Traian Street, bunkers and casemates

During the Second World War, the Traian Street, due to its coastal position offered a proper emplacement for defensive bunkers. The area is located at the eastern extremity of Constanta City, and its pronounced elevation and slope allowed the construction of bunkers with dominant position over the harbour. We begin in an atypical way our journey, presenting an objective that is not located on Traian St., but somehow adjacent – the Fantasio flak position. That pair of „shells” that arise from a mound of earth were actually underground access points into the AA battery. This battery took an active role in defending against Soviet air attacks. The building was partially demolished, but there is an underground room used as storage by the Fantasio Theatre. Each Constanta native know this location, but few know its original destination.

I’ve presented the Fantasio flak just to avoid remaining an isolated objective, out of any area of investigation. I will not insist with the presentation of this location, our main objectives are lined on the Traian St. The first bunker is a classic pillbox-shaped square construction, with bevelled horizontal edges, like the pillbox build next to Casino or the one located in proximity of Vadu. This particular bunker is located inside WTC Constanta construction site, so exploring is quite difficult.

Just like other „coast bunkers”, this one is tilted too as it moved along with the cliff. Due to special locations, detailed pictures are hard to come by, but even from a „safety distance” we can distinguish the periscope (which seems to be in relatively good condition) and the external parts of the ventilation systems. All the ordinary scenery – flanges, door frames, mounting rings, certainly are in this pillbox. If there is anything else there we can only say by exploring the bunker. I hope that during the next year I’ll manage to get approval to conduct a thorough analysis of the bunker. If will prove to be in good state of preservation, this pillbox could be a corner stone in helping our work of identification and presentation of these WW2 constructions.

We continue our itinerary on the Traian St. and here we are facing a very strange construction – a small room blackened by smoke, „implanted” in the cliff. The construction looks much like a cave than a WW2 bunker, but thick concrete walls reveal the real nature of the bunker.

The size of the construction is pretty modest and there is a single room, totally blackened by smoke. Just like every cm of concrete there. Temporary shelter for bums, behind their stay remains a wave of garbage. Little gallery at the entrance is blocked with earth and gravel after 3 meters. What was the „destination” of the gallery? To extend beyond the axis of the road or even link with another underground bunker system? Anyway, back then it should have been leading somewhere. And what’s the purpose of this „concrete shack”? Ammunition deposit, annex building (radio, medical)? Until (if) we find answers, we have a certainty – this it is a „bio” bunker. A scorched tree grew grotesquely from the roof.

The role of this construction eludes me so far. All its mystery lies beyond the pile of dirt that block the gallery. For the moment – only a prosaic, concrete box, lacking even that dose of lugubrious, characteristic of WW2 bunkers. I guess we better move to the next objective of the expedition. 150 m S-W of shithole presented above there is a full-scale bunker. And is one of impressive size, constructed well below ground level. Its ceiling is currently used as a parking lot.

The bunker is equipped with three fire holes oriented E, N-E and S-E. The construction strike by its shape, reminiscent of German pillboxes that spit lead to the Allies forces, landed on the beaches of Normandy. The extreme massiveness of the walls – the ceiling is more than 2 m thick – tell me I’m dealing with a complex bunker site. Once on the roof, it’s easy to get the reasons why they’ve chosen this location – its a dominant position over the coastal region.

Various concrete protrusions reveals the former locations of the periscope and the external outputs of the ventilation and heating systems. We go down to investigate an area where, 70 years ago, nobody would have wanted to be – the machine-guns fire apertures! These are pretty unique on Romanian seaside – the apertures are extremely narrow. Basically, the GMs that fired through these openings were move vertically, elevation zero! The guns could have been handled only horizontally, which lead me to believe that the main function of the bunker was to protect a linear surface of the road.

Well, it’s the first time I’m not able to take pictures inside a sealed bunker by taking pictures via the machine-gun firing openings, the embrasure is so deep and so narrow as it’s impossible to handle the camera. The „steps” of the embrasure were designed to avoid enemy bullets bounce towards the machine gun position. At the base of this „ziggurat” we observe the firing opening slot, as big as 15 x 5 cm.

The entry is located near the roadway, at the N-W, approx. 4 m below ground level. Is time to descend into the depths. A pungent smell of burning „say welcome” ever before descending begun. The bunker has passed through many fires, paradoxically, not due to fierce fighting during the war, but due to homeless bums who have found shelter here. Note the supports embedded in the wall, which in „Die Glückliche Zeit (The Good Times)” held power cables. The always present pieces of pipes arise from the thick wall above the entrance, these used to protect the cables.

Everything is blackened by smoke, the ceiling above the entrance (of „only” 3 m thick) is dripping condensation. Let’s continue inwards. I’m welcomed… by the bath tub reported by those who sneaked an eye into the bunker previously. They also said that the bunker is filled with rubbish and totally inaccessible – false! We are into „uncharted territory”, as in many other occasions. On the right side (S-W) there is a room with lots of flanges and brackets. Ceiling, yes – „that ceiling”, the metallic cover that was specific to German WW2 military fortifications. Recently, this room had the role of bedroom for a few bums who that tried to reinstate the bunker! Not by fitting the MG’s, but by reactivating the ventilation ducts – one of the flanges has a modern type, corrugated pipe, meaning that at some point they’ve installed a stove on place.

On the left (N-E) there is a corridor that connects to a couple of rooms and the MG’s chambers. Multiple heavy doors use to seal the chambers. The existence of air-tight doors (now only the frames are there), in the middle of the corridor suggest that space could have been a gas decontaminations chamber. Unfortunately, this time I could not go further into your the bunker. I’m not properly equipped for exploration, I don’t even carry a flashlight. Inside the corridor there is a mountain of waste, PET bottles, glass, even the wreck of a refrigerator. And everything is immersed in absolute darkness, because the entrance is located 4 m below ground level it does not allow the light to get in. Anyway, the bunker is on the top of the „to do” list for 2013. However, these photos that shows, for the first time, part of the interior of the fortification, reveals a terrible truth – the bunker is haunted by the ghosts of former Axis soldiers! The second picture is the proof! Two irradiant eyes – a Nazi kitten challenge me: „Halt!” And, this time I have to obey orders. Promising to return when my time allows, with appropriate equipment … and cat food for the inhabitants 😆

A last glance towards the corridor and another one to the exit from the bunker. The choice impose by itself this time. We’ll meet with this bunker again, for a „thorough check” and a dedicated article. A special kind of a bunker, a large underground construction, with 3 MG firing posts and a standard that seems to be German.

That’s all folks! See you soon… on the WW2 undergrounds.

 [mapsmarker layer=”6″]

Leave a reply