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Hitler's Gateway to the Atlantic (Hardback)

German Naval Bases in France 1940-1945

WWII Maritime Seaforth

By Lars Hellwinkel
Seaforth Publishing
Pages: 256
ISBN: 9781848321991
Published: 19th February 2014

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Employing new research from both German and French sources, the author examines the role that the French Atlantic ports played for the Kriegsmarine during the Second World War.

When the Wehrmacht overran France in May and June of 1940, the German navy's dream of access to the Atlantic was realised, and Brest, Lorient, St Nazaire, La Pallice and Bordeaux were converted into naval bases for surface, U-boat and auxiliary cruiser operations, though it is only the heavily fortified U-boat bunkers that have received any attention to date. The book describes the extent to which the French, both locally and at the level of the Vichy Government, cooperated with the German authorities in occupied France to convert the existing ports, and explains how the 45,000 workers of the Todt Organisation built the monumental bunkers and other facilities. This fascinating narrative of the German occupation is balanced by the story of the vicious British maritime-air campaign that was commenced immediately following the fall of France, and which was far more effective than has been previously suggested. The German attempt to turn Brittany into a vast bastion area after the Normandy landings is a further aspect which is covered in detail for the first time.

A highly readable account with many previously unpublished images.

This is an excellent book which makes a real contribution to the history of the Second World War in European waters.

Warship Annual

A well-researched book, superbly illustrated with contemporary photographs, original and timely...Hellwinkel offers crucial new insights...By far the richest of Hellwinkel's contributions to historical scholarship is his intimate familiarity with the physical facilities and the human interactions between the occupiers and the occupied...This is a book that deserves to be widely read and discussed.

Mariner's Mirror

The book is well illustrated with many formal and informal photographs, and overall provides a comprehensive account of an aspect of World War 2, which to date has received little attention.

Warship World

This highly readable account represents a significant addition to the published literature on the naval war in the Atlantic. The author is to be congratulated for providing a wealth of new information which has been illustrated with numerous previously unpublished images. Highly recommended.

Marine News

Many people like to visit the “battlefields” and grounds (called “battlefield tourism”) of World War 2 and this volume will greatly assist any such expedition as it devotes an entire chapter to the present day condition of many structures. Not only is this superb book useful for this but it is a remarkable compilation on the structures in wartime too. In short, this is a highly interesting book and it deserves shelf space in any ones World War 2 naval library.

MIlitary Archive Research

About Lars Hellwinkel

LARS HELLWINKEL is a naval historian who studied French and history at Brest and Kiel before turning his hand to research at the Kiel Maritime Museum in 2008. He has written for numerous publications on military topics, while this book was developed from research for his Ph.D. He now teaches at the Athenaeum Gymnasium in Stade.

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