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he name Wolfsschanze, in translation “Wolf’s Den”, derives from the nickname “Wolf” acquired by Adolf Hitler in the early 1930s and used in his circle of close friends. This nickname inspired the names of two other command centers: Wolfsschlucht, from Belgium, and Wehrwolf from Ukraine. The construction of the military base was completed in 1941, and the headquarters of the East Prussian front were to operate here, from which Hitler was driving his Nazi war machine.

The complex was spread over an area of about 6 square kilometers and comprised a system of three concentric circles designed to provide protection. Moreover, the architects thought of a strategic location, the bunker being camouflaged by the dense vegetation in the area and guarded by the special troops stationed within a radius of 75 kilometers. The base was located in a Polish forest near Ketrzyn. The base was well established with railway lines, a small airport, a power station providing constant energy, and shelters for tanks as well as anti-aircraft batteries.

Hitler’s own Bunker was built-in 1941 (Source: Wikimedia Commons)

Hitler’s life in the Wolfsschanze

Adolf Hitler spent more than 800 days here, between June 1941 and November 1944, imposing a daily program respected by the entire strategic residence. In the morning, around 9:30, the Führer walked his German shepherd, Blondi. The next activity was reading the correspondence and attending the war sessions in which the front strategies were discussed. The ensemble was also visited by Marshal Ion Antonescu, at the beginning of 1942, as a participant in these meetings.

Breakfast was always taken at 2:00 pm, following strict protocol rules regarding the placement around the table. After 5:00 pm, Hitler was conducting another war session, followed by dinner and the usual monologues of the driver listening to his entourage. Late in the evening, in the Wolfsschanze (Wolf’s Den), music was heard on the gramophone or films were screened in the cinema.

During its peak period, around 2000 men and only 20 women worked in the bunker. However, some historians consider this data to be underestimated, citing over 5,000 military base inhabitants. Perhaps the hardest task came from the 15 women who had to taste Hitler’s food, risking their lives daily to make sure it wasn’t poisoned. Recently, Margot Woelk, the only survivor of this team, (the rest of her colleagues were killed by the Red Army), described for The Daily Telegraph the fear of living in the Wolfsschanze (Wolf’s Den) throughout the Second World War.

Adolf Hitler and his German Shepard “Blondi” (Source: Wikimedia Commons)

Breakfast was always taken at 2:00 pm, following strict protocol rules regarding the placement around the table. After 5:00 pm, Hitler was conducting another war session, followed by dinner and the usual monologues of the driver listening to his entourage. Late in the evening, in the Wolfsschanze (Wolf’s Den), music was heard on the gramophone or films were screened in the cinema.

During its peak period, around 2000 men and only 20 women worked in the bunker. However, some historians consider this data to be underestimated, citing over 5,000 military base inhabitants. Perhaps the hardest task came from the 15 women who had to taste Hitler’s food, risking their lives daily to make sure it wasn’t poisoned. Recently, Margot Woelk, the only survivor of this team, (the rest of her colleagues were killed by the Red Army), described for The Daily Telegraph the fear of living in the Wolfsschanze (Wolf’s Den) throughout the Second World War.

Hitler’s offices, in which access was allowed only to very close people of his acquaintance, were in security zone 1, framed by two-meter thick walls, made of reinforced concrete, which had allowed their preservation to date. The ventilation system was carefully monitored, to avoid gassing, and the windows were never placed outside, to avoid the attack of any sniper. Zone 2 included military barracks, along with the homes of several important ministers of the Third Reich, such as Albert Speer or Joachim von Ribbentrop. Security zone 3 was represented by the mined territory surrounding the campus.

Hitler’s office inside the Wolfsschanze (Source: Wikimedia Commons)

Attack on Hitler

The strategic base remained in the history sheets by the latest attack against Hitler, which took place on July 20, 1944 inside the Wolfsschanze (Wolf’s Den). The plan was designed by Colonel Claus Schenk von Stauffenberg, the commander of the General Staff and a close relative of the Führer. During a war session, he placed a suitcase filled with explosives in Hitler’s office right before leaving.

The aim was to kill Hitler and eliminate the Nazi regime in Germany, following which the Reserve Army would take over political and military control. Although the death of Hitler had been announced in Berlin, he was only superficially wounded, an officer unintentionally moved the briefcase, thus removing the bomb from its target. As a result of the explosion, four people died and all 5000 inhabitants of the military base have been executed as they were suspected of being involved in the attack.

Destruction of the Wolfsschanze

The bunker was provided from the design stage with a centralized demolition system, which could be operated in case of an invasion of enemy troops. By October 1944, the Soviet army had advanced to the frontier of East Prussia during the action known as the Baltic Offensive. Thus, in the following month, Hitler ordered the destruction of the complex, an action completed only on the night of 24 to 25 January 1945.

Map of the Wolfsschanze base (Source: Wikimedia Commons)

The Soviet military arrived here two days later, on January 27th. Huge quantities of explosives were used, and the bunkers were badly damaged by the Nazi army, for a single building requires 8 tons of TNT. However, the sinister reinforced concrete structures have been preserved until now, only the interior is completely destroyed. The base is now being reconstituted as a touristic attraction where around 180,000 visitors are amazed by its complexity as well as the beauty of the remote zone.

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