The Valentin U-Boat Bunker in Bremen was the largest u-boat factory in Germany. Due to the air raids by the Allies, the factory remained unfinished at the end of the war.
Construction of the Valentin U-Boat Bunker began in February 1943. The colossal building was a last-ditch effort of the Third Reich toward the end of the war. The bunker was going to be an assembly point for prefabricated u-boat parts.
An estimated 10,000 to 12,000 prisoners worked on the construction of the building. The death records indicate 553 individuals died during construction, most of them being captive Frenchmen. In reality, the total number of deaths is probably around 6,000 since most of them were Polish and Russian. The Germans saw them as lesser beings.
Admission to the bunker is free of charge. In the entry, an interactive video is playing with information and facts about WWII. Beyond the entry, a walking path with informative signs guides you on a tour of the massive structure and grounds.
Certain areas inside the bunker are roped off to keep you on the path and out of harms way. The photos below show the damage from the bomb penetrating the roof. If you look closely, you can see the metal that reinforced the concrete. Some of the metal bars hanging down are still holding onto bits of concrete.
A sign in the area overlooking the most damaged section reads:
The Valentin Bunker was designed as the assembly shipyard, where the parts were to be put together and fitted as if in a production line. A submarine would set sail through the sluice gates bound for the North Sea every 56 hours. The Production process determined the length, height, and width of the bunker.
Take a moment to let that sink in.
If the bunker would have been completed, 56 hours is a little over two days. That would have changed the entire face of the war. Would the outcome of been different? Would the Germans have won?
I didn’t get a sense of how massive the place really was until we walked around the exterior and saw parts of the building not visible from where we were inside.
Following the war, efforts to destroy the fortified building continued unsuccessfully.
In the 1960s the Germany Navy took control of the building and used it for storage. in 2010 the navy moved out and plans were created to turn the entire place into a memorial.
The building opened as a memorial in 2015.