FROM A PLACE OF HORROR TO A PLACE OF THOUGHTS
The submarine bunker Valentin reflects the horrors of National Socialism.
Increasing airstrikes prompted the National Socialists at the beginning of the Forties to move the construction of submarines to big concrete bunkers.
As the biggest shipyards in Bremen, Bremer Vulkan and AG Weser were each to be equipped with one of those colossuses.
The code names Hornisse and Valentin:
Hornisse (Hornet) was to be built near the AG Weser site, Valentin had to be moved to Bremen-Farge due to a lack of space on the Vulkan site.
Moreover, the bunker would have endangered the residential areas of Vegesack during air raids.
In the beginning of 1943, building works began in Bremen-Farge. Huge underground fuel tanks were dug in Schwaneweder Heide, and work camps were set up in Bremen-Nord near the bunker construction site.
Around 13,000 forced labourers from the occupied areas were housed there, most camps were so far away from the bunker building site that the labourers had to march several kilometres.
One prisoner remembers that the trail of men had to pass through the streets, in the early morning, singing. Despite that, the citizens of Northern Bremen said they did not know about the works and the concentration camps.
The work at the bunker with its five to seven metres-thick concrete walls was inhuman and onerous. The workers had to balance on narrow wooden planks with their wheelbarrows above the liquid concrete; those who could not go on or were too weak fell into the concrete. Hundreds of people lost their lives that way.
The bunker was to be set into operation at the beginning of 1945, but Allied troops were already close to Bremen at that time and had bombed the bunker several times before, which set back the plans of the Nazi builders. Thus, the bunker was never completed. No submarine ever left the Farge bunker, which is regarded today as the biggest of its kind worldwide.
An estimated 6000 people died during the two-year construction of the bunker; by comparison, only 4000 Bremen civilians died in the 173 Allied bombing raids.
Their place of rest found the forced labourers on big, partly anonymous cemeteries around the bunker in the Schwaneweder Heide. The smaller AG-Weser submarine bunker „Hornisse“ (Hornet) was completely destroyed during Allied air raids.
The bunker Valentin reminds of the horrors of National Socialism like no other building in Bremen-Nord and is a memorial today.
The bunker is still partly used by the Bundeswehr, which is why the concrete colossus is surrounded by a high wire mesh fence.