Posted on July 31, 2019
Now the Polish state’s Srokowo Forest District, which manages the site, is giving the Wolf’s Lair a big makeover to pull in more tourists.
The district’s spokesman Sebastian Trapik told the BBC that the foresters were “making every effort” to maintain “due seriousness and respect for historical truth” at the crumbling complex.
But critics argue that insensitive “attractions”, such as amateurish re-enactments with people wearing Nazi uniforms, could turn it into a sort of ghoulish “Disneyland”.
All the Germans’ reinforced concrete bunkers, minefields and camouflage were no protection against the mutinous officers who tried to kill Hitler at the Wolf’s Lair on 20 July 1944.
The assassination plot makes the site all the more fascinating for visitors today. Hitler survived the briefcase bomb with only light injuries, mainly thanks to a massive oak conference table.
The bomb killed four – three of them officers – and injured more than 20. The German army plotters, led by Col Claus Schenk Graf von Stauffenberg, were quickly arrested and executed. Mr Trapik says a “priority” at the site now is to reconstruct the scene of the bombing, including life-size “symbolic figures depicting those present at the time”. The Nazis detonated massive explosive charges to demolish the dozens of bunkers and other installations as the Soviet Red Army advanced in January 1945.
For decades, in communist Poland, the forest grew back in the ruins and moss spread over the giant concrete blocks. The site’s managers are now improving tourist facilities, but such efforts would backfire if they encouraged neo-Nazi pilgrimages.
There are new information panels, a new car park and entrance building, and plans to build a hotel and restaurant.
A free app guides visitors round the site and they can watch a film about the Nazi HQ’s history. Some military equipment is also on show.
Nearly 300,000 tourists visit every year, most of them Poles and Germans. The basic entrance fee is 15 zloty (£3.16; $4).