With Germany occupying almost all of Belgium, the coast with the large ports Oostende and Zeebrugge were also under their control. They placed large coastal defences around the ports and all along the coastline. Today all the coastal batteries have disappeared exept one called ‘Battery Aachen’ at Domein Raversijde in Oostende. This domain used to belong to the Belgian Royal family and is now owned by the Belgian state, who have opened it to the public. Along with the WWI battery, two German coastal batteries from WWII can also be visited.
The border with Holland
Because the Germans feared an attack from neutral Holland they placed a barbed wire fence along the Dutch border which was guarded by German soldiers. Later in the war they also electrified the fence so fewer soldiers were needed to guard it. The fence is known as ‘de Dodendraad’ meaning wire of death or ‘den elektrieken draad’ meaning the electric wire. Parts of it have been recreated near Valkenswaard in Holland and the Belgian village of Zondereigen.
As the Germans feared an attack might be made from Dutch Zeeuws Vlaanderen, in 1916 they started building more permanent defence lines from the coast at Knokke up to Turnhout. Three defence lines where made: the ‘Holland Stellung’, the ‘Antwerpen Stellung’ and the ‘Turnhoutkanal Stellung’.
Note: bunkers is a word which was not used until World War II. But as it is the common and popular name today the word bunker will be used most times throughout this website.