SPIRITED AWAY – Reveling a Top Secret Installation I was sworn to protect.

In the secret cavern in the Rural Area of Sweden the military could monitor enemy movements in the Baltic Sea. The Ammunition Floor and the huge Bofors cannon was located next door.

This is a translated news article from the Swedish National Post: http://www.svd.se/kultur/bergtagen-son_6059093.svd Translation is done with Google Translate so I do apologize for the rough English.

This is one of the previously top-secret installations I was tasked to protect in our unit in the Swedish Navy all those years ago. Hope you enjoy the read!

April 3, 2011 at 01:00

Cold War secret defense installations are becoming part of Swedish cultural history. Soon will open another secret caverns whose huge cannon would save Stockholm on Soviet attack across the sea. SvD step down in a closed world.

Helmet on!

The adventure starts with a warning. Last time, staff walked down the hill hit Fortifikationsverket CIO head of the secret Bofors cannon. It is therefore important to look up when a hitherto privileged Swedish military facility now scheduled to open for visits. We are in Rural Area, there Icebreaker Atlas has closed its way through the ice to drop us. At the tip of the archipelago, south of Nynashamn, Rural Area is known as summer paradise for swimmers, but this is also the sea eagle and adder eternal kingdom where the guns were directed against the East throughout the 1900s. Here was a Cold War strategic locations in Sweden secret caverns would be used to stop the feared attack from the Soviet Union.

Now we have helmets on.

“We know that the Russian ship was and gazed out to sea, pointing Captain Thomas Bork, who will be our cicerone in the underworld.

A small tractor tracks have taken us away from the sandy road leading Landsorts, straight into the lovemaking. The track has led to the cliffs to the east where the enemy war ships would pass in an attack against the capital of Sweden. Tractor trail makes a jerk, slips down along a rock, and suddenly we find ourselves in the twilight under a camouflage netting, stretched over a mountain gorge. Before us now is just a dark wall, the smell of raw concrete, and the secret door away atomic war.

After the atomic bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki in 1945, most European countries started to question the value of fixed lines of defense, but because of its vulnerable location between East and West Sweden chose to partially go another way. Bofors was in 1968 with the task of developing an alternative to the heavy artillery. The so-called Ersta batteries, namely ‘Compensation Heavy Artillery “, would resist the attacks even in nuclear war.

It is now twenty years after the Soviet collapse, but Ersta battery still has until recently been top secret. SvD becomes the first newspaper to move into this James Bond-plant with a total of four floors blasted in the rock. Here 25 soldiers would stay and fight to combat warships and bombers, even if nuclear, biological or chemical warfare used against them.

Outwardly anas just the ordinary steel door in the rock wall, but just inside leads a basement once on through one thick vault door after another. Over-meter-wide thresholds, we crouched in the self-sufficient world where the soldiers’ barracks still standing paved the way for war.

-Even today, we want to reveal anything that was relevant during the Cold War. We do not provide the entire record of how we acted, “said Capt. Bork.

You may say that a total of eighteen just like these rock shelters and related canon of enormous dimensions was built until 1983 at six strategic locations along Sweden’s Baltic coast – Söderarm, Slite, Ystad, Trelleborg, Holmögadd and just provincial. After the defense in 2000 have all these world-leading facilities dismantled, but “third play” on the Rural Area. The idea is that this particular longest kept secret will be made public as a national monument – to be tomorrow’s story about “the Swedish people’s defense efforts during the Cold War nuclear threats,” according to the National Heritage Board. This makes one of the nation’s youngest military installations “avhemligad”, and already this summer should the public be able to come here. National Property Board is taking over in June, and has already held talks with the Islanders in Rural Area to guide.

After the vault doors, we are several meters inside the mountain and sees signs of interior design. The chilly bare gasslussen is a kind of relationship, with gruesome enough radiakduscharna still stands ready. It was here that the soldiers would wash the radioactive material before they took the next step in their autonomous world.

Past gasslussen are “indoor”, that is, inside a huge concrete shell in the rock. Here the soldiers were hanging off their pistols and feel relatively safe, away from radiation and poison gas. On the ground floor there is also the major ammunition floor with room for up to 1000 shells. From there it reached the 150-ton Bofors cannon, which, like a kind of lighthouse stands 18 feet straight up the mountain. Those who do not have claustrophobia climbs up to the gun barrel in which a couple of soldiers sat in a small space, protected by a 16-ton dome, to control the firing. In a furious pace – every two seconds – were the giant war machine spit out the 22 kg heavy projectiles out of the mountain, against sea targets as far as three mil out to sea. A small selection testify that one last upgrade was in 1990, when the Iron Curtain through Europe wavered and the Berlin Wall had just fallen.

The secret concrete house continues deeper into the rock. A spiral staircase, similar to an American fire station, connects the three floors in which most resembles a combination of windowless workshop, offices and housing. Cozy factor is of course zero. Here was one of simple office chairs of steel frame in the cold light of fluorescent lamps and read the instruments of reconnaissance information from the master meter in the air and at sea. That nothing is older than 35 years, and that a major war so recently was Swedish realpolitik, feels fateful for a middle-aged Swedish. In fact, some of them who built these plants also began dismantling.

Brown drab vinyl flooring, moss green walls and orange steel doors bear witness to the late 1970s. In the kitchen for the soldiers on the dinnerware of Hammarplast at tables with Perstorp plate.

“It was fläskaladåb and other yummy canned food. Matron of course, was not the best, because the kitchen is located across from the Air Force eldledningscentral, pointing Thomas Bork.

In the machine rooms include how the present was an orgy of “Made in Sweden”. The domestic was the best time was melody, and it was particularly the case in defense. From walls full of instruments, knobs and tubes hails only company names Atlas Copco, Asea and Swedish manometerfabriken.

