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Author, film researcher and member of the Swedish Military History Commission.

Saturday, July 31, 2010

The Wehrmacht´s Last Window?

Just back from a hike in the Narvik area. That place just becomes more and more of a favourite of mine for "history hiking" as it always provides new insights and puzzles. I have searched for traces of WWII in Russia and in the Nordic countries since the late 1980s but have never found a Wehrmacht shelter with an intact original window. Until now.

And there were more discoveries. This trip, although it lasted just three days, provided insights into the life of soldiers from both the Heer (army), Luftwaffe and SS. One small remnant from a Norwegian soldier we found too.

This is one of the best German WWII shelters I have ever found, situated just some two or three hundred metres from the Norwegian-Swedish border. It is the only shelter I have found with a fully intact original window (the one to the right). In Finland, in the "Sturmbockstellung", there are some shelters with windows - but those are new.

Note how the roof beams are giving up. The roof may come down any day - so, do not enter, or at the very least, enter very slowly, treading very carefully, with a buddy waiting outside. But my recommendation is really DO NOT ENTER.

The reason this position is so original is partly because it is utterly hard to find. Not very far from it are half a dozen positions that were more destroyed by the retreating Germans, easier to find and that have obviously been visited several times since the war.

This window lacks glass, but has some unspent 7.92 millimetre rounds lying behind the empty frame. Not sure why. The view ought to be rather unchanged since WWII, or since the time of the Vikings, or even Christ.

Lying mostly outside, we moved these remains of German winter trousers - a loose fitting type to be worn over the standard issue trousers - indoors. There were still one or two metal buttons, covered by white cloth (one can be discerned in the upper right hand region). There were also small bits and pieces of leather straps lying about.

What you see we mostly did not dig up, nor did we take home these historic objects from Norway. In some cases we moved them up from cracks in the ground, to study them close-up and photograph them. But then we put them back, so that others may get the same experience. Still, wishing to protect historic sites and their artifacts, I will not be very specific about where these photos were taken. But if you have the enthusiasm, fitness, necessary maps (from mostly Norwegian books) and patience (not least!) you can get some tips from these photos and captions.

An overview of the most intact position we found, with the Rombak fjord in the background (the distant spot of water).

In many places there is zero vegetation and earth, but in places where there is, nature is swallowing up what fell to the ground. This bottle seemed complete but I did not pull it out to check. Nature works slowly in these parts.

This is just a fraction of what we found. I will blog more about this trip in two or three days and then write one or two more posts until I am finished reporting about this hike.


  1. Absolutely mindblowing. Reminds so much of my exsausting hikes high up on the Alps along the 1915-1918 front line in Northern Italy (altitude there being between 2500 and 3500 metres above see level)


  2. Recognize the place. Might go there this summer.