DEFINING THE 'ATLANTIKWALL'
See below, after the Statutes of International Fortress Council.
This is a translation by Carlos Scheltema, secretary-general in 2007 and of Kees Neisingh, of the statutes in Dutch. The original statutes were passed before notary mr Erik Habers in Bussum, the Netherlands, on February 8, 2007. The IFC general Assembly decided in its 2012 meeting on some changes; these were passed before notary Mrs. Gezina Goossens in Bussum, the Netherlands on December 5, 2012.
The new statutes are deposited at the Chamber of Commerce in Utrecht, the Netherlands,
Article 1. Name, seat and secretariat.
The name of the association is: INTERNATIONAL FORTRESS COUNCIL.
The association is statutory seated in Utrecht (The Netherlands).
The secretariat of the association can be established in any country in which a member of the association is located.
Article 2. Purpose of the association.
The association maintains and furthers contacts between its members, the exchange of their knowledge, experience and the exchange of information on activities of its members.
The purpose of the association can be fostered and maintained in a variety of ways.
Article 3. Members of the association.
1. Members of the association can only be legal bodies who aim towards promoting the maintenance of historic forts, defensive works and military architecture, and the furtherance of knowledge and information thereof.
Furthermore, members of the association should be active in the whole state in which they are seated or at least in an important part of it, are open to anyone, and are not a public authority nor totally dependent on public authorities.
2. In one country, not more than two organizations can be member of the association.
3. The acceptance of new members is subject to a decision of the general assembly.
4. The general assembly can accept as member of the association a legal body that meets all other requirements of the first clause, but that is not active in a great part or in the whole state in which it is seated, if in the opinion of the general assembly substantial agreement from other organizations can be supposed.
5. The general assembly can accept as non-voting member of the association a legal body that meets all other requirements of the first clause, but is a public authority or is totally dependent on public authorities.
6.The executive committee keeps a register of all the names and addresses of the members.
Article 4. Obligations of the members.
Members of the association commit themselves to cooperate in the achievement of the purposes of the association and to defray the costs of the execution and continuance of the purposes of the association, according to a system of contribution described in the bylaws of the association.
Article 5. Termination of membership.
1. Membership terminates:
a. by the resignation by the member;
b. by decision of the executive committee on behalf of the association. This can occur when the member has ceased to fulfil the conditions for membership as described in the statutes, when the member ceases to fulfil its commitments towards the association, and/or when it cannot reasonably be required to continue the membership.
c. by expulsion of the member by the executive committee. This can only take place when the member acts contrary to the statutes, regulations or decisions of the association, or harms the association in an unreasonable way.
2. Resignation of membership by a member or by the association can only take place at the end of the association’s year, in accordance with a term of notice of four weeks. However, membership can immediately be ended when the association and/or the member cannot reasonably be expected to continue the membership
3. Resignation contrary to the stipulations of the previous clause ends membership at the earliest allowed moment following the date, stated in the resignation.
4. A member is not allowed to withhold by its resignation its obligations that result from a decision by the association to increase the financial obligations of the members.
5. Against a decision of the association to terminate membership on the ground that the association cannot reasonably be required to continue this membership and of a decision to terminate this membership, the member concerned can appeal to the general assembly within a month from the moment it has received notification of expulsion Therefore it will receive immediate written notice, with the reasons for the decision. Its membership will be suspended during the period of the appeal and pending the appeal.
6. When membership ends during the association’s year, the whole annual contribution will nevertheless be due.
Article 6. The general assembly.
1. All competences, not assigned to the executive committee by the law or by the statutes, are brought to the general assembly.
2. The general assembly will be convened by the executive committee at least once a year, or in between when at least two members request it in writing. The general assembly will be summoned at least four weeks in advance by the secretary general on behalf of the president, or on behalf of the members who requested it.
3. The call to a meeting will mention the subjects to be dealt with.
4. In the general assembly and in other meetings, gatherings or contacts, each member is represented by a maximum of two persons, who are nominated in writing to the executive committee by the member; each of these two persons will be supposed to be authorized to represent the member.
A member can give written authorization to be represented by another member, but this authorization is only valid for one particular meeting. For a next meeting this authorization has to be announced again in writing.
5. As long as at least two-third of the members are represented in a general assembly, valid decisions can be taken by simple majority of the votes, for all subjects except the amendment of the statutes or the dissolution of the association.
6. Decisions to amend the statutes or to dissolve the association can only be taken in a general assembly where all the members are represented, even if the assembly has not been convened in the proper way. For these decisions a two-third majority of votes is required.
7. Decisions can validly be taken outside a meeting by bringing the votes out by mail or e-mail; it is then required that all the members bring out their votes and that the votes are unanimous.
