Idea #728 – Exploring Hitler’s headquarters at Wolfsschanze in Poland
Adolf Hitler’s main headquarters during WWII, the Wolfsschanze or “Wolf’s Den” was located in the woods near Gierłoż, not far from Kętrzyn, Poland. It consisted of a collection of blockhouses and log houses with grass roofs located in a thick forest, all protected by several concentric circles of tusks, barbed wire, and minefields.
The headquarters were built in 1941 by the Todt Organization, in anticipation of the launch of Operation Barbarossa. Adolf Hitler went there for the first time the day after the start of this invasion operation which targeted the Soviet Union. He spent nearly eight hundred days there during the Second World War, or 60% of his time. He left it definitively on November 20, 1944. Nearly 2000 people worked there during the war years.
On July 20, 1944, Adolf Hitler was the target of an attack at the Wolfsschanze, perpetrated by Colonel Claus von Stauffenberg, in a conference room located at the entrance of the complex. Three senior officers, close collaborators of Hiteler, are killed, but the Fuhrer is only slightly wounded.
The complex was abandoned and dynamited by the Germans on January 25, 1945 during the retreat of the Wehrmacht in the face of the Soviet advance. They use nearly 30,000 tonnes of TNT. The Red Army took possession of it two days later. The site was not fully cleared until 1955, after the removal of almost 40,000 mines or explosive devices.
The site is divided into several areas. The most important, Sperrkreis 1 (“security zone 1”), in which there were ten bunkers, including the Führer’s bunker and those intended for members of his inner circle, including Göring, Bormann, the head of the OKW, Keitel, and OKW Chief Operating Officer Jodl. The bunkers were all camouflaged and protected by a two to seven meter slab of reinforced concrete.
Sperrkreis 2 included military barracks and accommodation for several important Reich ministers and for the Führer-Begleit-Division, Hitler’s protection battalion. Sperrkreis 3 provided external security for the complex, with buildings for guards and special security troops, all protected by minefields. Nearby were facilities for Wehrmacht operational teams. All these installations were served by an aerodrome and pre-existing railways which had presided over the choice of the site.
The building is now open to visitors, following a secure route, in the middle of the rubble of the dynamited shelters. A commemorative monument, dedicated to the members of the conspiracy against Hitler, was erected on the site of the former meeting room, the scene of the attack. For the more adventurous, who cannot read the signs, it is possible to enter the bunkers, at your own risk!
Where is it ?
Wolfsschanze, Kętrzyn, Poland