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From a site of horror to a site of remembrance

It is a huge site of remembrance in the midst of Bremen-Nord: The U-boat bunker “Valentin“ bears witness to the horrors of National Socialism.

Over 6,000 people lost their lives during the construction of this colossus. The increasing air attacks made the Nacionalsocialists at the beginning of the Fourties to transfer U-boat construction sites into big concrete shelters. The Bremer Vulkan and the AG Weser shipyard should, as the biggest Bremen shipyards, each be equipped with one of those colossal bunkers. The aliases “Hornet” and “Valentin” . The “Hornet” bunker was meant to be built near the AG-Wesercomplex. “Valentin” had to be, due to lack of space at the Vulkan yards, erected in Bremen-Farge. Moreover, the submarine bunker would have endangered living quarters in the townpart of Vegesack.

In early 1943, construction works in Bremen-Farge commenced. In the Schwanewede heathlands, huge, subterranenan fuel tanks have been sunk, labour campswere set up next to the bunker building site. About 13,000 forced labourers from occupied areas were held here, most of the camps were so remote from the site that they had to walk for miles to get there.

A former prisoner recalled that they had to pass through people’sliving quarters in the early morning, singing. Despite that, the Bremen-Nord-population claims not to have known about the labour- and concentration camps. The building works at the bunker with its five-to seven metres-thick concrete walls were arduous and inhumane.The workers had to balance with wheelbarrows over the liquid concrete, if they were exhausted or too weak to do it, they would fall into the concrete basin. Hundreds of men lost their lives that way.

At the start of 1945, the bunker should have been completed. But the Allied troops stood, at this point in time, already before Bremen and had yet bombed the site, repeatedly, which undermined Nazi planning. Thus, the bunker has never been completed. No submarine ever left the Farge bunker, which is recorded as the biggest ofits kind worldwide. Approximately 6,000 people lost their lives building it over a time oftwo years, By comparison: 4,000 Bremen citizens died by the 173 Allied air attacks. The final resting place for the forced labourers were big, partly anonymous gravesites around the Bunker at the Schwanewede heathland. The smaller AG-Weser-bunker “Hornet” has been completely destroyed in Allied air raids. The bunker “Valentin“ is now a memorial site and remembers the horrors of National Socialism like no other building in Bremen-Nord.

The bunker is still partially used by the Bundeswehr, therefore the concrete colossus issurrounded by a big wire- mesh fence.

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