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Hidden deep in the forests of the French town of Eperlecques, the German army built an assembly and launch base for V2 rockets during the Second World War.

The Blockhaus of Eperlecques

The hidden Blockhaus of Eperlecques

Hidden deep in the forests of the French town of Eperlecques, the German army built an assembly and launch base for V2 rockets during the Second World War.

In March 1943, the construction of "Kraftwerk Nordwest" started. Thousands of Belgian, Dutch and Russian forced laborers were recruited to build the giant concrete cube.

The dimensions certainly appeal to the imagination: 90 meters long, 50 meters wide, and 33 meters high.

A thousand bombs and grenades

The launch installation was supposed to be completed in October 1943, but the British Air Force stopped that. The unusual activity in the middle of the forest had not escaped their notice.

In August, the bunker was bombed for the first time by British bombers. The northern side of the bunker was severely damaged, where the parts of the V2 rockets would be delivered via underground tracks from Saint-Omer and Calais.


The bombing put the finger on the wound: Eperlecques was anything but a suitable location to shoot V2 rockets into the air, even though it was only 150 kilometers as the crow flies from London .

Until August 1944, the complex would be bombed 25 times. The traces can still be seen today. At the foot of the bunker, there is a crater with a diameter of 42 meters and a depth of 18 meters. Debris is lying everywhere all around.

Liquid oxygen

The result? A V2 rocket would never take off from here. The German organization Todt moved to Helfaut, about ten kilometers south of Eperlecques.

It started at the end of 1943 with the construction of La Coupole, an underground launch site where not a single V2 rocket went into the air.

Control tower

Meanwhile, forced laborers in Eperlecques continued to work on the southern half of the bunker, which remained undamaged for the time being.

The tracks for the planned V2 launches can still be seen at the front of the building, where a protrusion was to become the control tower.

Rocket fuel

The Germans changed their minds: only liquid oxygen, the fuel for the V2 engines, would be produced in Eperlecques.

The facades resemble cheese with holes, with dozens of rusty holes for pipes.

20,000 tons of concrete

A five-meter-thick concrete slab on a hydraulic lift protected the work from fighter aircraft. In just a few months, the Germans pumped through 20,000 tons of concrete, and at the beginning of 1944, the time had finally come: the southern section was finished.

Three compressors in the belly of the bunker were able to begin producing the rocket fuel.

Normandy landings

But not for long: the Germans fled in the summer of 1944 after a new bombardment. Moreover, Allied troops had now landed on the beaches of Normandy.

The beginning of the end. On September 4, 1944, Canadian troops captured the complex.

National monument

Since 1973, the giant bunker in Northern France has opened its doors to visitors, and in 1985, the building was declared a national monument.

In addition to all the V2 violence, the site also has a 45-meter-long launch pad for V1 rockets.

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