Discover Wadden at War at Terschelling

Of all the Wadden islands, Terschelling occupied a particularly important strategic air position. Allied planes en route to targets in Germany flew from the North Sea straight over Terschelling. The Germans aimed to intercept those planes as much as possible before they reached Germany. Therefore, they built various defensive positions on the island, largely for air defence.

The scale of the Atlantikwall was of a different order than any of the earlier fortifications. It was a massive project, organised centrally from Berlin. The local commanders were given standard designs, which they needed to build in accordance with strict guidelines. The materials, such as mortar, sand, gravel and steel wire, were supplied from elsewhere. In essence, this was a heavy industrial intervention in the existing Wadden landscape. At the same time, the Germans also worked with the existing landscape of
Terschelling by using the dunes for example. Radar systems, such as the tall Wassermann antennas, were placed on the highest tops of the dunes to have the best chance of detecting the approaching planes. The West Gun Emplacement at Hoge Duin west of West-Terschelling had such an antenna. Today you can still enjoy the beautiful view over the island and you will understand why they chose this place back in the day.

The Tiger fortifications were the heart of this ingenious network of innovative radar systems that were able to spot allied planes from a long way out. All the connections came together in the enormous command bunker ‘Bertha’ and from there the combat operations over Terschelling were coordinated. This enormous bunker had two floors and was extremely well camouflaged by the dunes.

Although the Atlantikwall was a large, mainly concrete intervention in the landscape, the defensive line adjusted to the landscape in the end. This modification was based on a tried and tested military strategy - use the landscape, choose the best positions it has to offer and don't stand out. For the radar systems it was pretty much impossible not to stand out. They were put on the highest dunes on purpose to achieve the greatest possible coverage.

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