On June 6th 1940, Hitler and his general staff observed the advance of the German forces through France during operation “Fall Rot” from this FHQ in Brûly-De-Pesche, initially called “Waldwiese”, but was later called “Wolfschlucht 1”, as Hitler personally preferred this name more.
The invasion of France would be Germany’s next daring step towards the invasion of Europe, following the succesfull “Fall Gelb” operation started on 10 May 1940. Hitler and his general staff stayed at Wolfsschlucht 1 during the official radio announcement of the armistice by the French government on June 25th 1940. After the French surrender is evident Hitler leaves Brûly-De-Pesche on the 28th of June at 08:00 in the morning. He will never set foot here again.
There are many pictures made by Heinrich Hoffman from Hitler’s time here, in which we can see him talking to Göring, Von Brauchitsch, Keitel, Jodl, Engel and Reader.
The village school served as their High Command headquarters, with a map room or “Kartenraum” where they followed and coördinated each step of the invasion. Some sources say the church was used as Hitlers personal cinema. It is also said that the conditions for the armistice of France were drawn up in Brûly-De-Pesche before being signed in Compiègne.
A park was constructed around the bunker, designed by a German landscape architect, containing a large round square with a foot high wall resembeling the form of an omega (supposedly a place where Hitler could address a large group of people) and a pond which seems to resemble the form of the Virgin constellation with the spring at it’s head.
Construction of Wolfsschlucht 1
The Führer bunker and additional barracks were built by Organisation Todt starting from May 1940, right after the surrender of the Belgian Armed forces on May 28th. The local people in the village and the surrounding area were forced to evacuate and the Wehrmacht confiscated the buildings.
Some of the work wasn’t even finished when Hitler took his residence here in June, which can be witnessed by the workers that appear in some of the photographs of his arrival in Brûly-de-Pesche. The Führer bunker is a concrete cube with sides measuring 7 metres and weighing about 600 tons. Situated between his personal barracks and the officers mess, it was designed to withstand an aerial bombardment. The armoured steel doors are made out of two seperate panels, so that if debris would for instance block the bottom half of the door, they could still escape using the top panel. Most interesting is the camouflage coating used on the bunker concrete. It is a mixture of glue and straw or grass, which is a supurb base for moss or weeds to grow on and create a perfect natural camouflage.
After Hitler left Brûly-De-Pesche, the two barracks (or chalets) were disassembled and taken away by the German army. They were replaced with replica’s in 1993 and now serve as exhibition space.
There was also a small wooden shelter dug into the forest floor. It provided space for about 30 people. This is also a replica built in 1993.
Visit Wolfsschlucht 1 in Brûly-De-Pesche
This is certainly not a full day trip. At first glance this Fuhrer Headquarters looks a bit small and, well.. boring. It doesn’t seem to match the grandeur of all the other FHQ’s, not suited for Hitlers’ demands at all. No exceptionally large structures or insanely planned defence lines and bunkers. I can imagine the disappointment for visitors expecting a rough first version of the Wolfsschanze or Wolfsschlucht 2. It’s just all too.. subtle?
In my opinion, that’s just the interesting thing about this FHQ location. It’s all very well picked and planned. Like the ones who picked this location, you have to look with the same eye for detail. The quiet village with room enough to house the general staff. No other village in the near area. The bunker and the barracks, very well hidden under the trees of the forest starting from the village square. Not even a reconaissance plane would spot them. Grassland serving as a landing strip for a small plane like a Fieseler Storck. Who would have suspected the Fuhrer here, observing the invasion of France, his moment of glory.
And then there is the fact that this location has hardly changed since it was the High Command Headquarters. Although the buildings are inhabited again by their rightfull owners, almost all the buildings you see when looking around from the village square, are the same you can see on the dozens of pictures you can find of Hitlers stay at Brûly-De-Pesche. In the park next to the small bunker, the footage containing Hitlers little victory ‘dance’ was shot right here on this site.
Take a walk around the area and you will find lots of influences and signs pointing to this short period.