Article 7. Voting right of the members.
1. Unless the articles of association prescribe differently, decisions on all subjects will be taken by simple majority of votes.
2. Each member can deliver two votes; when two members are located in the same country, each of them can deliver one vote. Voting is carried out by the representatives of the members, mentioned in article 6 clause 4.
Voting about individuals is achieved by a paper ballot.
3. A member can have its vote delivered by the representative of another member, provided there is written authorization.
Article 8. Chairmanship and minutes.
1. The general assembly is conducted by the chairman or the vice-chairman of the association. When the chairman and the vice-chairman are absent, the executive committee appoints one of its other members to be chairman. If the chairmanship cannot even be provided for in this way, the assembly itself selects a chairman.
2. Minutes of the discussions of every meeting will be taken down by the secretary-general or any other person appointed by the chairman; the minutes will be confirmed and signed by the chairman and the minutes secretary. Those who convene the assembly can have the minutes taken down by a notary.
The minutes will be circulated to the members.
Article 9. Executive committee of the association.
1. The executive committee is in charge of the running of the association.
2. The executive committee is elected by and amongst the representatives of the members. The executive committee consist of a minimum of three and a maximum of five officers, as follows:
- a chairman;
- a vice-chairman;
- a secretary-general;
- a treasurer;
- a member.
The functions of secretary-general and treasurer can be fulfilled by the same person.
3. When the number of officers becomes less than three, the executive committee remains fully authorized. It is however compelled to convene a general assembly as soon as possible at which the filling of the vacancies is brought up.
4. More specific regulations on meetings and decision-making by the executive committee can be given in by-laws.
Article 10. Appointment, termination and dismissal of officers of the executive committee.
1. The chairman is appointed by the members represented in the general assembly, for a term of three years and can be reappointed for one further term of three years.
2. The vice-chairman is appointed by the members represented in the general assembly, for a term of three years and can be reappointed for one further term of three years.
3. The secretary-general and the treasurer are appointed by the general assembly for an unlimited term. The functions of secretary-general and treasurer can be fulfilled by the same person, see article 9 clause 2.
4. Appointment of officers of the executive committee is done by the members represented at the general assembly by a simple majority of votes, on condition that at least half of the members are represented at the general assembly; see article 6 clause 5. If less than half of the members are represented at the general assembly, the votes will be given in writing by the members.
5. Membership of the executive committee ends by written resignation by the officer or by dismissal.
6. Dismissal of an officer of the executive committee is done by a majority of two/thirds of the members represented at the general assembly, on condition that at least half of the members are represented. If less than half of the members are represented at the general assembly, the votes will be given in writing by the members; for the dismissal of a member of the executive committee a majority of two/thirds of the members is required.
Article 11. Representation of the association.
The association is lawfully represented by two officers of the executive committee.
Article 12. Annual report and annual accounts.
1. The association’s year runs from the 1st of October to the 30st of September.
2. The executive committee is bound to administer the capital of the association in such a way that the association’s financial rights and liabilities can be known at any time.
3. The executive committee brings its annual report and annual accounts to a general assembly after the end of the association’s year and gives account of its management during
the past financial year. After this general assembly each member can demand these reports and accounts from the executive committee.
4. The executive committee is bound to keep the documents mentioned in the clauses 2 and 3 for a period of ten years.
Article 13. Modification of the statutes.
1. The statutes of the association can only be modified by a decision of the general assembly, summoned for this purpose at least four weeks in advance, with notice that a modification of the statutes will be proposed.
2. A proposition to modify the statutes, in which the proposed modifications are mentioned verbatim, has to be in the possession of all the members at least seven days before the general assembly.
3. A decision to modify the statutes is done in accordance with article 6 clause 6.
4. A modification of the statutes comes only into force after a notarial act has been drawn up. Every member of the executive committee is authorized to have this act drawn up.
Article 14. Dissolution of the association.
1. The association can be dissolved by a decision of the general assembly, in accordance with article 13 clauses 1, 2 and 3.
2. In the case of dissolution of the association, a credit or a debit balance is divided among the organizations who were member at the moment of the decision of dissolution, in the same way as described in the by-laws for the division of costs.
Article 15. By-law.
The general assembly can establish by-laws for every issue not provided in the articles of association, on condition that they are not contrary to the Dutch law, even where the law is not imperative, or to the statutes.
DEFINING THE 'ATLANTIKWALL'
From our Dutch member, the Stichting Menno vcan Coehoorn we received this document, prepared for the "Erfgoedtafel Atlantikwall Zuid-Holland' (Heritage Table province South-Holland), it being the first or at leastone of the first attempots at defining this phenomenon, that covered the coast from northern Norway, through Denmakr, German, Belgium and France.
