Think of your most cliche idea of a spy/Cold War fortress. Picture it in your mind. Now let’s take a trip with one of my courses, Enemy Within: Spies and Espionage in the Cold War, to two hidden bunkers from the Cold War era in Denmark. The first of which takes place on the southern coast, in Boesdal.
The open-air museum, Cold War Museum Stevnsfort, contains 1960’s aerial defenses, missiles, and a huge bunker in the middle of a farmers’ landscape, built into a cliff upon the sea.
We walked through fields of WWII equipment. Tanks and Nazi defense cannons left barely scathed from the war have been transported here to contribute to the museum, and we even walked inside some of the larger defense bunkers. The area is not so secret anymore (National security is more based around servers and computer tech), so anyone can walk in a see the old surveillance site!
As we continued the tour, however, we came to the end at a large mound of grass just off the shoreline. Alright. Well, I thought, that’s an interestingly short tour for an hour drive all the way out there. But the tour guide rounded us toward the other side of the hill, and there appeared a door. The door opened downward, and my eyes widened as the possibilities were revealed to me.
Down below, we descended into a corridor that was built to house hundreds of secret officials or civilians in the case of a mass foreign attack. The corridor was cold, wet, moldy, but everything I would have suspected a secret governmental site to look like (from my experiences watching the Hoth bunker in Star Wars, various James Bond-inspired underground establishments, and Independence Day). There were corridors and halls branching off in various directions as if a tree trunk, all underneath the green fields we had just walked minutes before.
Entering these branching corridors, we saw computers and Cold War technology: radar systems, radios, microphones and coding documents that would have taken a trained mind to interpret, and a less modern perspective than my own.
The tech was used for tracking, coding, and defensive/offensive tactics, and there were always people living there. As we moved down the long hallway connecting each room, we entered upon the living the corridors, where the food was kept, and the ammunition.
This bunker now tells the lives of a few dozen people during the Cold War, and the severity of it all. It was a serious threat everywhere; in Denmark, the UK, Russia, the US, Baltic States, everywhere over Europe, with consequences in the farthest reaches of the world.
Continuing toward the end of the long hallway, we came to a door. The door opened out unto Faxe Bay, the body of water lining Southern Denmark. It fully clung to the image of a cliche secret bunker base I’ve always grasped onto; a door in the base of a cliff, lots of coded documents that mean nothing to my eyes, and computers with radar systems neighboring each other everywhere.
All that this base needed was a pathway next to the door for cars to take an action-packed escape into the sea, instantly transforming midair into a boat. A bit extravagant. Fully awesome.
My espionage class visited one more, less intense bunker hidden beneath the Carlsberg brewery, right inside Copenhagen. The brewery began in 1847 by JC Jacobsen, and was named after his son, Carl. As JC did not have much access to education as a child, he pressured Carl constantly through his life to be a great student and always do his work to the best of his ability. This pressure was put on to an extent to which they both got in multiple fights, and Carl began his own brewery, announced “New Carlsberg”, just down the road from JC’s own “New Carlsberg”.
It is unknown when or why exactly JC placed a secret bunker deep inside Old Carlsberg’s cellars, but it was, and the room was used thoroughly until the year of 2004 to strategize between government leaders and advisors, planning defenses/attacks.
It is so strange to think that there are these bunkers just lying around Denmark. It makes one think just how many there may be in my own country, and across the world, in great breweries, or simply beneath a mound of random grass.
Whatever and wherever they are, it sure is fascinating to see these things in the present day – and place yourself in the shoes of those who lived day-in and day-out surveying the landscape for signs of the enemy or an imminent attack.