Only 18 km from the Wolf’s Lair lies das Oberkommandos des Heeres im Mauerwald or in short OKH Mauerwald. It was the German army headquarters, named after the lake nearby, the Mauersee. Construction started just after the construction Wolf’s Lair commenced and both sites developed simultaneously. As coverup for the highly secret Wehrmacht base, fake news suggesting the Chemical company Askania should have a toxic project in the Mauerwald was spread to keep nosy folk away and it gave a logical explanation to seal off the roads. But in truth it was Organisation Todt who worked in this forest and constructed the high command base using a workforce that had gained experience at the Masurian Canal nearby.
With over 250 buildings and 30 bunkers it was a vast place, even larger than the Wolfsschanze. The site was, like the Wolfsschanze, divided into three districts. The first was named Quelle for administrative and logistic departments. Fritz was for the General staff and Brigitten was the communication and telecom section.
The OKH Mauerwald was a village on its own with its own power supply, heating systems, telecom facilities, a Casino and post office, a cinema, hospital, stables and so on. It was protected by a mechanised guard with panzers and anti-aircraft guns. The bunkers were masked by seagrass mixed with concrete to roughen up the walls, combined with paint and natural mosses and plant growth it looked much more natural. On top of the bunker they added a layer of soil with plants and seagrass and combined with the camouflaged wall it helped to avoid areal detection.
Upgrading the bunkers
The roofs of the bunkers were built with a thickness of 2 meters in 1941 but in 1944, when areal bombardments became a bigger risk they started to improve and extend the buildings with a thickness of 4 to 6 meters. Only a few bunkers were updated before the site had to be abandoned.
Inside the Quelle district were 63 buildings with two heavy bunkers used by General Major Ulrich Liss. Liss was in charge of the Western units of foreign armies and in the second largest bunker further North lived General Eduard Wagner – the general quartermaster of OKH.
Without knowledge and approval of Hitler, General Ulrich Liss was creating a plan to use the Soviet prisoners of war and Soviet volunteers in the Wehrmacht ranks. There was a meeting about this on the 25th June in 1942.
Hitler was a fierce opponent of these plans but in 1944, due to persistent Himmler, he agreed to use the Soviets in the German Army. They were known as “ROA”. Written as РОА but pronounced ROA in Russian.
Field Marshal Walther von Brauchitsch lived in the Fritz zone, until he lost his job due to the defeat of his army in the Battle of Moscow. This was the point in history where Adolf Hitler took over as high commander of the German Army. Panzer General Heinz Guderian, General Franz Halder, General Friedrich Paulus known for the Battle of Stalingrad, Claus Schenk Graf von Stauffenberg from Operation Valkyrie, the assassination attempt on Adolf Hitler. General Bodwin Keitel – brother of Field Marshal Erwin Keitel, Adolf Heusinger and others worked and lived here in the OKH Maurerwald.
The OKH Mauerwald housed 40 generals, 1500 officers and a vast number of soldiers. For travel between Oberkommand Heer Mauerwald and the Wolf’s Lair they used the train most of the time. Adolf Hitler visited the OKH a few times, to celebrate General Halder on his birthday for example, and he stopped here together with Benito Mussolini. Miklós Horthy the dictator from Hungary, Ion Antonescu, the Romanian dictator and Carl Gustaf Mannerheim the Finish Marshal visited the Mauerwald as well. Of course German Generals and ministers stationed elsewhere we guests here like Erwin Rommel and Erich von Manstein.
The base was left on the 20th of January in 1945 when the Russian army advanced onto the Mauerwald. But unlike the Wolfsschanze the buildings were left untouched. The HQ personnel was moved back to the Zossen – Wunsdorf location near Berlin.
The site is free to visit, the bunkers are open and relative clean. There is a museum on the premisses, but we did not visit it.