doors for ammunition storage – Kazemattenmuseum Kornwerderzand, the Netherlands

Casemate VI Kornwerderzand

Casemate VI was the most heavily armed bunker of Kornwerderzand, the only one with an extra floor under ground level and played a large role in fighting off the German attack. It also drew the most fire during the attacks on the 13th and 14th of May, because the Wehrmacht wanted to immobilize the 5cm canons as soon as possible so it wouldn’t endanger a possible tank assault on Kornwerderzand if needed.

Casemate VI Kazemattenmuseum Kornwerderzand

Casemate VI was fitted with two 5 cm Siderius canons for anti tank purposes – Kazemattenmuseum Kornwerderzand

Casemate VI - Kazemattenmuseum Kornwerderzand

Casemate VI – Kazemattenmuseum Kornwerderzand

Armoured steel door with gun port of casemate VI Kornwerderzand

One of the two armored doors with gun port for a 5cm Siderius canon of casemate VI – Kazemattenmuseum Kornwerderzand

One of the original 5cm 1/50 Siderius canons of Kornwerderzand

One of the original 5cm 1/50 Siderius (Dutch) canons of Kornwerderzand in casemate VI

Detail of the 5cm 1/50 Diderius canon Kornwerderzand

Detail of the 5cm 1/50 Siderius canon – Kazemattenmuseum Kornwerderzand, the Netherlands

The pictures above show the 5cm Siderius canon mounted on a gun carriage inside the gun room of casemate VI. Although there indeed was one 5cm Siderius canon on such a carriage in a field position on the first defense line, near where the entrance of the museum is nowadays, the other two 5cm canons inside casemate VI were mounted on a fixed rig bolted on the casemate wall.

A marquette of casemate VI - Kazemattenmuseum Kornwerderzand

A marquette of casemate VI viewing towards the back of the casemate – Kazemattenmuseum Kornwerderzand

For internal communication a tube system was used - Kazemattenmuseum Kornwerderzand, the Netherlands

For internal communication a tube system was used – Kazemattenmuseum Kornwerderzand, the Netherlands

This Sherman M4A3 tank turret that you can find walking towards casemate VII was installed after WW2  Kornwerderzand

This Sherman M4A3 tank turret that you can find walking towards casemate VII was installed after WW2. During the cold war Kornwerderzand was again used by the Dutch army.

The secret RAF 161 “Special Duties” squadron

Tail piece belonging to a shot down Lockheed Hudson FK790 of RAF 161 "Special Duties" Squadron - Kazemattenmuseum Kornwerderzand

Tail piece belonging to a shot down Lockheed Hudson FK790 of RAF 161 “Special Duties” Squadron – Kazemattenmuseum Kornwerderzand

This heavily damaged tailpiece belongs to a Lockheed Hudson FK790 of the RAF No. 161 “Special Duties” squadron. The plane left Tempsford Airbase near London with it’s four men crew and 4 Dutch secret agents on board in the night of 5 to 6 July 1944. It’s goal was to drop off the agents, who would parachute into “Appelsche heide” near Nijkerk, the Netherlands to support the Dutch resistance.
The story is that they were intercepted by a German fighter above the Waddenzee and shot down. The plane crashed 4 kilometers south-west of Kornwerderzand in the IJsselmeer. Seven bodies were found in the water after the crash. The remains of the pilot were recovered from the plane wreck in 1997.

More information can be found at http://www.161squadron.org/

Widerstandsnest 27a H – German additions in 1943

When the Wehrmacht took over Kornwerderzand in 1940, at first the position was used as a guard post for the Afsluitdijk. But in 1943, when the tide was turning for the Nazi war machine, the Wehrmacht again fully manned the position and updated the strength of Kornwerderzand by adding extra bunkers and gun emplacements. Kornwerderzand became part of “Stützpunktgruppe Harlingen” as Widerstandsnest 27a H.

Bunker Type 667 Kleinstschartenstand

The Germans built two type 667 “Kleinstschartenstand” bunkers at Kornwerderzand of which this bunker 18, armed with a 4.7 cm PAK gun, is one of. The gun (of Czech origin) was found in 1985 on the second defense line. It was restored by the Dutch Royal Navy in Den Helder and placed in this bunker in 1987.

Bunker IV of position Kornwerderzand  in the Kazemattenmuseum

Bunker 18 (Type 667 “Kleinstschartenstand”) and a German 4.7 cm PAK gun – Kazemattenmuseum Kornwerderzand, the Netherlands

Bunker 18 also had a tobruk position added - Kazemattenmuseum Kornwerderzand, the Netherlands

Bunker 18 also had a Tobruk position added – Kazemattenmuseum Kornwerderzand, the Netherlands

German AA emplacement behind bunker 18 -  Kazemattenmuseum Kornwerderzand, the Netherlands

German FLAK emplacement behind casemate IV – Kazemattenmuseum Kornwerderzand, the Netherlands

If you would like to visit Kazemattenmuseum Kornwerderzand, visit their website for more information http://www.kazemattenmuseum.nl/

Bunkers of Kornwerderzand outside the Kazemattenmuseum

Bunker I with enforced parapet to protect outside MG positions

Bunker I with enforced parapet to protect outside MG positions – Kazenmattenmuseum Kornwerderzand, Afsluitdijk, the Netherlands

Of course, we wouldn’t be LandmarkScout if we didn’t favour the bunkers left to their destiny.. Most of the interior is gone, but these bunkers are more isolated and therefore interesting to visit. Even if that means crossing the highway across the Afsluitdijk on foot with traffic coming at you going 120 km/h.

Read the article here: https://www.landmarkscout.com/stelling-kornwerderzand-afsluitdijk-the-netherlands/





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