General Richter’s underground bunker

The bunker is closed until February 17, 2024. Thank you for your understanding.

Located under the Memorial Museum, the former command post of the German general Wilhelm Richter played a crucial role during the first decisive weeks of the Battle of Normandy. This strategic historic site has been entirely refurbished to tell its story and offer visitors new keys for understanding the German occupation and the Resistance.

The command post

In 1943, General Richter decided to provide his unit with an underground command post to supervise operations in the event of an invasion.

The site chosen was a former stone quarry located northwest of Caen that had served as a firing ground for the French military prior to 1939. A 70-meter-long tunnel was dug through the limestone rock by workers from “Organization Todt”. The rock face with its back to the sea and the thickness of the rock protected the construction from bombardments. The work was completed at the end of 1943. The bunker contained a radio transmission center and was equipped with a ventilation system, a generator, and a water cistern. Each of the three entrances on alternate sides was defended by a machine gun.

Double-leaf armored doors, no longer in place, completed the defense system. On the plateau overlooking the quarry, on the site of the current Memorial Museum, minefields, barbed wire, and trenches protected the immediate surroundings.

The 716th Division and D-Day

In the summer of 1944 the command post was operating with a reduced staff. On June 6, there was an unusual amount of activity.

At 00:40, General Richter was informed by telephone of parachute drops and gliders to the east of the Orne, in the area of Ranville. The Merville battery was under attack. He was convinced that the invasion was underway and put his division on alert. Troops from the German 21st Armored Division counterattacked in the direction of Bénouville. At two o’clock in the morning, Allied planes began to bomb support positions and coastal batteries. Five hours later, the first waves of assault landed. The Anglo-Canadian troops broke through the positions held by the 716th Division and infiltrated the area between Bayeux and Caen. General Marcks, commander of the 84th Army Corps, left Saint-Lô for Caen to organize a counterattack from Richter’s CP. An armored column reached the coast at Luc-sur-Mer in the evening, but withdrew, fearing an attack from the rear.

The 716th Division lost 3,000 men in a single day. Caen, which had to be taken by the Allies that evening, would not be fully liberated until July 19, 1944, after devastating Allied bombardments.

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