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Visit the Danish military bunker and nuclear attack-proof fortress, located 20 meter below ground level, with tunnels and operating rooms.

It is a bit scary really to visit the secret fortress at Stevns. Buried deep down in the limestone cliffs of Stevns, it reminds us of the 24-hour military surveillance of the air and sea traffic of the Soviet Union and the Warsaw pact members in the sea and air surrounding Denmark. Unfortunately relevant again today.

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By Bente D. Knudsen  Pictures: Private and Visitdenmark Kim Wyong

If you are interested in history, a visit to the unique military bunker and nuclear attack-proof fortress, located 20 meter below ground level, with more than 1.9 km of tunnels and operating rooms, is fascinating. Top that with the guides being former fortress employees full of spy tales; you are in for an eventful day.

Members of the staff at Stevns Fortet remember the 1 July 1991 vividly. On this day, the eight members of the Warsaw pact decided to disband the pact and only a few months later the Soviet Union collapsed.

This led to the official ending of the Cold War efforts in Denmark and the most important NATO listening post in the Baltic Sea, Stevns fortet, reduced staff and ultimately closed in 2000. 40 years at the front-line, with its strategic location at the exit of the Baltic Sea, only 90 km from East Germany, was over.

Since then it has reopened as a unique museum enabling visitors a glance into military surveillance life during the Cold War. It seems ironic that today, 25 years later, Danish military is again looking for personnel with Russian and nuclear competences.

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“This is quite a paradigm shift,” says senior researcher Flemming Spidsboel Hansen about the job adverts of the Military Intelligence Service, FE, to Danish newspaper Jyllands Posten.

“We have started talking about Russia in a completely different way compared to just a few years ago. Russia is treated differently both politically, in the media and on social networks. Opinion polls show that in Denmark, and other western countries, people are increasingly worried about Russia.”

According to Flemming Spidsboel Hansen, the job postings are a reaction to the changed security threat to Denmark as for instance Russian military air-planes are again frequent visitors above Denmark.

Since 1991, Danish military expenditure has been drastically reduced; from 2.1 percent of the gross national product to an expected 1.15 percent in 2016. This is expected to change and increase with the new budgets for the Danish Defence.

During the Cold War, Denmark established the strongest defence ever seen with lots of resources put into construction of defence positions and air-raid shelters for civilians, as well as training of the armed forces.

The end of the Cold War enabled Denmark to change its focus from defending its territory – of which the Stevns Fort was part, and instead focus more on international missions. This is changing again.

The renewed focus on knowledge about Russia and its nuclear weapons is simply about trying to recreate some of the capacity, which was disbanded when it was believed that Russia was no longer a threat to Denmark. As early as 1993 it was decided that Russia should no longer be considered a military threat to Denmark,” says Flemming Spidsboel Hansen.

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In 2016, NATO decided that up to 4,000 soldiers should again be stationed in the three Baltic States and Poland. Denmark is contributing with 200 soldiers.

It seems highly unlikely that Stevns fortet will be reopened for military service (it was in 2012 given status as a protected heritage site). A visit  does give a great insight into the technology available at the time and the immense technological developments since then.

A new exhibition just opened in April 2018, ” The Atomic bomb – friend or foe?” focuses on the impact of the atomic threat and casts some light over its dilemmas and problematics.

 

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Location: 
Koldkrigsmuseum Stevnsfort
Korsnæbsvej 60
4673 Rødvig

The museum is open every day from 10:00 to 17:00 until 31 October. The underground visit is only possible on a guided tour.

The last guided tour starts at 15:00. You can buy tickets online before arriving. The guided tour is in Danish with audio guides in English and German available in limited numbers.

How to get there:

By train: Take the S-line E from Copenhagen Central Station to Køge and change to the local train 210 to Rødvig. From Rødvig you can walk along the limestone cliff and its magnificent landscape to the museum. Distance is about three km.

By car from Copenhagen: Take the high way E47 towards Rødby and E55. Take exit 33 and drive towards Køge – from here follow the road signs to Stevns Klint and St. Heddinge and then the signs to Koldkrigsmuseum Stevnsfort. Calculate about one hour driving.