Handling of the physical remains

After the War, many physical remains, particularly from the Atlantic Wall and British Defence Systems still remained.

In the immediate aftermath of the War, as material and equipment became rare and costly, civilians would take concrete and armoured doors so as to reuse these around their homes.

In the long-term, they were reserved different fates depending on the condition and location.

Primarily, they were abandoned, without any conservation or promotion policy. A lot were covered in graffiti, or used as rubbish dumps. Often, decisions would be taken on a local scale so as to cordon these off, out of a concern for safety. They were damaged by weather, and nature took hold, sand dunes moved, flowers grew and made it difficult to access, and local wildlife, such as bats, for instance, used them as a refuge. Many conservation and wildlife protection associations took an interest and have organised programmes and projects around the bunkers.

Others were to be destroyed completely, once more out of a concern for safety, or due to local land planning policies. As many of the remains were scattered along the coastline, the importance of protecting the beauty of beaches and tourist residences (buildings and campsites) sped up the destruction process.

More rarely, they have been re-used by civilians and the military. People with Bunkers in their garden would use them as a garage or shed, and some farmers with larger constructions in their fields would use them as stables or storage premises.

Since the 1980s, public interest in these physical remnants of the War has increased, and many tourism and cultural projects are springing up to ensure their conservation and promotion. Some of the larger constructions have been turned into museums or are used for guided tours. The WWII Heritage project is a part of this and aims at listing all such structures so as to increase knowledge and access to such monuments.

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