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Wolf’s Lair (Part 1)

Poland Day 21. I ventured east of Gdańsk to the site of Hitler’s main HQ during WW2.

I saved the girl at the apartments the bother of hauling my breakfast upstairs as I needed to get to the station early. This one was a four hour journey so I booked ‘first class’ to find it was a compartment wagon and I’d be sharing with two others. Apart from when we trundled through the odd small town, the views were rural, most of the scenery seeming to be ploughed fields getting ready for next round of pastures or crops.

I hopped out at the town of Kętrzyn (the pronounciation vs appearance of the word bamboozled me) in the region formerly known as Eastern Prussia. From here it’s very roughly 30km north to the border of Kaliningrad (Russia), and 150km east to Lithuania.

From here I needed to get to the village of Gierłoż 8km away and after pacing around for a bit, decided that getting a cab was in the way-less-hard basket than trying for a bus.

A short drive later along leafy tree-lined roads and falling leaves we arrived at the facility known as Wolf’s Lair (aka Wolfsschanze in German or Wilczy Szaniec in Polish). Hitler gave himself the nickname Wolf when he found that it was an old German version of Adolf.

Wolf’s Lair was home to about 80 buildings across several kilometres and 2,000 people. Hitler lived here for 2.5 years of WW2.

The hotel and restaurant complex is in the former office and barracks of Hitler's bodyguards

The hotel and restaurant complex is in the former office and barracks of Hitler’s bodyguards

The area is separated into three zones, the first is where Hitler and his entourage was based so is where the prime sightseeing occurs. It is also where the now-hotel is. I checked in for my two night stay in what was the cheapest accommodation of my trip. This gave me a small and extremely basic room but it had a bathroom and wifi (dodgy though it was) which are my main requirements.

When I arrived there were several tour buses in the carpark so safe to say it’s a popular place, many making the day trip from Gdańsk or Warsaw. Hardly anyone else was staying in the hotel though I imagine it’s busier in summer – there’s also a big campground.

Concrete remains are also in the carpark - this was a shelter

Concrete remains in the carpark – this was a shelter

The only thing sheltering in it these days are some of God's tiny creatures

The only thing sheltering in it these days are God’s tiny creatures

They’re set up quite well for tourism and at the other end of the hotel is the restaurant. I went there promptly for some overdue food before setting out to explore.

Zone one is marked out with a trail for which you need the accompanying map. I completed a couple of circuits during my stay, the second time was better as it was early morning when very few others were around.

Sign at the start of the trail with another shelter ruin

Sign at the start of the trail with another shelter ruin

The site is predominantly ruins. This isn’t from Allied bombing raids (one theory being that while they knew the site existed, it was beyond the range of their aircraft) but from when the Germans attempted to destroy the complex during their retreat in 1945.

Command centre and barracks of  the Reich security services, a branch of the SS

Command centre and barracks of the Reich security services, a branch of the SS

Site of the conference building where the attempt on Hitler's life took place in 1944

Site of the conference building where the attempt on Hitler’s life took place in 1944

This was a bunker and air raid shelter for Hitler's guests

This was a bunker and air raid shelter for Hitler’s guests

Secretarial offices

Secretarial offices

Same building

Same building

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This led to an underground food store

This led to an underground food store

BONUS SQUIRREL SIGHTING! If you've been reading my blog for a while, you'll know they're a thing. Two were racing each other around a tree trunk, lightning quick. I found one who stayed still long enough to photograph, quite far away though which was a challenge for the zoom in the low light. But I digress...

BONUS SQUIRREL SIGHTING! If you’ve been reading my blog for a while, you’ll know they’re a thing. Two were racing each other around a tree trunk, lightning quick. I found one who stayed still long enough to photograph, quite far away though which was a challenge for the zoom in the low light. But I digress…

Some sides of the enormous bunkers dotted around the place are still intact and it is incredible to see their size. Concrete ceilings could be up to 8m thick, built to withstand bombing raids should they come.

Hitler's personal secretary's bunker. He had a separate house next door

Hitler’s personal secretary’s bunker. He had a separate house next door

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Saw this a lot - leaning concrete slabs supposedly propped up by masses of branches and sticks!

Saw this a lot – leaning concrete slabs supposedly propped up by masses of branches and sticks!

Trail markings

Trail markings

Later in the day crowds of people mill around this particular building: Hitler's own bunker and air raid shelter

Later in the day crowds of people mill around this particular building: Hitler’s own bunker and air raid shelter

Around the back

Around the back

Water reservoir for firefighting

Water reservoir for firefighting

No trespassing

No trespassing

Office of Hitler's adjutant

Office of Hitler’s adjutant

Residence of Wilhelm Keitel, the Chief of Defence

Residence of Wilhelm Keitel, the Chief of Defence

Inside the bunker of the Head of Air Force, Hermann Göring

Inside the bunker of the Head of Air Force, Hermann Göring

His house next door

His house next door

Inside

Inside

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Inside the residence of one of the high-ups in the Supreme Command of the Armed Forces

Inside the residence of one of the high-ups in the Supreme Command of the Armed Forces

This was a mess and casino

This was a mess and casino

Inside

Inside

Vehicle garage

Vehicle garage

The next day I investigated zones two and three, the less frequently visited parts of Wolf’s Lair but no less interesting.

Distance walked: About 6km

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6 Comments Post a comment
  1. I find those buildings depressing and maddening. Bastards and evil men. They sure went to a heap of trouble to enure they would not be killed. Never saw such thick walls. I suppose Poland makes a heap of money from tourists.

    2 October 2015
    • I’ve gone to a few places on this trip that aren’t your cup of tea haven’t I!

      2 October 2015
      • Haley even though my comments indicate that I deplore the photos, they tell a story of a time now long past and it is the sadness that I feel for those people who were destroyed because of Hitler’s delusional need for control, his wanting a “pure white race and, his maniac response to ridding the world of Jews.

        The photos are what they are and are now a part of history. You are doing a great job of educating me if no one else. I appreciate all of your travel pics and the commentary so, do not take to heart what I write in my comments. 🙂

        2 October 2015
        • I didn’t at all Yvonne so no problem!

          2 October 2015
  2. Awesome! Great photos.

    30 April 2016

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