What if Denmark came under attack: Nobody has a handle on the state of the nation’s bunkers

It is the responsibility of the municipalities, and they only answer to the Defence Ministry

Beredskabsstyrelsen, the emergency preparedness agency, recently called for a new overview of the number of bunkers in each of Denmark’s 98 municipalities in light of the War in Ukraine.

In the meantime, DR has carried out its own survey, obtaining answers from approximately three-quarters of the municipalities.

Some, it emerged, have enough places for all their residents, while others have extremely limited space.

Mostly in the hands of the municipalities
The possibility of a war between Russia and NATO remains remote, but that has not stopped Beredskabsstyrelsen from pressing the country’s municipalities for an update on the number of spaces they have in their bunkers. The last official report was carried out two decades ago.

However, while the municipalities are obliged to ensure the safety of their residents, they are not obliged to answer Beredskabsstyrelsen.

After all, securing enough places to ensure the safety of all their residents has hardly been a priority following the end of the Cold War in the early 1990s. The municipality organisation KL will decide whether an inventory is carried out, not Beredskabsstyrelsen. 

Jakob Bisgaard, an official at Aalborg Municipality, perhaps summed up the situation best when he told DR: “We are in a place no-one imagined. Instead of building shelters, we have spent the money on welfare.”

Mostly in decay
Most of the bunkers are used for other purposes. For example, DR found examples of music bands using them for rehearsals. And it is believed some are full of mould and even underwater.

Up until 2003, the municipalities were legally obliged to make sure the rooms could be used with 24 hours notice. 

Now, the only authority that can directly order the municipalities to check the bunkers is the Ministry of Defence. 

Some have enough, others not nearly enough
According to DR, Dragør Municipality on the Copenhagen island of Amager has one place for every 29 of its residents. In Aalborg, the ratio is one for every six. 

While in the likes of Hvidovre and Albertslund, both in the Capital Region, there’s a place for every resident.

Some municipalities have simply not surveyed their bunker situation. 

In the unlikely event …
Again, it is underlined the possibility of air-raid sirens ringing out across Denmark, as enemy bombers close in, is extremely unlikely. 

“The emergency services are not geared to war on Danish soil,” concluded Danske Beredskaber chair Jarl Vagn Hansen.

“And we are not, because it has not been a scenario that one should look into for many years.”

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