Tag: Wolf's Lair

Tag: Wolf’s Lair

Top things to do in Olsztyn

There’s a lot to see and do in the city. Here’s our list of the Top things to do in Olsztyn. Click on the links for further information or to book a tour & buy tickets.

1. Museum of Warmia & Masuria

It’s a two for one deal when you visit the Museum of Warmia & Masuria because it is located inside of Olsztyn's impressive red-brick 14th century castle; which is the most important historic structure in the city. One of the first things you will see is a bronze of Nicolaus Copernicus, a Renaissance-era mathematician and astronomer, who formulated a model of the universe that placed the Sun rather than Earth at its centre. He actually lived in the castle between 1516 – 1520 and made some of his famous observations there. You can still see some of his work today.

Further information.

2. The Olsztyn Castle

The Olsztyn Castle is a red-brick 14th century Gothic castle located in the heart of Olsztyn adorned with corner turrets, and is the former home of Nicolaus Copernicus. Today, the castle houses the Museum of Warmia & Masuria. Miraculously, the castle came through the war without damage, and today it is one of Poland’s best preserved medieval castles.There’s a lot to see within the castle including a beautiful courtyard with two story arcaded galleries, a vaulted cellar, the vaulted Grand Refectory, the chapel, and various exhibitions.

Further information.

3. The Cathedral

The 14th century Gothic cathedral contains some magnificent works of art including two Late Gothic winged altars (triptychs) from the 16th century. The cathedral’s 7-story tower was added in 1596.

Further information.

4. Lake Ukiel

The largest lake within the city limits and a favourite place for the locals to visit. You’ll find people swimming, boating, cycling, walking or just chilling. The lake is 4.1 sq km long and 43m deep.

5. Wolf’s Lair (95km from Olsztyn)

The Wolf’s Lair (Wolfsschanze in German) is hidden in thick forest in the Masurian woods, 8km east of Kętrzyn and was Hitler’s main headquarters during WWII. The complex, which became one of several Führer Headquarters in various parts of Central and Eastern Europe, was built for the start of Operation Barbarossa, the invasion of the Soviet Union in 1941. A famous attempt to assassinate the Führer took place here on 20th July 1944. Today, it is 18 hectares of huge, overgrown and partly destroyed bunkers. During World War II, it was a top-secret, high security site surrounded by three security zones and guarded by personnel from the SS-Begleitkommando des Führers, Reichssicherheitsdienst and the Wehrmacht's armoured Führerbegleitbrigade.

Further information.

6. Museum of Folk Architecture

Located in the north eastern outskirts of Olsztynek is this open-air museum featuring 74 examples of regional timber architecture from Warmia and Masuria, plus a cluster of Lithuanian houses. You’ll find dwellings, farm buildings, churches, a water mill, oil house and a smithy. The museum is best visited in summer when special events take place and demonstrations of local handicrafts can be watched in some of the buildings.

Further information.

Wolf’s Lair

Wolfsschanze

Wolf’s Lair – updated 21 September 2022

The Wolf’s Lair (Wolfsschanze in German) is hidden in thick forest in the Masurian woods, 8km east of Kętrzyn and was Hitler’s main headquarters during WWII. The complex, which became one of several Führer Headquarters in various parts of Central and Eastern Europe, was built for the start of Operation Barbarossa, the invasion of the Soviet Union in 1941. A famous attempt to assassinate the Führer took place here on 20th July 1944.

Wolf’s Lair

Bunkers

Today Wolf’s Lair is 18 hectares of huge, overgrown and partly destroyed bunkers. During World War II, it was a top-secret, high security site surrounded by three security zones and guarded by personnel from the SS-Begleitkommando des Führers, Reichssicherheitsdienst and the Wehrmacht’s armoured Führerbegleitbrigade.

Wolf’s Lair was an impressive feat of engineering with a remote location carefully chosen far away from typical aerial bombing targets such as transport routes and towns. 3,000 German labourers were involved in its construction consisting of 80 structures. These included seven bombproof bunkers for the top leaders of the Third Reich with walls and ceiling up to 8m thick.

Wolf’s Lair

3 security zones

The decision to build Wolf’s Lair was made in the autumn of 1940. Built in the middle of a protecting forest and located far from major roads. The complex occupied more than 6.5 km2 (2.5 sq. mi) and consisted of three separate security zones.

The most important of which was Sperrkreis 1 (Security Zone 1), in which was located the Führer Bunker and concrete shelters of members of the inner circle such as Hermann Göring, Martin Bormann, OKW chief Wilhelm Keitel and “chief of operations” OKW Alfred Jodl.