-The defense held again in Swedish industry, “said Bork, with a sudden tone of melancholy.

The very idea of ​​a battery that is in the Rural Area were to resist the attacker’s tactical nuclear weapons to gain time and cause the enemy so much loss and inconvenience to an attack against Sweden in advance would be uninteresting. In up to one month would be able to stay soldiers encapsulated in the rock. Even under full nuclear war was anticipated that Bofors cannon could answer seizures for one to three days.

Really, it must SvD’s photographer Lars Pehrson not shoot, for some secrets should only be removed by the northern specialty staff has prepared avhemligandet for months. We meet at Lenny Kotavuopio who admits that he has been in the quiet mountains for so long that he has begun to hear voices, and his colleague Bridget Waara who likes to be unreachable.

-Down here we can not interfere, “she says.

At the bottom of the large blast hole’s bottom rests the entire four storey blocks of rubber to withstand tremors from bombs. Down there in the “basement” is still heard a muffled roar from fans and drainage pumps. Here are the thoughts of drinking water taken directly from the bedrock, and diesel that ran its own power plant.

We go up the spiral staircase again. Once we pass radiakduscharna where Electrocleans large coffin with cleaning equipment in case of nuclear war, thankfully never opened in earnest.

Ocean noise and dripping water from the camouflage net. We’re out again, and the discreet door in the rock strikes again with a thud.

Of the world’s leading Bofors cannon, model 12/70, visible only gun barrel sticking out the top of Landsorts shiny black rocks. Until the new writing course, was also camouflaged gun barrel. Covered by a large, white fiber glass, it looked like any of the archipelago all the hillocks.

-It used to be directed towards the east, but now we have focused on the Trosa in the south so that it should be visible in a sleek profile when the tourists come walking. The risk of war is probably always remain, but the threat is no longer an enemy power, flying up with a huge armada at sea, “said Thomas Bork.

For the public was told little about the Cold War installations. Bathers could only guess why foreigners who happened to visit the Rural Area without a permit was chased away by an attendant, but for the year-round residents went facilities never hide.

“This was a huge construction projects throughout most of the 1970s. It was blown course 20 cubic meter hole straight down into the rock in several places on the island. Secure 100 construction workers had their own barracks town, ferry and own their own concrete plant. They also preferred a six-meter wide temporary road across the island. Even today, they had secret Ersta batteries has been a huge thing for a country like Sweden, remember masterful pilot Bjorn Oberg that we are looking up inside the Landsort village.

Björn Öberg never heard talk of something obvious espionage. Instead it has become one of the most remarkable events in the Rural Area to neutral Sweden welcomed Caspar Weinberger, U.S. Secretary of Defense 1981-1987, to make visits.

-Yes, he did get to see everything out here. It must have been in the hunting of birds, for the security people came a long way in advance to warn us islanders to carry hunting rifles, because then we would be arrested, remember Bjorn Oberg.

Zeitgeist was such that almost all Swedes felt the duty to keep silent about defense secrets. Of course, I remember how my father once again reassured us in the family about the constant threat of war between East and West. He had come back from a pleasure voyage to precisely Rural Area, where he exceptionally friends had seen something “art in the mountain” that we teenagers tried to question a lot about. “I can not tell. The only thing I wanted to say, is that Sweden has thought of everything. We can cope. We need not be worried “.

The top secret Ersta battery was only in use for 23 years, from 1977 to 2000. Today, the National Heritage Board to the Government that it should be preserved because it can be seen as the end point of Sweden’s solid defense.

Other military historical attractions

A minimum production east of Gotland was run until recently, and are therefore highly topical. A lot of local interest is namely to make the scenic and strategic Enholm outside Gotland Slite to a military historical attractions to the public. The whole island is already a national monument by a number of older historic forts, including the time of the Crimean War (pictured). Unless the National Property Board takes over, the government can sell the island, including the recently avhemligade smallest concentration.

Hemsö Fortress
Coastal Defence largest plant was Hemsö fortress in Ångermanland, 1957-87. It was held near 500 men behind the thick, protective nuclear armored doors. From stridsledningsrum filled with advanced technologies ruled the camouflaged gun turrets on the 140 meter high crude Mountain where the view is free of sea, islands and coastline. The soldiers could do three months of isolation in the mountain. Nowadays Hemsö national heritage site and famous attractions.

Arholma North
A short forest walk from Noisy environment Arholma began in 1961 to blow up a large fortress with seating for 100 people in the rock near one of the major shipping routes to Stockholm. After the closure in the late 90s, became North Arholma national monument, and opened for visits. It is operated today as a youth hostel, with accommodation in the old military barracks on the surface.

Boden Fortress
Swedish lock in north Construction started at the turn of the century to have a deterrent effect on Russia and later Soviet. During World War II could Boden Fortress accommodate up to 15,000 soldiers. Parts of the plant was modernized ago to resist nuclear weapons. Today, the National Property Board has taken over, and Rödberg Fort which was in use until 1998, Boden has become big tourist attraction.

Sweden’s highest level of protection
Sweden’s six Ersta batteries were built along the Baltic coast from 1973 to 1984. They had the highest level of protection that Sweden had been developed, with protection against chemical and biological weapons and nuclear weapons. They could stand to be hit by a minbomb at half a ton. The batteries would fight an invasion of Sweden across the Baltic Sea.

Tips on Reading
Swedish castles and fortifications (Medströms publishers, 2007) is the latest hefty guide to the country’s military history sites. The most modern of the cold war facilities was still secret when the book was written. Now considering the lead author Leif Törnquist an updated edition.

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