Home Abandoned Places Touring a WWII German Nazi Bunker – Siegfried Line Westwall Museum

Touring a WWII German Nazi Bunker – Siegfried Line Westwall Museum

by Derrick James
bunker tunnel
Inside the Westwall Museum

I just returned from a trip to Germany. Miss me? I went to visit family. They live right along the Luxembourg border, so naturally I requested a quick drive over to Irrel, Germany, to the Westwall Museum.

This is a World War II German Nazi bunker that was part of Germany’s Siegfried Line. Otherwise known as the Westwall, the Siegfried Line was a defensive line built during the 1930s opposite the French Maginot Line. From September 1944 to March 1945, the Westwall was subject to a large-scale Allied offensive.

According to the official Westwall Museum Irrel website:

From 1936 (officially from 1938) a “protection line” was built to protect the German West Border, consisting of bunkers, tank ranks, trenches and barbed wire barriers. This line stretched from north of the Lower Rhine to the south below Basel over a length of 630 km and was named “Westwall” during the course of the construction period.

The museum is maintained by Irrel’s volunteer fire department, and they’ve done a great job restoring it. The museum is only open to casual visitors on Sundays and during public holidays in the summer. We were fortunate in that we had a family friend who opened it up to give us a private tour.

Hollowed out U.S. WWII bomb casings on display.

The bunker was constructed with 2 meter (6.5′) thick concrete walls. Both of the upper floors were divided into 45 rooms of different sizes, including troop quarters, guard rooms, gunnery rooms, first-aid stations, supply rooms, a cold storage room, kitchen, and a radio station.

Two diesel generators supplied the power to run the ventilation system, water pump, heating, and lighting. The lowest floor contained the water pump room with a 180 meter-deep well. The Irrel bunker was heavily damaged in 1947 during the French occupation. The local volunteers began digging it out in 1976.

bunker hallway
Bunker Hallway

The following picture is a display of WWII era gas masks. This was a bunk room, as you can see against the back wall. Officers had more comfortable metal mesh that their beds were made from. Everyone else had bunks that were woven with rope.

bunk room with gas masks
Bunk Room with Gas Masks

The volunteers set out various shell casings, ammo cans, and random equipment that they uncovered as they excavated the site.

artillery casings
Empty shell casings, ammo cans, etc.
artillery shells
Artillery shells on display.

Today, the only electricity running in the bunker is for the lights. There is no active ventilation system. When I asked how the air was getting down there, our guide didn’t know. They haven’t figured it out, so there must be some passive system that is still working.

bunker room

The air down there was very cool. During its operation, the bunker was heated. There was a sink still intact, but there was no washroom in the bunker, just an old space near the top where any soldiers that were exposed to gas attacks could be hosed down.

sink room
Sink Room

The bunker could be defended from different firing positions, including two gun turrets with six firing holes for machine guns, a 500mm grenade thrower, and a flame thrower. A watch turret was used for observation and artillery shooting commands.

view outside the bunker
View of Irrel outside the bunker.
Nazi display
Nazi display at the entrance of the bunker.

Irrel, Germany is not near most tourist destinations in Germany, but if you find yourself nearby for some reason, or you’re in Luxembourg next door, consider a Sunday drive over to the museum and see it for yourself. It’s a rare piece of German World War II history that you can walk through.

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Caliche Kid June 5, 2019 - 4:16 pm

Right now I’m reading “Citizen Soldiers” by Stephen E. Ambrose and he writes extensively about these bunkers and The Siegfried line. The Allies hit a stone wall when their race across France hit the West Wall. Due to the lack of gasoline for the offense and the West Wall’s defenses, the Allies mad rush toward Germany and Berlin was halted in its tracks in September, 1944. Which allowed the Germans to prepare for the Battle of the Bulge Offense.

If you’re interested in WW II, I highly recommend this book by Ambrose. He tells the story from the viewpoint of the guys who were doing the actual fighting on the Front Line. One of the best books I’ve read about WWII. He points out a lot of mistakes made by the Allies and the Germans, and the many errors of American High command and some of its policies. He also points out some of the good things.

Thanks for posting these pictures. As they say, a picture is worth a thousand words, and these really gave me a true picture of what our guys faced and how the Germans could withstand any bombardment and come out fighting when it stopped. Or to even call down their own artillery on themselves to help fend off the Allies attacks.

Prepper Press June 5, 2019 - 4:26 pm

Very interesting – thanks for the historical contribution.


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