With its 1,7 km of corridors, between 18 to 20 meters below ground, carved into the limestone of Stevns Klint, the underground fortress housed ammunition magazines, an artillery center, engineering centers, residential facilities, a hospital, and a mortuary. If the fortress came under nuclear attack, everything on the surface, within a radius of a couple of hundred kilometers, would be vapourised in the shockwave from a nuclear explosion.
The soldiers manning this defense post were fully aware, that every day they went to work, could potentially be their last. There would be no means of escape, in the minutes after they became aware of an impending attack. Instead, they had to remain at their posts, and for the chosen few, take the decision whether to launch a counter-attack, if the threat was real. That's a lot of responsibility to have on your shoulders.
The original main battery consisted of 2 armored towers with dual 15cm cannons, and with a range of around 23km, could cover the mouth of the Baltic Sea, all the way over to the Swedish coast. Until 1943, the cannons were in use aboard the German battleship Gneisenau, after which they were installed in the German built battery at 'Grådyb' on Fanø, as part of the Atlantic Wall fortifications on the West coast of Denmark, from where they were moved to Stevnsfortet, in 1953. The underground fortress remained operational right up to the year 2000, when it was decommissioned (though left fully intact) by the Royal Danish Navy, effectively bringing an end the 47 years of service, as a bastion of NATO and Danish defence during the Cold War period.
The Cold War began at the end of the Second World War, and lasted until the fall of the Berlin wall 1989, and the eventual collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991. It was an era of great hostility between western and eastern forces, and a continuing state of political and military tension between, on one side, the US and NATO, and on the other side, the USSR and an alliance of other Communist states.
Though never leading to outright nuclear war, it was a time charged with espionage, propaganda, conventional and nuclear arms races, and diplomatic, military, and economic instability. Given the widespread nuclear paranoia and extreme caution being excercised on both sides, it's easy to understand the necessity for a facility such as Stevnsfortet. Today, the Cold War Museum features a large exhibition of military equipment, including a fully equipped missile site above ground, which strongly illustrates just how tense and potentially world-changing the Cold War era actually was.
The Cold War Museum Stevnsfort was opened to the public in 2008, and is visited by around 40.000 visitors every year. The 1,5 hour guided tour through the large underground system of the fortress, will bring you back in time, to when the slightest human misjudgement could spark off World War III. You can visit the command centres, from where the potential attack threat from the East was monitored, and where a single decision to launch a counter-offensive missile, would have serious and immediate consequences for the world in general.
Stevnsfort is protected cultural heritage as a national monument from the the Cold War, and is part of the geological site 'Stevns Klint', which is currently a UNESCO World Heritage candidate. Cold War Museum Stevnsfort is a part of Østsjællands Museum, a regional museum working within the fields of Geology, Cultural History and the Living Nature.
All visits in the underground fortress are guided tours with a duration of 1½ hour. The guided tours are in Danish, but English language audio guides are available.
Tickets can be booked online or by telephone +45 56 50 28 06, or you can buy tickets at the entrance to the museum.
COLD WAR MUSEUM STEVNSFORT
4673 Rødvig Stevns
+45 5650 2806