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Translated Jeff Matthews

[trans. note: Italian uses this hybrid term from the German Flak (an acronym for Flugabwehrkanone/lit. flight-defence-cannon) and the English tower. The term flak tower, however, also appears in English, as do 'flak' compounds such as flack jacket, etc., but the common recent English term for flak is “triple A”, standing for Anti-Aircraft Artillery.]

This is a tall structure of armored cement used both as a shelter and as an anti-aircraft tower. It was somewhat a mixture of design and function for both political and ideological ends, with a double result: (1) the elevation of large caliber anti-aircraft artillery, which then (2) provided shelter for munitions storage as well as for logistical services, military personnel and civilians.

Flak towers were built in various parts of Europe, among which were Vienna (where they may still be seen) and in some German cities such as Berlin and Hamburg, where all or almost all of them were destroyed after the cessation of hostilities in WWII (Breda M. A., Padovan G., Milano: Rifugi Antiaerei. Scudi degli Inermi contro l’annientamento, Lo Scarabeo, Milano 2012, p. 72).


Padovan Gianluca (ed. ), Archaeology of the Subsoil. Lectures and studies of artificial cavities. British Archaeological Reports, International Series 1416, Oxford 2005.

Basilico Roberto et alii, Italian Cadastre of Artificial Cavities. Part 1. (Including introductory comments and a classification), B.A.R. International Series 1599, Oxford 2007.

Gianluca Padovan (Associazione S.C.A.M. – Federazione Nazionale Cavità Artificiali)

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Foedrowitz M., The Flak Towers

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