Zevenkerken
Oberbauleitung der Organisation Todt Belgiën

Situation October 13 2003 and December 15 2003
Page created September 1 2012

All pictures are © 2012 T.Cools

Google Earth map with different locations.

In 2003 we got the exeptional permission to visit the Abbay to investigate the WWII remains of the Oberbauleitung der Organisation Todt Belgiën.
So we were able to visit the two large remaining bunkers on this site and the other artifacts in the garden of the abbay.

We want to thank the authorities of the abbay for making this possible.  Only the two MG Schartenstand are visible from outside the abbay.
The other artifacts are on the property of the abbay, so if you want to see them you must ask permission.

The O.T. headquarters started in the girl school 'Hemelsdaele' in Bruges, Belgium as a headquarter for the organisation of the Atlantikwall from Zeeland to Dunkerque.
From March 25 1942 the O.T. moved to the abbay of Zevenkerken due to the expanding activities for the comming construciton of the Atlantikwall.
The O.B.L - O.T. Belgiën was responsible for the area Walcheren(NL) to Petite Synthe(FR) and was specialised in organising the military constructions and transportation.

From February 15, 1943 the N.S.K.K. Transportstaffel 15 was replaced by the  N.S.K.K. Transportstaffel 2.

Unfortunately the monks from the abbay of Zevenkerke had no choice and left the abbay in just 8 days.

The Belgian Regiment Standards were saved by Dom Nève; this means that the Germans never found them.

Although this story http://www.huisdervleugels.be/vieillestiges/vtb_sauvetage.htmtells something different,
it is quite possible(although not proven) that some of the Belgian Regiment Standards were buried in the small work place(small shelter on plan) and this according to my source.
Others were at a secret place in the Abbey and those which couldn't be hidden in the Abbey were in the Church at Middelkerke behind a confession chair.
Some were also hidden at the Koude Keuken and those who couldn't be protected were burned.  The Germans never found them.

When the monks left the abbay, the Germans immidiately started to convert the abbay in something else:

- A Casino was installed.
- Many fresco's by the german artist N.Paul Killer were painted.

Between the two entrances this text could be seen:
'Wer für des Reiches Herrlichkeit Bei Tag sich fleissig tummelt Dem sei vergönnt, dass er zur Zeit Am Feierabend bummelt'.
The dinner room from the monks was converted into a Cinema and Bar.

In may 1944, the O.B.L. Belgiën moved to Ghent(or Antwerp according to another source).

This is what is left today:

1: Sk Bunker  - Gruppenunderstand - LS
2: Sk Bunker - Gruppenunderstand - LS
3: small shelter or work place
4: Mg Schartenstand
5: Mg Schartenstand
6 and 7: Gun pit
8: Artesian well

There is another small Vf bunker with one room not listed here.  Maybe it will be visited in somewhere in the future.

MG Schartenstand 1

Two MG Schartenstands are still there.  Originaly there were 7 connected with trenches(at this place still there)  and gun pits in between.(two of them were found).
Around the abbay a concrete wall covered with barb wire protected the O.B.L. Belgiën.
It is not clear weather this is the current fence standing there.  I believe part of it is original.

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This bunker doesn't have a flanking wall protecting the entrance.

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Inside the room; three machine gun positions.

MG Schartenstand 2

A small corridor protected with a flanking wall leads to the single room.

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Inside there's one room with some modern WWII cartoons.

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Gun Pits

Below, the two gun pits which are still there.  A concrete fence is build over it.  The abbey however was protect by a concrete fence with barb wire.

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Small Shelter

According to my source, some of the Belgian Regiment flags were hidden in this place.

Artesian well

Probably WW2 origin.

SK Gruppenunderstand
 
 

Two large bunkers were build probably against air raid attacks.  Although we call the bunkers as a 'SK Gruppenunderstand' maybe they are more suitable as a L(uft)S(schutz) bunker.
The bunkers are made of 'Formstein' and are almost identical.  Only inside the bunkers differ slightly.  They both have one entrance with a flanking wall of 2.5m* and one emergency exit.  One large room dominates the bunker but sideways, there are some separate compartiments.  The walls of the bunkers are approximately 2.30m* wide.

Dimensions*

Volume: 180m²
Hight: 4.65m
Roof: 2.54m thick

SK Gruppenunderstand 1

This bunker has one large room: 'Kommandoraump'**.  Anorther room, probably served as a Verbandplatz/Sanitätsraum.**

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The bunkers are largely overgrown.

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'Eingang'

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One room with emergency exit and 'Verbandplatz/Sanitätsraum'**.

Filter connection.  Power cables are probably post war.

SK Gruppenunderstand 2

The bunker also has one large room: 'Kommandoraum'**.  There are two other rooms: Sanitätsraum** and WC or wasschraum**.
Another room is placed at the backside of the emergency exit: Telefonvermittlung**.

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In and around the bunker.

Left: WC/Wasschraum**.
Middle: Verbandplatz or Sanitätsraum**
Right: Ingang.

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Backside of the bunker with 'Notausgang'.

Although thanks to the resistance and the reconnaissance flights of Fighter Command, the bunkers were quickly discovered but no air raid has ever been done.

Sources

-**Information gathered by our research and the investigations by R.Toussaint.
-* According to 'Kuststreek in de Vuurlijn' deel 2, Hfdstk 6: De Nieuwe Westwall.
-Atlantikwall in Zeeland en Vlaanderen: Hans Sakkers, Hans Houterman.
-De Atlantische Muur Deel 1 en Deel 2, Alain van Geeteruyen - Dirk Peeters.

->Do not enter freely, the bunkers are on private grounds<-

Special thanks goes to the Prior from the abbay of Zevenkerken for giving us
special permission to our visit in 2003.

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