The German occupation of Denmark - 1940-45 - put extreme pressure on life in Hanstholm. In a few years, this peaceful fishing village turned into the strongest fortress in Denmark, and eventually the population was forced away from their homes.
Hanstholm, home to Northern Europe's largest WW2 fortress, which together with its sister battery at Kristiansand, Norway, was built to prevent the British fleet entering the Baltic. The battery consisted of four 38 cm (15”) guns, each weighing 110 tonnes and with a range of 55 km (34 miles), almost halfway to Norway. The short gap the guns couldn't cover was heavily mined.
Also on this vast complex are ammunition & crew bunkers to support the battery, as well as searchlight & radar stations, machine gun emplacements, observation, range finding and command bunkers and not least a section of the 4.5 km (3 mile) narrow gauge railway system used to transport the enormous shells. Some bunkers have been restored to their original and many more are open for the public to enter.
In the modern exhibition building, which also forms the entrance to one of the 38 cm bunkers, is an exhibition titled ‘Enemy and Neighbour - Hanstholm Occupation’ and ‘War Machine’. Its overall theme is the ‘Atlantic Wall’ - the chain of fortifications that Hitler had built from Kirkenes in Northern Norway to the Pyrenees at the French Spanish border between 1942-44. The exhibition tells the story of the soldiers' daily lives and their weapons, the ‘Atlantic Wall’s development and the daily lives of the Danish civilian population living in the shadows of the fortress.