Explore the war history of the Wadden Sea region

When visiting the Waddenzee World Heritage Site, you will find many traces of a shadowed past. Here, too, defense works were built and battles waged. Join us for a journey through time?
Waddenzee Werelderfgoed - Terschelling Atlantikwall

The Atlantikwall

Like Napoleon, the Germans were very interested in the strategic situation of the Wadden Sea region, so they built German bunkers throughout the area. These bunkers were part of the Atlantikwall, a defense line over 5000 kilometers long. Nazi Germany built it between 1942 and 1945 to prevent an Allied invasion by sea. Contrary to what the name suggests, it is not a long wall but a line consisting of individual support points, such as bunkers. Many of these survived the war and have become places of interest. We highly recommend visiting the bunker complex on the island of Terschelling, for instance. It offers a fascinating look at the battles waged on the Wadden Islands and the way the German army dug in.

Waddenzee Werelderfgoed - Noarderleech

Historic bicycle tour of Noarderleech

The Noarderleech area is situated on the Frisian Coast and was considered an important area by the Germans. It was an excellent vantage point and was also used for military exercises. Get on your bicycle and follow the long bicycle route that starts in Marrum. Don’t forget to stop at the Noarderleech bunker and the many other historic places that all have their extraordinary stories. 

The battle for the Wadden

It is not a secret that the Wadden are in a strategic location – even the Romans and the Vikings knew this. The traces of battles and wars are visible everywhere. Through the centuries, a number of redoubts and city walls were created. Several cities were equipped with bastions in the Eighty Years’ War, often circular defense works in front of or outside city walls or ramparts.

Some of these bastions are well worth a visit, such as Vesting Bourtange in Groningen or the Frisian cities of Dokkum and Harlingen. Big sea battles were fought in these harbor cities, such as against the English in the seventeenth century. A unique period in Dutch history that is still clearly visible here.

Stories of war come together here

What did WWII mean for the Wadden? The answer to this question can be found at the Atlantikwall Centrum in Huisduinen near Den Helder. In this former administration building, which served as an artillery workshop in WWII, stories are told from different perspectives. Both residents of Den Helder and German soldiers tell their stories. Curious? The Atlantikwall Centrum is open every day.

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Photo: Jonathan Andrew

Verken de oorlogshistorie van het Waddengebied