There was a total of ten bunkers in this area, all camouflaged and protected by 2 metres (6 ft 7 in) of steel-reinforced concrete. Hitlers was on the northern end, with all its windows facing north to avoid direct sunlight. Both Hitler’s and Keitel’s bunkers had rooms in which military conferences could be held.

Sperrkreis 2 (Security Zone 2) included military barracks and housing for several important Reich Ministers like Albert Speer, Joachim von Ribbentrop and Fritz Todt as well as Hitler’s escort battalion, the Führer Begleit Brigade.

Sperrkreis 3 (Security Zone 3) made up the outer security area of the compound, complete with land mines, special security troops and guard houses.

Close by was a facility for the Wehrmacht Operations Staff, and army headquarters was located several kilometres to the northeast of the FHQ complex. All these installations were served by a nearby airfield and train lines.

About two thousand people lived and worked at Wolf’s Lair at its peak, among them twenty women.

Security

The security around the bunkers was impressive and included barbed wire barriers, gun emplacements and minefields in addition to some of Hitler’s most war-hardened troops. The camp included an emergency airstrip and a backup airfield 5km away to allow the Nazi Elite a quick exit if the need ever arose. The natural camouflage of the forest was further enhanced with artificial vegetation-like screens suspended on wires and changed according to the season of the year. The Allies did not discover Wolf’s Lair until 1945.

Hitler

Hitler spent a long time in Wolf’s Lair. He arrived on 26th June 1941 and stayed there until 20th November 1944 with only short trips away.

Wolfsschanze

Having survived an assassination attempt within the complex in July 1944, Hitler left Wolf’s Lair as the Soviet Red Army approached a few months later.

Assassination attempts at Wolf’s Lair

The Wolf’s Lair was the location of the July 20 plot to kill Hitler. During the period of reconstruction of the Führer Bunker in the summer of 1944, the daily strategy meetings were moved to the little building known as the Lager barrack, where staff officer Claus von Stauffenberg carried a bomb hidden in a briefcase into the meeting room and placed it just a few feet away from Hitler.

At 12:43 p.m. the bomb devastated the interior of the building but left Hitler only slightly injured. However, four others died from their wounds a few days later. The force of the blast was diminished because a staff officer unknowingly moved the briefcase on the opposite side of a thick wooden table leg from where von Stauffenberg had placed it, probably saving Hitler’s life. It is believed that had the bomb exploded in the massive concrete Führer Bunker as originally intended, everyone in the structure including Hitler would have been killed.

The Escape

Just moments before the blast, the would-be assassin and his adjutant, Lieutenant Werner von Haeften rapidly made their way from the conference barrack toward the first guard post just outside Sperrkeis 1. After a short delay they were allowed to pass and proceeded along the southern exit road toward Rastenburg airport.

By the time they reached the guard house at the perimeter of Sperrkreis 2, the alarm had been sounded. According to the official Gestapo report, “at first the guard refused passage until von Stauffenberg persuaded him to contact the adjutant to the compound commander who then finally authorized clearance”. It was between here and the final checkpoint of Sperrkreis 3 that von Haeften tossed a second briefcase from the car containing a second bomb which was also intended to explode in the conference barrack.

It is believed that had this bomb also been placed with the other, everyone inside would have been killed. Checkpoint three, the final barrier located at the outer reaches of the Wolf’s Lair, was expected to prove impenetrable, but the two men were simply waved through to the Rastenburg airport.

Operation Valkyrie

Thirty minutes after the bomb blast the two men were airborne and, on their way, back to Berlin and Army general headquarters. It was in this building, called the Bendlerblock, that “Operation Valkyrie”, a covert plan to react to the breakdown in civil order of the nation and suppress any revolt was transformed into the secret plot to assassinate the Führer of the German Reich.

However, when it was discovered that Hitler was still alive, the plan was doomed and along with it von Stauffenberg, his adjutant Werner von Haeften and co-conspirators General Friedrich Olbricht and his chief of staff Colonel Albrecht Mertz von Quirnheim, who were arrested and executed in the courtyard of the Bendlerblock on the evening of July 20, 1944.

Red Army

The Wolf’s Lair complex was blown up on the 24 January 1945, just three days before the Red Army arrived. Many tons of explosives were required to do the job; one bunker required an estimated 8 tons of TNT. The minefield protecting the now ruined bunkers was still active with approximately 55,000 mines and it took 10 years to make the complex safe.

