Wolf's Lair (Wolfsschlanze)

Wolf's Lair Hitler Headquarters Poland

Wolf's Lair is an abandoned military headquarters for the high command of the Third Reich including Adolf Hitler. It is one of the most famous of Fuhrer headquarters or Fuhrerhauptquartier. It is the site of failed attempt to assassinate Hitler on July 20, 1944.


Location: 5 miles (8 km) from Kętrzyn, Warmian- Masurian Voivodeship  Map


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Description of Wolf's Lair

Wolf's Lair is located near a town of Kętrzyn in Warmian- Masurian Voivodeship (region). It was constructed in several phases. The first started in 1940- 41 then followed in 1942- 43 and final additions were made in winter, spring and early autumn of 1944. The whole complex consisted of concrete structures, wooden huts and barracks. It was impossible to hide the construction project of this magnitude, but in all papers, maps and official documents Wolf's Lair was listed as Chemische Werke Askania or Chemical Plant Askania. Construction was carried out by organization Todt and employed 2- 3 thousands of workers.


The name of Wolf's Lair was inspired by old Norse mythology and neo- Pagan occultism that laid in the heart of National Socialist World view. Adolf Hitler adopted this name in the early 1930's in hopes this nickname will provide spiritual defense against all adversaries. Those close to him often referred to him by this name and many of the bunkers and headquarters had "wolf" in its root.


From its very beginning Wolf's Lair was designed as a personal residence for Adolf Hitler and his closest entourage. He spend 830 days within walls of Wolf's Lair during his disastrous campaign against Soviet Union that started with Operation Barbarossa in June 22, 1941. From here Hitler ordered movement of his troops and whole armies. He spend a last night in Wolf's Lair on November 20, 1944. He was forced to leave it due to approaching Red Army during the Baltic Offensive.


Wolf's Lair is most famous for a failed assassination attempt by a conspiracy of German Nazi officers. Colonel Claus von Stauffenberg planted a bomb on July 20th, 1944. The bomb took off, but it didn't kill Hitler. Instead conspirators were arrested and subsequently executed on the orders of Fuhrer.


Wolf's Lair is an open air museum open to the public. It was the largest of all Hitler's headquarters. In a sense it is a military town of its own. It contains 80 bunkers and other fortified buildings spread in a thick forest. Bunkers were protected by a wall thickness of 6.4 meters at its wall, while the roof thickness was protected by up to 8 meters. In total Wolf's Lair covered a total area of 250 hectares with over 200 buildings. During construction of Wolf's Lair engineers tried to save the trees as much as they could. Dense forest protected the sight of buildings of the military complex. Additionally they planted shrubs and grasses on top of buildings to conceal their shape and layout (see the picture below).


Visiting Wolf's Lair

Keep in mind that Wolf's Lair is fairly large. It can be smart to take the picture of the map that is located at the entrance to the compound. It is easy to get lost in the dense forest.


Wolf's Lair was divided into several zones. Zone 1 was obviously reserved only Adolf Hitler and his staff. Here there was the operational headquarters of the Wehrmacht to the north of the railway. The main staff building was surrounded by several rings of barbed wire, watchtowers, minefields, anti- aircraft and machine- gin positions.


Zone 2 surrounded Zone 1 and contained civilian and military offices as well as rail station of Wolf's Lair. Headquarter commandant lived in the south region of this zone. While South- East regions of Zone 2 was inhabited by officials of Military Aviation (Luftwaffe), Navy (Kriegsmarine), Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Ministry of Armaments.


Zone 3 of Wolf's Lair was located between Zone 2 and minefields that surrounded the whole compound. Here military guards carried their watch of the periphery, while anti- aircraft kept the skies safe from enemy attacks. After the end of World War II Wolf's Lair was abandoned. Between 24th and 25th January 1945 Red Army blew up main buildings of the Wolf's Lair. Some of the bunkers can be accessed, but it is too dangerous to go below ground. Polish and Red Army spent over 10 years demining the area. They discovered about 54 000 mines and more than 200 000 different ammunition. Right picture show the monument dedicated to all Polish soldiers and officers who perished while removing this deadly material from the grounds of the Wolf's Lair.