Opinion Recaps Reviews Interviews Explainers

Hitler’s obsession with Channel Islands sees them turned into ‘impregnable fortress’ on Nazi Mega Weapons

the Channel Islands were heavily fortified by the Nazis, this image shows a large concrete coastal emplacement
The Channel Islands became one of the most fortified places on Earth during WWII

This week Nazi Mega Weapons looks at how Hitler turned the Channel Islands into one of the most fortified parts of Europe during World War II.

The Channel Islands are a British Crown dependencies lying between the southwest coast of the UK and the northwest coast of France.

The islands are closer to France than the UK as can be seen in this map
The islands are closer to France than the UK and were not seen as strategically important

Following the outbreak of the war, the British decided not to defend the islands as they judged them to be of no strategic value. Most of children on the islands were evacuated to England along with a significant portion of the adult population.

Work on building some of the massive gun emplacements
Work on building some of the massive gun emplacements

The islands were invaded in 30 June 1940 and not liberated until 9 May 1945, when they were freed without a shot being fired.

During the invasion the Germans did not realise the islands had been demilitarised and launched several bombing raids, which resulted in around 40 deaths.

One of the large guns fires a shot
One of the large guns fires a shot

Adolf Hitler became obsessed with the islands and as part of the Atlantic Wall defense plan he ordered Commander-in-Chief von Witzleben to turn the islands into an “impregnable fortress.” This was despite the commander advising against this, seeing them strategically unimportant.

Many of the fortifications were linked by a network of rail tunnels and have reinforced concrete up to 7 feet thick
Many of the fortifications were linked by a network of rail tunnels and have thick reinforced concrete

Some of the islands ended up with far greater defences than many parts of the more strategically critical mainland France.

The occupation itself was fairly gentle compared with other parts of occupied Europe. Though by the end of the war everyone on the islands was facing severe food shortage.

Nazi Mega Weapons airs on Tuesdays at 8:00 PM on PBS.

James has worked for Monsters and Critics since it started back in 2003. He oversees the business and technical side of things. You can contact... read more
James Wray

If you like this story then follow us on Google News or Flipboard.

Subscribe
Notify of
guest
0 Comments
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments