The Wolf’s lair – Wolfsschanze- Hitler’s Headquarters, Gierloz Poland


Posted: , Last update: August 31 2021, in Historic Sites & Battlefields, Third Reich Sites & Architecture. 1 Comment

History

On 27-28 of August 1940 Reich Minister for Armaments and Ammunition and leader of Organisation Todt, Fritz Todt, together with Major Gerhard Engel and Colonel Rudolf Schmundt, the latter two both adjutants to Adolf Hitler, decided to build a new headquarters close to the Russian border after their reconnaissance of the Gierłoż forest. The Forest provided good natural protection and camouflage for the buildings and roads and it was close to the city of Rastenburg (Kętrzyn today) and its airfield.
Construction started the same year and would continue unto 1941.

Layout of the Wolf's Lair

Layout of the Wolf’s Lair – the numbers of the photo’s below match the numbers on the buildings on this map

The Wolf’s Lair

The Wolfsschanze / Wolf’s Lair was named after the self-given nickname of Adolf Hitler, Wolf. A Schanze is a temporary independent fortified fieldwork. On 21 June 1941 main constructions were finished and more than 2000 people worked at this head quater. About 200 buildings were constructed and with the defensive perimeters the Wolfsschanze area was about 6,5 square kilometers large.

Defensive perimeters - Wolfsschanze

Defensive perimeters – Wolfsschanze

The perimeter was divided into three rings of defence. Sperrkreis 1 was the name of the inner ring, this was the heart of the Wolf’s Lair (Strefa in Polish on the image above). It was sealed of with a steel fence and guarded by special SS troops. Hitler had his camouflaged bunker in this zone together with his henchmen like Martin Bormann, Wilhelm Keitel, Alfred Jodl and Herman Göring. Sperrkreis 2 housed ministers like Albert Speer – who replaced Fritz Todt after his death, Joachim von Ribbentrop, Fritz Todt and others. The barracks of the Reichssicherheitsdienst were in this perimeter with special units for the protection of this area.

No. 2 Mess Hall for the Security Service - Wolf's Lair

No. 2 Mess Hall for the Security Service – Wolf’s Lair

No. 1 Accomodation for Hitlers personal Bodyguard - Wolfs Lair

No. 1 Accomodation for Hitler’s personal Bodyguard – Wolf’s Lair

No. 8 Residence of Chief of Criminal Police and Post Office - Wolf's Lair

No. 8 Residence of Chief of Criminal Police and Post Office – Wolf’s Lair

No. 21 Communication Bunker - Wolf's lair

No. 21 Communication Bunker – Wolf’s lair

No. 20 General Rudolf Schmundt residence - Wolf's lair

No. 20 General Rudolf Schmundt residence – Wolf’s lair

The last Sperrkreis, number 3, was the heavily fortified outer perimeter guarded by the Führerbegleitbrigade. This Führer escort brigade was a special Wehrmacht unit armed with anti aircraft weapons, panzers and other heavy equipment. The outer ring was shielded off with pillboxes, barb wired fences, MG nests and all types of landmines – more than 54000 of them.
75km outside the Wolf’s Lair extra troops were stationed with radar for early warning of enemy troops and aircrafts. An approaching aircraft would be spotted 100km before it ever reached the Wolfsschanze.

No. 6 Visitor Bunker - Wolf's Lair

No. 6 Visitor Bunker – Wolf’s Lair

No. 6 Visitor Bunker - Wolf's Lair

No. 6 Visitor Bunker – Wolf’s Lair

No. 6 Damaged inside - Visitor bunker - Wolfs Lair

No. 6 Damaged inside – Visitor bunker – Wolfs Lair

No. 6 Inside the Visitor Bunker - Wolf's Lair

No. 6 Inside the Visitor Bunker – Wolf’s Lair

Adolf Hilter and Fritz Todt at the Wolfsschanze

In 1941 on June the 23rd the site was visited by Adolf Hitler for the first time, the day after the invasion of Russia, Operation Barbarossa, commenced. Hitler would spent more than 800 days at the Wolfsschanze during the war. Nearby another major site was built close to the town of Marmerki in the Mauerwald. The OKH – Oberkommando des Heeres, the German High Command was constructed only 18km from the Wolf’s Lair. All Major Generals were housed there to direct the war on Russia.

No. 13 View on the Adolf Hitler bunker - Wolf's Lair

No. 13 View on the Adolf Hitler bunker – Wolf’s Lair

No. 13 The Adolf Hitler Bunker - Wolf's Lair

No. 13 The Adolf Hitler Bunker – Wolf’s Lair

No. 13 Damaged Fuhrerbunker- Wolf's Lair

No. 13 Damaged Fuhrerbunker- Wolf’s Lair

No. 13 Inside Hitler's Bunker - Wolf's Lair

No. 13 Inside Hitler’s Bunker – Wolf’s Lair

No. 13 A view on the inside of the Hitler Bunker - Wolfsschanze.

No. 13 A view on the inside of the Hitler Bunker – Wolfsschanze.

No. 13 Inside the Adolf Hitler Bunker - Wolf's Lair

No. 13 Inside the Adolf Hitler Bunker – Wolf’s Lair

The railway was extended and the roads towards the Wolfsschanze secured. The Airfield near Rastenburg got an upgrade for bigger aircraft like the JU52 – Iron Anie and the He111 bomber. Fritz Todt lost his live on 8 February 1942 on this airfield when the plane they used crashed just after take off. Fritz Todt was buried on the Invalidenfriedhof  – the invalids cemetery in Berlin.

No. 10 Martin Bormanns Bunker - Wolf's Lair

No. 10 Martin Bormanns Bunker – Wolf’s Lair

No. 10 Inside the Martin Bormanns Bunker- Wolf's Lair

No. 10 Inside the Martin Bormanns Bunker- Wolf’s Lair

Unternehmen Walküre  – Operation Valkyrie

At the Wolfsschanze are the remains of the building where the assassination attempt of Adolf Hitler was planned. Colonel Claus Schenk Graf von Stauffenberg took the key role upon himself to place a bomb under a table near Hitler during a briefing in the Wolf’s Lair. After the bomb was placed he left the Wolf’s Lair and flew back to Berlin from the Rastenburg airfield.

No. 3 Memorial Assasination attempt Adolf Hitler - Wolf's Lair.JPG

No. 3 Memorial Assasination attempt Adolf Hitler – Wolf’s Lair.JPG

No. 3 Remains of Briefing room - Operation Valkyrie - Wolfs Lair

No. 3 Remains of Briefing room – Operation Valkyrie – Wolfs Lair

Unfortunately Hitler survived the explosion and Claus von Stauffenberg and other plot leaders and suspects were sentenced to death for committing high treason. About 7000 suspects were arrested and close to 5000 were executed. Three field marshals, 19 generals, 26 colonels, one minister, two ambassadors, seven diplomats and the head of the Berlin police were executed. Field Marhal Erwin Rommel did not survive this trial for he was thought to have known about the attempt to stop Hitler’s Nazi regime and save Germany from total defeat due to Hilter’s bad decisions and lack of military insights.

No. 15 Hermann Göring's House- Wolf's Lair

No. 15 Hermann Göring’s House- Wolf’s Lair

No. 15 Inside Hermann Göring's House - Wolf's Lair

No. 15 Inside Hermann Göring’s House – Wolf’s Lair

The Wolf’s Lair in Russian Hands

New construction work started mid- 1944 to reinforce the buildings at the Wolf’s Lair which was never completed for in October 1944, the Red army forces reached the Prussian borders in the east. Adolf Hitler and his staff left the Wolf’s Lair for the last time on 20 November 1944. They moved their headquarters back to Zossen-Wunsdorf, south of Berlin in Germany.

No. 16 Hermann Göring Bunker- Wolfs Lair

No. 16 Hermann Göring Bunker- Wolfs Lair

No. 16 Damage on the Hermann Göring Bunker- Wolf's Lair

No. 16 Damage on the Hermann Göring Bunker- Wolf’s Lair

No. 16 A Bunker inside a bunker - Collapsed Roof -The Hermann Göring Bunker- Wolf's Lair

No. 16 A Bunker inside a bunker – Collapsed Roof -The Hermann Göring Bunker- Wolf’s Lair

No. 16 A Bunker inside a bunker - Wall - Hermann Göring Bunker- Wolf's Lair

No. 16 A Bunker inside a bunker – Wall – Hermann Göring Bunker- Wolf’s Lair

No. 16 A Bunker inside a bunker - Double Wall - Hermann Göring''s Bunker- Wolf's Lair

