The Wolf's Lair - Hitler's Wartime HQ

more than a year ago

The 1939 Ribbentrop-Molotov Pact saw Poland carved up between Germany and the Soviet Union, yet even this failed to satisfy Hitler’s growing megalomania. His core ideology demanded further expansion eastwards and hence it was in the summer of 1940 construction of an eastern HQ was initiated. The forests of what was then the Eastern Prussian region of Gorlitz (today Polish Gierłoż) were identified as ideal for this end; lakes and swamps surrounded the proposed site, while the nearby Boyen fortress lent added protection from capture. Over the following 12 months Organization Todt sealed the area off and set about constructing what the locals of Rastenburg (today Kętrzyn) thought to be a chemical works. In reality a series of wooden barracks were erected, as well as string of concrete bunkers up to three metres in thickness. Camouflage netting of Bakelite leaves were hung over forest clearings to confuse aerial reconnaissance and the area was heavily fortified with mines and fences. Finally, with Operation Barbarossa two days away, Hitler arrived abroad his private train on June 24, 1941.

The planned blitzkrieg against the Russians stalled at the gates of Moscow, and when it became apparent the Soviet Union would not crumble so easily the decision was taken to fortify the Wolf’s Lair further. Existing wooden barracks were encased in concrete half a metre in thickness, and more structures sprung up around them. Yet even this was deemed ineffectual, and on Hitler’s orders a final phase of construction was undertaken between February and October of 1944 – this saw bunkers built on top of bunkers, as well as the addition of a thirteen metre tall bunker for Hermann Goring.


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