Wolfsschanze

What to see

There’s not a lot to see nowadays, but with a little imagination and a site map or tour guide, you will be able to get a flavour of what life must have been like at Wolf’s Lair. The structures of the complex are conveniently numbered so that you can quickly ascertain what purpose they served. Number 13 is Adolf Hitler’s bunker, which is now just one wall but Göring’s home, number 16 is in surprisingly good condition.

Tours

Wolf’s Lair private tour from Warsaw

Visit Wolf’s Liar – Adolf Hitler’s first Eastern Front military headquarters in World War II. The complex, which would become one of several Führer Headquarters in various parts of occupied Europe, was built for the start of Operation Barbarossa.

Your tour begins with pickup from your Warsaw accommodation in a Mercedes-Benz vehicle. From there, begin your comfortable transfer to Wolf’s Lair. This top-secret, high-security site was in the Masurian woods, about 8 kilometers from the small East Prussian town of Rastenburg (Kętrzyn).

Visiting this one-in-a-kind place is a truly remarkable experience and allows you to learn more about the history of World War II and Hitler’s philosophy. The atmosphere of war is still floating through the air of the ruins, and the whole complex is a perfect example of Hitler’s megalomania and entourage – Book now

Visit the Wolf’s Lair website.

Warmia-Masuria (Warminsko-Mazurskie)

Warmia-Masuria

Warmia-Masuria – updated 23 September 2022

Warmia-Masuria (Warminsko-Mazurskie) is the water sports capital of Poland, and it is dominated by the Great Masurian Lakes. Every year, thousands of kayakers, windsurfers and sailors arrive in the province to have fun on the water.

Land of a thousand lakes

Masuria and the Masurian Lake District are known in Polish as Kraina Tysiąca Jezior and in German as Land der Tausend Seen, meaning “land of a thousand lakes.” These lakes were ground out of the land by glaciers during the Pleistocene ice age, when ice covered north-eastern Europe. By 10,000 BC this ice started to melt. Great geological changes took place and even in the last 500 years the maps showing the lagoons and peninsulas on the Baltic Sea have greatly altered in appearance.

Warmia-Masuria

Elbląg–Ostróda

At 24,192 square kilometres, Warmia-Masuria is not the biggest region in Poland, but it sure has a lot to offer. Once you’ve explored the lakes, you can experience water of a different sort on one of the world’s most intriguing canals, the Elbląg–Ostróda; which runs 80.5 kilometres southward from Lake Drużno to the river Drwęca and lake Jeziorak. The canal uses a system of inclined planes between lakes to overcome a 100 m difference in water levels and is considered one of the most significant monuments related to the history of technology.

Krutynia

Warmia-Masuria also has countless rivers, swamps and wetlands to have fun in. The river Krutynia, which flows from Lake Warpuńskie into Lake Bełdany is a popular destination for kayakers and is considered to be one of the most picturesque waterways in Poland.

The province's name derives from two historic regions, Warmia and Masuria and its capital and largest city is Olsztyn.

Warmia-Masuria is home to Hitler’s wartime hideout, the Wolf’s Lair, one of Europe’s most significant WWII sites. There’s also Palaces, Gothic castles, Gothic churches and museums to explore.

Wolf’s Lair

One of the most-visited attractions in Warmia-Masuria is the Lidzbark Castle, which was the residence of bishops for hundreds of years. It was here that Nicolaus Copernicus sketched the first draft of his theory on the movement of the Earth.

Wolf's Lair

The Wolf’s Lair in Gierłoż is well-worth a visit. Wolf’s Lair is the standard English name for Wolfsschanze, Adolf Hitler’s first World War II Eastern Front military headquarters, one of several Führerhauptquartier (Führer Headquarters) or FHQs located in various parts of Europe. Hitler first arrived at the Wolf’s Lair late on the night of 23 June 1941 and departed for the last time on 20 November 1944. Overall, he spent over 800 days there during that 3.5-year period.

The Germans blew up this enormous complex of 80 buildings and bunkers near the end of World War II, but some buildings remain. You can also see the remains of the conference barrack that was the scene of an unsuccessful attempt on Hitler’s life.

Other places that are worth visiting include: the pyramid in Rapa, which is the family mausoleum of the von Fahrenheid family and is loosely inspired by the architecture of ancient Egypt. The family members buried there were mummified.

The English version official website for Warmia and Masuria is actually quite good and is worth looking through for further information about the region – https://mazury.travel/en/

Tours & Attractions