As the war in Europe raged through the early 1940s, Germany built thousands of concrete bunkers to defend the continent’s western shore from an Allied sea attack. This Atlantic Wall stretched from Norway to the border of France and Spain, and what remains all these decades later is darkly beautiful.
Photographer Stephan Vanfleteren, 44, grew up near some of these structures as a child living in Belgium, but never thought much of them. They were just crumbling concrete relics of the past. That changed last year, however, when he returned to the Belgian coast to photograph bunkers for the Museum Atlantikwall at Raversyde–Belgium. Seeing them with fresh eyes, he was immediately taken by their graceful, elegant design. He produced a series of beautiful black and white photographs that soon will be released as a book.
“Some of the buildings reminded me of the Guggenheim museum or the Fallingwater house by Frank Lloyd Wright,” says Vanfleteren, who still lives in Belgium. “These were buildings made for strategic defense but there was also real beauty and a connection with modern architecture.”