Haunting pictures of the decaying WWII ‘pillbox’ bunkers that remind Europe of its dark past

Moray, Scotland

As conflict in World War II ramped up, both the Nazi and Allied forces raced to fortify their shores against invading troops. They built thousands of structures, from simple rudimentary “pillboxes,” small concrete rooms with peepholes for firing weapons, to more complex fortresses with multiple purposes.

Old WWII pillboxes
English pillboxes from WWII
Abandoned pillboxes of WWII

Now, with the end of the second World War almost 70 years behind us, many of these structures still exist, dotting Europe’s coastline. Many have not been preserved, and serve as a painful reminder of an earlier time, slowly crumbling back into the sea.
Photographer Marc Wilson hasn’t forgotten about these buildings, though. Wilson, an Englishman, has traveled more than 23,000 miles over five different countries to document the abandoned pillboxes, bunkers, gun emplacements, observation posts, and command centers of Europe. He visited 143 sites and captured what remained before the structures were totally gone.

“I have always been interested in the idea of the landscape and the objects we place in it as holding the stories, histories, and memories of the past,” says Wilson, who says his European background and family history also drew him to the story.

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