La Coupole, located 5 km from Saint-Omer (Nord-Pas-de-Calais), is among the most impressive remnants of the Second World War in Europe. Due to its overwhelming mass, the nature of its underground facilities and the suffering of the slave labourers who built it, this is a place symbolic of Nazi oppression.
This huge bunker, built by the Todt Organisation in 1943-1944 was to be the base for launching the V2 rockets against London. Developed in the ultra-secret Peenemünde centre by Von Braun's team, these missiles, along with the American atomic bomb, were the most innovative devices developed during World War II. The V2s were mass-produced in the "Mittelwerk" underground factory, located at the heart of Germany, by deportees from the Dora concentration camp.
Heavily bombed by the Allies, La Coupole was abandoned during the summer of 1944, after the Normandy landings. The V2s, which struck London and Antwerp in September 1944, were launched by mobile units established in Holland.
Since 1997, this site, which has been turned into a History and Memory Centre, a world war ii museum, has welcomed more than 1.7 million visitors.