A special story
in a special building
In 2009, the former Administration building of the German navy in Den Helder burned down almost completely. Yet it was not demolished. Rietvink Architecten used the ruin as the basis for the new Atlantikwall Centre.
Den Helder suffered heavily during the Second World War and that is evident in the city and the surrounding landscape. The port and the nearby airfield were commandeered by the German navy and the city became the target of air raids by the English, and subsequently the American, air force. The bombardments were aimed at Rijkswerf, but many bombs hit the city that lost many of its people and its heart.
Besides the navy, the German air force and infantry were also stationed in Den Helder. The city became an important part of the Atlantikwall - the defensive line of more than 5,000 kilometres that stretched from Norway to Spain. Structures of this line were built on 37 points in Den Helder, including 88 heavy-duty bunkers. When you go for a walk, you will see remnants here and there. There are various tours that tell you the stories behind the bunkers.
At the former Galgenveld in Huisduinen, the navy built an ordnance park for storage and repairs of weapons and other equipment in 1942. This park consisted of storage sheds and an engineering workshop. There was also an Administration Office that was know locally as the Casino. This striking Neoclassical building had exceptional entrances and a colonnade. The design was characteristic of the German construction style and pointed to Albert Speer, the architect of the Third Reich.
After the war, the park was used by the Royal Netherlands Army and they left it in 1992. Then it became forgotten. In 2009, the larger part of the Administration Office burned down to the ground. Exactly ten years later, the ruin was given a new use. A new building was created in the remnants of the Casino that now houses the Atlantikwall Centre.
The Atlantikwall Centre has a lot of information about Den Helder during the Second World War. It is also the starting point for the story of the Atlantikwall in the Wadden. Various tours are available from the centre.
Experience how Den Helder became part of the German defense line.
The unique Willemsoord complex, which used to be the ship and maintenance yard for the Royal Navy, is now a beautiful monumental part of Den Helder that gradually develops into an open city district.