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Poland aims to boost tourism at Hitler's lair

The Local · 25 Jan 2012, 10:09

Published: 25 Jan 2012 10:09 GMT+01:00

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The Wolfsschanze, as it was known in German, ended up on Polish territory after border changes following World War II.

Artur Kurek, a senior official of the Polish forestry office, told news agency AFP this week it would invite tenders to run the 250-hectare (618-acre) site of Hitler's former command headquarters near Ketzryn in north-eastern Poland.

"The new contract will include clauses obliging the management to draw children, as much as history buffs," said Kurek, whose office is in charge of the tendering terms.

"We don't want tourists to be coming just for a couple of hours," he added.

Lying overgrown in a forest, the ruined concrete bunkers offer a chilling reminder of World War II, when Hitler turned his darkest dreams into reality.

The Wolfsschanze served as his command complex for much of the war, and is

best known as the site of the failed July 1944 bomb plot against him by

members of the German military.

East Prussia's territory was divide between Poland and the Soviet Union under the border changes that followed the Nazis' crushing 1945 defeat.

The Polish state opened it to the public as a testimony to the Nazis' crimes. In 1993, four years after the fall of Warsaw's communist regime, the authorities devolved the management to Polish investors.

The site currently draws between 180,000 and 200,000 visitors a year, but officials estimate that a seven-million-zloty (€1.6-million) upgrade could raise the number by 20 percent.

The Wolfsschanze was the largest of 10 command bases used by Hitler across

Story continues below…

Germany and occupied Europe after World War II began with the German invasion of Poland in September 1939. It was from here that he steered the brutal Nazi assault on the Soviet Union after breaking the Molotov–Ribbentrop Pact.

He arrived at the site on June 24, 1941, two days after the attack began. He left only on November 20, 1944, as the Soviets rolled back his forces.

In early 1945, as Soviet troops edged ever closer, German sappers used around 10 tonnes of explosives per bunker to try to destroy the site.


The Local (news@thelocal.de)

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Your comments about this article

14:51 January 25, 2012 by tdog1964
A great spot for history buffs of the World War 2 Era
15:23 January 25, 2012 by finanzdoktor
Given that the sappers did such a good demolition job, wonder if there are any plans to rebuild the bunkers, and refurbish them to look as they did back in WW2? That would really make it a tourist attraction.
15:43 January 25, 2012 by catjones
Europe in general and germany in particular have made billions off the war thru tourism and they continue to milk it for every euro. I don't think this commercialization is what Santayana had in mind when he warned to not forget the past.
16:23 January 25, 2012 by Schnurri
What's wrong with making money from hstorical sites? It's a common practice all over the world.

I still think that it was sick that the Germans destroyed Zeppelin Feld. It was one of the most beautiful buildings in the world.
16:35 January 25, 2012 by zeddriver
I don't have any issue with the commercial aspect and I gladly pay the fee to see history preserved and so well presented. I would think that if the historical sites were totally free and only funded through the government. Many would have fallen into ruin. And the past that Santayana didn't want us to forget. Would have been gone or rewritten by politicians if no money to preserve it to a high standard was available.

If Germany was making billions while praising, glorifying and advocating a return to the good old NAZI past. Then those sites should be blown up. But fortunately. We have a very well preserved and well documented view into history.
19:26 January 25, 2012 by catjones
@Schnurri, zeddriver

I distinguish between historical sites and the incessant and morbid Hitler news references made weekly to keep the 'product' alive and viable. It isn't the war that needs to be remembered, but the ease with which war is made. If you look to the right (no pun) of this article, you'll see an advertisement for Mein Kampf...it's 'headed for the newsstands'.
19:40 January 25, 2012 by finanzdoktor
@catjones: Ah, but read the article you mentioned, and you will find that it is a British individual who wants to print and put excerpts of it on German newstands, which the Germans are against.
20:44 January 25, 2012 by bwjijsdtd
Is it history people want to preserve, or is it Hitler they want to preserve? Making money from the 100 millilon who died around the world during WWII just seems wrong to me ... the next thing will be letting people try on glasses, clothing and anything else that can be imagined. Why not turn the gas chambers into a hotel to spend the night ... the SS barracks can be rented by the hour ... can you not see what he did to Europe ... Germany ... and from beyond the grave, he is doing it again.
20:50 January 25, 2012 by carlm
Like the story about dope, if there's a market for this then someone ought to take advantage of it. I'd love to visit and can't think of any harm it could do. Well, no harm except for the baby seal killing carbon footprint emitted as a result of my travel from the great Satan United States to Poland and so on. But other than that nonsense, what's to object about? If nothing else, it's a monument to the pathetic ineptitude and negligence of the German high commands failure to kill one of the greatest murderers in history.
21:22 January 25, 2012 by zeddriver

I don't think it would ever get so far as the SS hotel. I have yet to see a WWII site that even hinted that what happened during the Nazi era was a good thing. In fact. The Gestapo documentation museum in Koln went so far as to explain in detail how the nazi's went about brainwashing the population. And it was eerily similar to what is going on in America. I.E. Get to the children by removing the parents from their parenting duties and turn that responsibility over to the school. And then start the indoctrination. So Santayana was absolutely correct. If you don't learn from history you will repeat it.
01:54 January 26, 2012 by Bulletguy
Certainly the "Wolfs Lair" is on my list of places to visit. I spend a lot of time in Germany and Poland visiting WW2 sites and have also been to eleven Concentration Camps.

Preservation of all the various sites is a difficult 'balancing act' for Germany. Do we destroy them to wipe away all trace of bad memories.....or do we preserve them at risk of them being attacked or desecrated by Neo-Nazis? It is not easy and German Police have always to be on their guard.

I am glad that Germany has preserved and protected the existing WW2 sites as when I was at School it was impossible to learn about WW2 history. It was neither taught or even talked about. And that was in the 50s - early 60s in Britain. Today of course it is taught in Schools. But I had to learn from any books I could find, then television documentaries and much later, the internet.
02:47 January 26, 2012 by dregstudios
Hitler was just a misunderstood artist. Rejection is the most brutal of human conditions and young Adolf underwent the metamorphosis into the monster of our historical lore by his rejection from art school. See him his happiest and read all about it at http://dregstudiosart.blogspot.com/2010/02/happy-little-hitler.html
07:41 January 26, 2012 by heyheyhey

We, in Germany, do not want you visiting here, or any place near us. You are truly an "ugly American.". Your tone, in most posts, is angry and provocative. Who are you fighting with, other than yourself?

I do know that medications are helpful for people with your temperament. Please visit your nearest doctor for help.
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