shown in the above interior plan, a service railway ran through the full
length of the complex, protected by thick armoured doors at each end.
This shot, looking south, shows the path of the railway along only a small portion
of its length and gives some idea of the sheer scale of the structure. To
the left are the main chambers within which U-Boats would have been
docked for service and repair: while to the right is the location of
the supporting services - stores, offices, workshops, etc, housed on
ultra-modern lighting array betrays the fact that these are the pens
currently under development - a massive task as it involves breaking
through walls several feet thick and heavily reinforced with rebar.
The 'Das Boot' connection
the movie 'Das Boot', a young propaganda photographer arrives at a
U-Boat base to join the crew of a boat - whose captain was played by
Jürgen Prochnow - and share with them the trials of a war patrol.
In real life the photographer was called Lothar-Günther Buchheim,
and he arrived here, in St-Nazaire, October 1941, to join U-96, a boat
belonging to the 7th Flotilla (Wegener), whose captain was the
decorated ace Kapitänleutnant Heinrich Lehmann-Willenbrock.
Buchheim later wrote about his experiences in the form of a novel,
which was then turned into this gripping movie.