The Atlantikwall, Definition of a Phenomenon
It might appear that amongst historians and policy makers there is common conception of the Atlantikwall. There are however many interpretations. For this reason, an attempt has been made to approach the Atlantikwall not only as objectively but also functionally.
2. The Atlantikwall in Historical Perspective
There are four discernible phases in the development of the German coastal defences:
Phase 1: Guarding the coastline, defending of key locations (harbours) and invasion preparations (1940-41);
Phase 2: Linear closed defence line against sea-based attacks (late 1941);
Phase 3: Comprehensive closed defence line against sea based and airborne attacks (late 1942-late 1943);
Phase 4: Proactive defence and layered defence lines (late 1943-1944);
b) Prelude (Phase 1)
Guarding of the coastline, defence of key locations (harbours) and invasion preparations (1940-41).
Early June 1940 saw the coastlines of Western Europe from the northern reaches of Norway to southern France in German hands. From then on this coast became the outer reaches of the third Reich. The Wehrmacht kept up, at this point only a primitive guard, as it was still on the advance. Any defences (occasionally bunkers) worth speaking of were placed at key points of strategic interest: ports and harbours on the West European Coast, the Channel Coast and the prestigious Channel Islands; for example. Following their losses at the Battle of Britain coupled with Hitler's expanding Eastern interest, the Wehrmacht gradually began to fill in the forgotten gaps and remote points between their initial strongholds, using radar and artillery positions, thereby slowly forming a series of fortifications along the whole coastline.
c) The Order of 14 December 1941: Die Neue Westwall / the New Westwall (Phase 2)
Linear closed defence line against sea-based attacks (late 1941).
On the 14th of December 1941 Hitler ordered the building of the Neue Westwall and with it came a better picture of the concept for the further expansion of existing strongholds into a sealed defence line “von Eismeer bis zur Biscaya”. This line would protect the important coastal locations, primarily the harbour areas, against enemy attacks from the sea and air, using of course “all available means”.
The defensive concept upon which the Neue Westwall was based, was the assumption that: the robust ability of the defences to take a prolonged pounding would provide sufficient opportunity to provide efficient reinforcements. A challenge, when considering the enormous lengths of coastline to be defended. On the one hand, these principles were dictated by the increased threat of the Allied invasion, and on the other hand by the demand for evermore troops at the Eastern Front. Besides, according to Hitler, the “Neue Westwall” was greatly symbolic and therefore also valuable propaganda. Its realisation turned out to be more challenging and this led to a change of plans.
d) The Benefits of Experience: the Atlantikwall (Phase 3)
Comprehensive closed defence line against sea based and airborne attacks (late 1942-late 1943)
In less than one week of the Atlantikwall-Conference of 13th August 1942 the ill-fated Allied raid on Dieppe took place. It encouraged Hitler's opinion that bomb proof bunkers, a so called Ständige Bunker, were called for to protect his field positions so vulnerable to air raids. This led to Order nr.14 being issued on 25th August 1942 by General Field-Marshal Gerd Von Rundsted, then Supreme Commander of all German troops on the Western front. It required an impenetrable fortress to be made of the Channel an Atlantic coastlines. This order meant a change of plans inevitable. To make the line impenetrable it needed protection from behind as well as up front.
The implications were the formation of a land-front corresponding to the sea-front, imperative to guarding the emplacements both from parachute attack behind lines and pincer attack movements. Tank traps were laid out with walls, dragons teeth , moats and canals were dug as water obstacles.
The expansion of the Sea-front with a land-front called for a further integration within and around the new and existing defences like the radar and airfield bases. This led to the creation of so-called Stutzpunktgruppen. The defence concept required far reaching cooperation between three military services Kreigsmarine, Heer and Luftwaffe.
e) Rommel (Phase 4)
Proactive defence and layered defence lines (late 1943-1944)
Late 1943 field-marshal Erwin Rommel further changed matters as Hitler's inspector of the Atlantikwall. He was of the opinion that an invasion attack should be destroyed at sea and in extreme circumstances on the beaches and that the Wehrmacht was unable to defeat the enemy should they be able to make a bridgehead and break out. Rommel ordered in early 1944 that placement of submerged obstacles and huge numbers of pikes buried at an angle rigged with steel cables and tipped with mines.
He recognized from previous encounters at the front, the increasing risk of allied airborne landings. To counter this danger and protect the rear of the coastal defences, Rommel ordered the existing Landfront and the hinterland expanded. Low lying areas were flooded, Rommel had additional minefields laid, earthworks and obstacles placed.
