Friday, 7 July 2017

A Rare Peek into a Swiss World War 2-Era Bunker (18 Pics)

The bunker, as seen from outside.
It is built into a quarry side, a few kilometres from the German border. Here you can see three holes that serve different purposes - from left to right: the viewing port, the MG nest and anti-tank cannon.
The entrance, hidden from view.
The sign is dedicated to a Franz Dörflinger-Schaad, who died as a result of a detonation in the construction of the bunker, in 1941.
Looking back from inside.
A basic hallway extends further into the cliff, where we see a staircase leading up to the rooms.

A small shrine in the bunker.
Having the Nazi Reich so close to you would probably make you pray for the best too.

Interestingly enough, the Nazis hardly tolerated the Swiss (despising their multicultural French and German people, and their decentralized democracy), and actually planned to invade Switzerland as part of Operation Tannenbaum (Christmas Tree or Fir Tree), but never actually carried out the plans as they were preoccupied with defeating their enemies around Europe first.
The staircase leading up to the living quarters and combat stations.
Several metal doors seal the downstairs entrance area from the upstairs living quarters and combat stations. These were built with the aim to seal off the post from potential flamethrower usage.
Ominous hallways...
There's maybe 30 meters of halls like this one, connecting the base together inside the cliff.
Armory.
The shorter rifles are Karabiner Modell 1931's - Switzerland's service rifle from 1933 to 1958. The longer ones are Modell 1911's, the predecessor of the K31.
Armory and living quarters.
There are a few of these rooms in the bunker. They also contain cots, dining tables and chairs, plates and silverware, and everything necessary to guarantee survival sealed off from the outside world.
Communications station.
If the Germans came across the border, these men would be among the first to contact headquarters. At that point, Swiss military doctrine was implemented to mobilize every soldier and reservist within 24 hours, get civilians to shelter, mine the roads and bridges, and ready the whole country for war.

The picture is of Hans Herzog, who was General of the Swiss Army during the Franco-Prussian War of 1870. His WW2 contemporary, Henri Guisan, is probably Switzerland's most famous soldier.
Machine gun nest.
This setup is rather interesting. The gun is a 7.5mm caliber Maschinengewehr 51 or Mg 51, developed for the Swiss Army based on the German MG 42. The viewing port is made of bulletproof glass and can be locked off with metal armoring from both sides, and the MG station can be sealed to continue working even under flamethrower fire.
Even when blinded, the bunker can keep aiming.
Using photographs, maps and coordinate systems on the weapons, everything can still be aimed and fired without actually looking outside. Guns can be trained on specific markers of the valley, and field spotters can radio in where to target.

In this photograph, Germany is just a few kilometers to the right - the blue and red sections are concrete trenches built to make tank crossing difficult and to funnel infantry. The forests are filled with Dragon's Teeth fortifications too, making it hard to cross by vehicle.
Former personnel of the Festungswachtkorps explaining the 90mm gun's usage.
The Festungswachtkorps (Fortress Guard Corps) is a now-defunct element of the Swiss Army, dedicated to maintaining and operating the countless forts and bunkers of Switzerland. Its functions have largely been absorbed by the military's other branches.

The 90mm gun opening can also be shielded from flamethrower usage, and continue to bust open tanks. During World War Two, I believe a 75mm gun was installed here, being replaced by a newer Pak 57 (Panzerabwehrkanone 57, or Anti-tank cannon 57) after the war.

Another armory room, showing off diverse weaponry and gear
Helmets of the Swiss of the 20th Century


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