No. 16 A Bunker inside a bunker – Double Wall – Hermann Göring”s Bunker- Wolf’s Lair

No. 16 Inside Hermann Göring's Bunker- Wolf's Lair

No. 16 Inside Hermann Göring’s Bunker- Wolf’s Lair

No. 16 Toward the roof of the Hermann Göring Bunker- Wolf's Lair

No. 16 Toward the roof of the Hermann Göring Bunker- Wolf’s Lair

Fied Marshal Wilhelm Keitel gave the order the demolish the buildings on January the 25th 1945. The Germans used 8 to 12 tons of explosives for the destruction of a single bunker, the explosions rocketed tons of concrete 20 to 30 meters in the air and cracked the ice on the frozen lakes nearby. 27 January 1945, only 48 hours after the order for demolition was commanded, and on the same day that concentration camp Auschwitz was liberated, the Wolf’s Lair was taken by the Russian army without a shot fired. The removal of the 54000 landmines lasted until 1955 before the area of the Wolfsschanze was safe to visit.

No. 19 Field Marshall Wilhelm Keitel Bunker - Wolf's lair

No. 19 Field Marshall Wilhelm Keitel Bunker – Wolf’s lair

No. 19 Inside Field Marshall Wilhelm Keitel Bunker - Wolf's lair

No. 19 Inside Field Marshall Wilhelm Keitel Bunker – Wolf’s lair

No. 17 The Barack of Alfred Jodl - Wolf's lair

No. 17 The Barack of Alfred Jodl – Wolf’s lair

No. 18 Inside The Second Mess Hall - Wolf's lair

No. 18 Inside The Second Mess Hall – Wolf’s lair

No. 18 The Second Mess Hall - Wolf's lair

No. 18 The Second Mess Hall – Wolf’s lair

Reuse of materials

No. 28 Albert Speer Bunker - Wolf's lair

No. 28 Albert Speer Bunker – Wolf’s lair

No. 28 Albert Speer Bunker - Wolf's lair

No. 28 Albert Speer Bunker – Wolf’s lair

No. 28 Damage on the Albert Speer Residence - Wo'lfs lair

No. 28 Damage on the inside of Albert Speer’s Residence – Wolf’s lair

No. 28 Damage on the roof - the Albert Speer Bunker - Wolf's lair

No. 28 Damaged roof – the Albert Speer Bunker – Wolf’s lair

No. 28 Damage inside the Albert Speer Bunker - Wolf's lair

No. 28 Inside the Albert Speer Bunker – Wolf’s lair

Recycling the Wolf’s Lair

Yes, even back then recycling was a hot item. The cobblestone roads were re-used in the Polish capital Warsaw. You can find the cobblestones on the Emilii Plater Street and near the Palace of Culture and Science.
The wooden barracks, which survived the destruction order, were taken apart and rebuild in Warsaw as well. Building materials like concrete slabs were used at the Warsaw Okecie Airport and the House of the Party the former seat of the Central Committee of PZPR. The building today is used for Stock Exchange.

Cobblestones at the OKH Mauerwald

A cobblestone road at the OKH Mauerwald – identical to the roads the Wolf’s Lair once had.

Cobblestones in front of the Palace of Culture and Science Warszawa Polen - Image from Googl Maps

Cobblestones in front of the Palace of Culture and Science Warszawa Polen – Image from Google Maps

Barracks Wolfsschanze in Warschau - 55 Osiedle Przyjaźń,Warschau, Woiwodschap Mazovië print screen from Google maps

Barracks from the Wolfsschanze in Warschau – 55 Osiedle Przyjaźń,Warschau – Image from Google maps

Visit the Wolfsschanze

The site is a huge outdoor museum and it is open all year, use the Wolf’s Lair’s website for opening times. In the summer months it can be open until 22:00. Bring a flashlight and sturdy shoes. You can wander the perimiter freely or go for a guided tour.





One thought on “The Wolf’s lair – Wolfsschanze- Hitler’s Headquarters, Gierloz Poland

  1. Weer een uitstekend artikel! Nog veel te zien daar, meer restanten dan verwacht. Eindje rijden vanaf Nederland…. 😉

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