Ghosts of the Past

Bunkers

Surfers Catching Waves Beside WWII Nazi Bunkers-Capbreton, France 2017

Tucked away in the Southwest corner of France at the mouth of the Bay of Biscay, sits the little town of Capbreton which my mom’s side of the family has been connected with since the 1800’s.

The town, once known as the City of 100 Captains, has a lively history; a Viking invasion, King Henry IV riding his horse through the doors of its ancient church and bumping his head on the portal, Napoleon III building a wooden jetty to protect the port that still stands today and a German occupation during World War II by  that left defense bunkers on the little town’s beautiful beaches.  

It’s these bunkers that fascinate me the most.  Built for Hitler’s infamous Atlantic Wall defense against an impending Allied attack; they were part of a massive complex of over 10,000 fortified structures stretching  2,000 miles, from Northern Norway down through France’s Atlantic coast right up to its border with Spain.

Atlantic Wall

Photo Credit: bbc.co.uk

 

At the time, these fortresses were considered an impressive engineering feat, which many thought impregnable. Even after the Normandy landing proved this sentiment spectacularly wrong, the Nazis were still a fierce and terrifying force in occupied France, frequently executing or deporting to concentration camps anyone suspected of working against them and impoverishing the local communities they commandeered, leading to starvation and desperation.

Now, more than 70 years later, these once powerful symbols of German resilience and terror lay covered in graffiti amongst French surfers and beach goers living happy and free lives.

Painted Bunkers

Graffiti Covered WWII Nazi Bunkers-Capbreton, France-2017

As these relics of a past darkness fade in to irrelevancy, we are again reminded by the events of the world that evil never fully goes away.  Times and circumstances may change, but men’s hearts do not and we must always stand guard against tyranny and injustice and for freedom.

 

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17 Responses to Ghosts of the Past

  1. Well said! What an odd thing to see that history now covered with graffiti and falling into the ocean.

    Where I live we have some bunkers and monuments to WW2. It’s really hard to imagine how close we once were to the war,how real our defense efforts were. We have submarine nets here, which are pretty spectacular or horrific I suppose, and giant searchlights. They too remind me of how quickly things can change, how evil never really goes away.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Tricia says:

      It is really an odd thing IB! Such a dichotomy as well to view people enjoying freedom as the bunkers crumble away crumble away. Nothing lasts forever yet things remain the same in so many ways.

      That is so interesting about the submarine nets and searchlights. Stuff like that along with the bunkers should be preserved, but many unfortunately want to erase uncomfortable reminders of the evil things men are capable of.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Definitely ture and so well stated Tricia! They are overwhelming are they not? Much like when I stood before the graffiti covered portions of the Berlin Wall.
    Both being reminders of what were very frightening times.
    Reminders now covered in the colors of youthful abandon as I worry the youth do not exactly understand what it is they happily and freely decorate. The cost that was paid for their “freedom” to deface that which was….
    Easily covered today with paint…something a kin to flippantly brandishing our bravado to those past ghosts of evil….You and I grasp the magnitude as to what those reminders are…I just don’t think this current youthful generation grasps the seriousness…as we currently scan the college campuses that cater to a very skin deep generation.
    I can’t wait to hear and see more of the trip!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Tricia says:

      Thanks Julie! It’s interesting what you state about the youth because as I was walking by one of the bunkers, there were a few climbing on them and spray painting their “art”. On the one hand it made me happy to see such evil structures so leisurely defaced, as if they meant nothing. On the other hand I too wonder if these kids had any idea at all of what those structures once stood for and how easily it could all happen again. Their “skin deep” concerns worry me a lot.

      I will definitely post more on this and my trip, I am just now getting past the jet lag fog! 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Dennis says:

    Hey Foggy.
    Glad your back and had a good and safe time. Guess you were not close to the latest auto attack in France. That is getting to be more frequent and brazen.
    Ever wonder what the world would look like if Kennedy and Chamberlain would have not pulled the wool over everyone’s eyes and we stopped Hitler before he invaded France?
    Anyway I’m happy your back in CA..

    Liked by 1 person

    • Tricia says:

      Thanks Dennis! Yes, we had a blast and no terrorism issues where we were at.

      I do wonder about that scenario a lot Dennis, of the western countries getting their collective heads out of the stand before Hitler caused so much grief. Even Churchill was a lone voice in the wind until the UK was attacked. I wonder about it now with the threats from radical Islam and North Korea and, as ridiculous as this may sound, with the fanaticism in this country towards shutting off debate with people who you disagree with politically. It may sound trite but I think that issue points to much larger concerns on where country is headed.

      Like

  4. Citizen Tom says:

    Never been to Europe, but I suppose I could get there one of these days. Probably won’t see too many battlefields. Wife has little interest in that.

    Because of technological innovations, military combat tends to swing back and forth between giving the advantage to the offense and giving the advantage to the defense. WWI was largely fought with the advantage to the defense. The were a few times the Germans might have gotten the upper hand in an offensive maneuver, but they were stopped. It was just too difficult to move large numbers of troops rapidly and secretly before the other guy got fortifications place.

    In WWII the advantage shifted to the offense because of mechanized armor. Even a moat provided by the sea proved inadequate. The Germans had too much coast line to defend, and the Allies kept the information on where they intended to land on D-Day secret. Hence, once the Allies landed on the continent, they just had to keep the Germans backpedaling, unable to make a determined stand or to make an effective counteroffensive. The Allies did just that, but they fought those battles with the luxury of knowing what we know now.

    As these relics of a past darkness fade in to irrelevancy, we are again reminded by the events of the world that evil never fully goes away. Times and circumstances may change, but men’s hearts do not and we must always stand guard against tyranny and injustice and for freedom.

    Well said.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Tricia says:

      Great insight Tom, thanks for adding your perspective! On visiting Europe, I have to say that I bet your wife would appreciate the battlefield visits, as you cannot help but be awed and humbled when touring areas like Normandy and Omaha beach and when seeing the defense structures which caused so many lives to be lost. The emotional experience is overwhelming to all. A shopping trip to Paris might be in order as well though to keep the peace. 😉

      Liked by 1 person

  5. Whether it’s war or disease, people do not believe these atrocities truly exist until it DIRECTLY affects their lives!

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Wally Fry says:

    30 years ago, I was living in Germany serving with the US Forces there. I never made it to the French Coast, but did make it to the Belgian Coast. We toured some of the battlefield from the time of the Battle of the Bulge, and some of the cemeteries with just thousand of graves of men who never went home. Then, there were still lots of people who remembered. The reception for American Soldiers in most of Belgium and Luxembourg was quite warm, as we were still the ones who had freed them. I wonder how much things have changed now that most of the ones who might remember have passed on by now.

    Liked by 2 people

  7. Al says:

    I had the honor of visiting Normandy a few years back. I already had an immense respect for those that participated that day, but it was beyond words to see it first hand. To me the simplest of quotes is the also most profound. “Freedom is never free!” A timely and pointed post. Thanks

    Liked by 1 person

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