Second World War: Batterij Heerenduin
When I first found this place it was entirely an accident, but I had read that there were still some Second World War bunkers along the Dutch coastline. After the war, most of what was known as the "Atlantik Wall" was reclaimed by the sea, dismantled or destroyed for obvious reasons; dark and terrific reminders of the Nazi occupation in Europe.
Some of these bunkers near Ijmuiden were originally built by the Dutch earlier in the 20th century, and then adapted by the Nazi occupiers to protect entry to the North Sea Canal. By 1945, a defensive wall made up of similar defensive structures, stretched from northern Spain up to Norway's coastline. This wall defended the coast from an Allied invasion of Continental Europe from the west.
For whatever reason, these remaining Gun Batteries and some surrounding buildings have remained mostly intact, and in 2013, they were listed as national historic buildings.
Though ominous looking, I find it interesting and even appropriate that they are covered in colourful graffiti. They are no longer symbols of power and oppression. They are a blank canvas for free people, and children often seen climbing and playing on these hulking relics of the Second World War.
When I leave this place, I have lingering thoughts of Canadian military landings in places similar to this in Dieppe, Dunkirk and Courseulles. Scenes like these have been brought back to life in movies like Saving Private Ryan.
It's a chilling feeling to have a brief glimpse into those days long past but always remembered. On this day, the same sun that lit wartime days sets peacefully into the horizon of a free land.