The former submarine bunker "Valentin" is the second largest above ground bunker in Europe and the most visible legacy of three major Nazi armament projects that have transformed a predominantly agricultural region since the mid-1930s.
As early as 1935, the Wirtschaftliche Forschungsgesellschaft mbH (WIFO), a research front company run by the Economics Ministry, started construction of an underground fuel depot between Farge and Neuenkirchen. In 1938 the German Navy constructed additional fuel bunkers in the immediate vicinity. Both facilities were built in preparation for war. The existing infrastructure and labor camp were utilized for the submarine bunker “Valentin" beginning in mid 1943.
Little evidence remains today of the original fuel depot projects of the 1930s, the camps or the massive construction site. All that remains is the bunker itself, an unmistakable icon of the Nazi war machinery.
A Construction Site in War
The German Navy began the construction of the submarine bunker "Valentin” in mid 1943. At this time Allied Forces had air superiority over the majority of German-held territories. Construction of submarines in the largely unprotected shipping yards had become almost impossible.
In the bunker "Valentin," submarines were to be constructed using new types of assembly-line techniques, protected by meter-thick walls and ceilings. The Nazi leaders hoped these submarines would once again change the course of the war by breaking Allied supply routes across the Atlantic. Project “Valentin" became a high priority.
Hunger, Cold, Exhaustion
In just twenty months - from summer 1943 to spring 1945 – a bunkered submarine shipyard was born in Bremen-Farge. Up to 10,000 forced laborers - civilian forced laborers from Eastern and Western Europe, Soviet prisoners of war, Italian military internees, concentration camp prisoners and inmates of the labor re-education camps of the Bremen Gestapo - were working under extreme pressure day and night on the enormous construction site. Various camps within a radius of six kilometers of the bunker were used for housing. Malnourished and debilitated people built the bunker in 12-hour shifts of hard labor.
Approximately 1,600 forced laborers died as a result of the physically strenuous work, inadequate care and inhumane living conditions in the camps. Only 1,144 victims are known by name.
Destruction and Post-War Use
An unfinished section of the bunker was destroyed in a British Royal Air Force attack in late March 1945; shortly afterwards construction was stopped. No submarine was ever built in the Bunker “Valentin.”
After the war the bunker was used by the Allies as a target for bomb tests. Later, demolition plans failed and it became an adventure playground for local children. Towards the end of the 1950s the German Army took over the site for use as a training ground. From the 1960s until 2010, the bunker was used by the German Navy as a supply depot.
Establishing a Memorial
In January 2011, when the “Bunker Valentin” became the “Denkort Bunker Valentin” memorial, the bunker began serving a civilian function for the first time in its almost seventy-year history. The memorial offers a broad range of programs that encouraging visitors to actively and critically examine the bunker’s past, present and future and to explore its surroundings. The National Centre for Political Education was commissioned by the Senate of the Free Hanseatic City of Bremen to create and run the “Denkort Bunker Valentin” memorial.
Viewing the Site
A 1.5 km path runs through the grounds and into the bunker. It begins at the “Extermination through Work” monument and passes 25 stations that present information about the site’s history. Visitors are led through the main entrance to the Information Centre on the south side of the bunker. Here visitors can acquire a multimedia guide to accompany them on their visit. The guide, available in German and English, provides additional information at each station. The Information Centre contains a media table presenting the geographical development of the armaments landscape around the “Valentin” Bunker from the 1930s to the present. An exhibition with in-depth information is also shown here.
Multimedia guide english: rental on payment of a deposit
Foreign languages tours available on request: firstname.lastname@example.org
Telephone: +49 (0)421 – 69 67 36 70
A fee is charged for tours.
The grounds and information centre are open from Tuesday to Friday and also on Sunday from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. The Denkort is closed on official holidays in Germany. Current information on our opening hours is listed in the info-box on Google (Search: Denkort Bunker Valentin).
Download hand out flyer: Memorial and Information Centre (pdf 736 KB)