3. The Atlantikwall as phenomenon
The remains of the Atlantikwall are like war-scars. There are very few visible signs of the German occupation along our coastline. This realisation over the last few years has altered our appreciation of the Atlantikwall. The remains are protected cultural heritage sites.
For current and future stewardship of the Atlantikwall it is therefore important to gain insight into the nature of the defence line, for making balanced interpretations about the significance of (elements of) the Atlantikwall.
The Atlantikwall can be viewed in several different ways:
- a military defence concept, based on a line;
- a discernible, physical infrastructure, mostly near or along the coastline.
- a largely standardized fortifications.
- An integrated defence system.
- a propaganda slogan
a) The Atlantikwall as defence concept
The Atlantikwall Neue Westwall built upon earlier German defence concepts based on lines, like the Ostwall and Westwall. The big difference to these lines is that Atlantikwall wasn't built from one set of blueprints, but under influences of dynamic warfare and military strategy decision making it evolved from 1941 into an integrated defence system encompassing any existing coastguard elements along the West European Coast.
b) The Atlantikwall as physical infrastructure
The German coastal defences that were established in 1940 were primarily aimed at the prevention and repulsion of enemy air and sea attacks. Originally comprised of varying artillery batteries located around harbours and along the coast. Around all these points and at spots in between, they built U-Boot Bunkers (Unterseeboot, Underwater boat / submarine), and S-Boot-Bunkers (Schnellboot, Speedboat / motor torpedo boat), anti-aircraft positions and radar installations were built. These objects and complexes lay within the same are of the defence line we now call the Atlantikwall, whereas they were never formally a part of it. Their presence born of tactical considerations meant they were simply included in the defences as much for their own protection as the added bonus they leant the Atlantikwall itself.
Résumé: The Atlantikwall exists as physical coastal defence structures consisting of individual objects and ensembles into which military objects have been integrated regardless of their own function. These objects continue to be seen as part of the Atlantikwall, even if strictly speaking this is not the case.
c) The Atlantikwall as defence system
The coastal defence could not function without the headquarters inland, in command and responsible for logistic support, communication and supply routes, etc. The so called fall-back emplacements, inundation zones and other barriers further inland are all part of the system. The give the depth and strength to the Atlantikwall.
Résumé: The evolving German coastal defence concept determined the eventual shape and size of the physical infrastructure of the Atlantikwall. The dedicated organisation, management and support made the Atlantikwall the functioning defence system it was.
d) The standardized fortification concept
The standardized fortification concept can be found in:
- the central management building the Atlantikwall and hierarchy within defence bases according to category: Widerstandsnest, Stützpunkt, Stützpunktgruppe and Verteidigungsbereich (Festung);
- the standardisation of bunkers and objects: Ständiger Bau, Küver, Verstärkt Feldmässig, Sonderkonstruktionen, etc.;
In German sources the line was also referred to as “Perlen am Perlenschnur” describing the strongholds as pearls with in between the “freie Küste” the coastline as the necklace.
e) The Atlantikwall as propaganda slogan.
The war reports, newspapers and magazines created an image of the Atlantikwall as an impervious wall making “Festung Europa” impregnable. This propaganda message would put the German people at ease, keep the soldiers' moral high, suppress the occupied territory whilst discourage and demoralise the enemy.
4. Defining the Atlantikwall
Based on the previous analysis it possible to define, depending on the chosen perspective, what the scope is of the Atlantikwall, and which objects and defensive works can be included.
The physical borders of the Atlantikwall comprise:
- The outer borders of the fortifications and bunker complexes (Widerstandsnest, Stützpunkt), or combination of bunker complexes (Stützpunktgruppe, Verteidigungsbereich, Festung) both Seafront and Landfront as established by the Wehrmacht as coastguard;
- The stretches of coast between the various Stützpunktgruppen and Vertriedungsbereiche (Festung) with a variable depth of several kilometers land inwards.
b) Defence system
The elements that make up the Atlantikwall defence system also include all the hinterland units, positions and headquarters of the coastal defence forces. The length of the Atlantikwall stretches some 6200 kilometers, measured straight along the coast ignoring coves and fjords from the Norwegian-Russian frontier to the Franco-Spanish border, including the Channel Islands.
Huber, T. (2003). Der Atlantikwall 1940-1945. Die Befestigung de Küsten West- und Nordeuropas im Spannungsfeld nationalsozialistischer Kreigführung und Ideologie.
Molt, A. (1993). Der Deutsche Festungbau von der Memel zum Atlantik. Fetungpioniere, Ingenieurkorps, Pioniertruppe 1900-1945.
Rolf, R. (2014). Atlantikwall. Batteries and Bunkers.
Den Haag, 22 February 2016,