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If you want to see an unusual attraction and gain insights into World War II history, we recommend a visit to the old German coastal fortress at Grønsvik, which is now a museum. As you walk from the attractive parking lot and picnic area, you enter a dark chapter of European history.
After Nazi Germany surrendered and ended its occupation of Norway, Grønsvik coastal fortress, like many others along the coast, was subjected to major damage. Today, Grønsvik has been partially restored and turned into a museum. Exhibitions cast light on the war in general, and especially on the role the coastal fortresses played during the German occupation.
Visitors can explore the foxholes, gun positions and the command bunker. These are open year round. The Grønsvik coastal fortress and museum are situated along the Norwegian Scenic Route Helgelandskysten (Fv17), just north of Stokkvågen.
During the war years 1940–45, the Germans established the Atlantic Wall, a slong eries of coastal fortresses that stretched from the Pyrenees in the south all the way to the Arctic Ocean in the far north. More than 350 coastal fortresses were built along the Norwegian coast, including the one at Grønsvik. The mission of this fortress was to control the entrance to the Ranfjord and the fjord called Sjona.
The Germans forced 77 Soviet and 65 Polish prisoners of war to build the fortress. An unknown number of Norwegian workers also participated, some voluntarily, others under duress. The Soviet prisoners of war were subjected to especially brutal treatment and compelled to do hard physical labour. Many of them suffered from malnutrition and disease. The local Norwegians felt great compassion for these ragged and hungry prisoners of war, and they defied the German ban and surreptitiously gave them food and clothing.
A simple burial ground was made for the seven Soviet prisoners who died during the construction. After the war, the skulls were dug up and moved to the war cemetery on Tjøtta. There is a memorial to them at the Grønsvik coastal fortress.
The fortress and the gun positions are strategically situated so as to have an optimal view of the shipping lane and the archipelago. Inside the mountain, the Germans blasted out rooms and passages to their gun positions, bunkers and foxholes, which were all well camouflaged. Today, the coastal fortress and the surrounding area are open to the public year round.
The Grønsvik coastal fortress is situated along route Fv17, just 2 km north of the Stokkvågen junction. There is a café on site.
Read more about Helgeland at www.visithelgeland.com