Beginning in the spring of 1940, in the midst of World War II, Nazi Germany started occupying the northern part of France. They gained complete control of the area in May, when the British evacuated Dunkirk, a coastal city, during the Battle of France. But the Allies always hoped to return. In 1942, the United States and Britain began thinking about an invasion across the English Channel. Hitler, anticipating an invasion somewhere—although he did not know exactly where—put Erwin Rommel in charge of defense of a large swath of coastal areas and in charge of the creation of an Atlantic Wall, which consisted of fortifications of bunkers, landmines, and other beach and water obstacles.
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