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  • When people think of Hitler's headquarters, they usually think of the Eagle's Nest.

  • The mountaintop headquarters has become a popular tourist site, as people come to see

  • the gathering place of some of history's biggest monsters.

  • The one person who was not such a big fan?

  • Hitler.

  • The Nazi dictator didn't like heights, and only visited it fourteen times.

  • His choice in headquarters was lower.

  • More hidden.

  • More fortified.

  • Hidden in the woods over five miles from the nearest town of Rasteburg, it doesn't even

  • lie in modern-day Germany.

  • Once Prussia, now Poland, those who make the pilgrimage could almost miss it.

  • Today it lies covered in moss and ringed by trees, a relic of a time gone by.

  • But those who get close will find an impressive sight.

  • A massive stone fortress, it has the distinctive nameThe Wolf's Lair”.

  • Why?

  • Because Hitler, never shy to proclaim his own superiority, had taken onWolfas

  • a nickname and liked to litter it through his various headquarters around Europe.

  • And he was unsatisfied with his current choices of hideaways, especially with the war raging

  • in 1940.

  • And in 1940, he ordered his party machine to start construction on a new headquarters,

  • far from the chaos of the war.

  • And it would be massive.

  • The Organization Todt, Hitler's civilian and military engineering organization, was

  • quickly put to work - and so were the large collection of forced laborers they commanded.

  • The plans were drawn up, and the total complex would be around two and a half square miles

  • in size.

  • With three security zones, it would be connected to civilization by a nearby airfield and rail

  • line, but only those in the know would be aware.

  • Because if the Wolf's Lair had one thing going for it, it was camouflage.

  • The forest provided its own form of camouflage, with thick trees, bushes, and grass making

  • it hard to see what was beyond the horizon.

  • But that was nothing compared to what would be added around the Wolf's Lair.

  • Artificial trees would be erected around the complex and on top of the buildings, making

  • it look like part of the forest from the air.

  • Buildings would be connected with dense netting, so approaching soldiers wouldn't be able

  • to see that much of the forest had been carved out for the massive fortress.

  • And that was nothing compared to what was going on inside.

  • The Wolf's Lair was known for its three security zones, each built in a concentric

  • circle.

  • Each military one had a unique purpose, and the first Security Zone was at the heart of

  • the compound.

  • All it took was one look at the facility to know no one was getting in if they weren't

  • supposed to be there.

  • Surrounded by steel fences, the zone was guarded by high-ranking SS officers and managed by

  • some of Hitler's closest allies.

  • Inside, camouflaged bunkers made from concrete reinforced with steel would hold Hitler and

  • his inner circle for military conferences and when hiding from allied forces.

  • Hitler's specific quarters were built on the northern side, so they would never even

  • be hit by revealing sunlight.

  • The other zones served two purposes.

  • The second zone surrounded Hitler's inner circle, and it was a place of refuge for high-ranking

  • allies of Hitler including Albert Speer and the master of the Organization Todt, Fritz

  • Todt.

  • While it served as living quarters, the fortified area was also filled with military barracks,

  • and all those who were within knew they were potentially the barrier between the allies

  • and Hitler - and might be called upon to defend it.

  • But if the place was designed properly, the enemy would never reach it.

  • Security Zone three encircled the other two, and it had one purpose - repel all invaders.

  • Heavily fortified, it was surrounded by landmines and dotted with watchtowers and checkpoints.

  • And overseeing the whole thing was the Fuhrerbegleitbrigade, a powerful armored unit of the Wehrmacht that

  • was often assigned to personally escort Hitler.

  • The exterior of the complex was also guarded by a local Army unit, and they were equipped

  • with tanks and anti-aircraft guns.

  • If anyone got too close to the Wolf's Lair, they would likely find themselves overwhelmed

  • - even if they had no clue what they had gotten too close to.

  • And they would have good reason for the security.

  • By the time the Wolf's Lair was completed in June 1941, it was harder to list which

  • countries Hitler hadn't invaded.

  • The Nazi leader had conquered much of western Europe, including France, and was at war with

  • Great Britain.

  • While Germany and Russia had been allies, that was about to end - only one day after

  • the lair was completed, Hitler began invading the massive Soviet Union.

  • He was the most wanted man in the world, and at the same time as he launched a new front

  • in the war, he moved into his massive bunker.

  • It would become his de facto capitol on the Eastern Front, and it would be far more than

  • just a hideout.

  • Because Hitler spared no expense.

  • The Wolf's Lair wasn't just a bunker - it became Hitler's primary living quarters

  • during the height of the war.

  • The dictator had requested amenities that would be more at home in a high-end hotel.

  • He had access to a barbershop, because that distinctive moustache didn't shape itself

  • every morning.

  • He would dine on the finest cuisine at an on-site restaurant.

  • He even had a personal casino for himself and his inner circle, when it wasn't enough

  • to gamble on the lives of millions of soldiers in Russia.

  • But if you thought he enjoyed it...maybe think twice.

  • As the war front grew and the United States got involved in the war after the bombing

  • of Pearl Harbor, Hitler became increasingly unstable, erratic, and paranoid.

  • The dictator became obsessed with the idea that he was being targeted, and even suspected

  • many of his closest inner circle.

  • As the war raged on, the staff and regulars at the Wolf's Lair grew.

  • While many bunkers only housed a skeleton crew, the Wolf's Lair needed guards, engineers,

  • and staff to attend to Hitler's every wish.

  • At its height, the facilities housed a massive two thousand people - all of whom were subject

  • to Hitler's fast changing whims.

  • He had a routine - and he did not want it disturbed.

  • During most times, Hitler was predictable.

  • He would take his daily walk with his dog, then look at the mail that had been funneled

  • in by plane or train.

  • He would meet with his military advisors,and then go for a run before lunch.

  • He would sit in the same seat every day, between Alfred Jodl and Otto Deitrich, before adjourning

  • to deal with non-military matters.

  • Coffee would follow, after which there would be more military briefings.

  • But there was one area of the day when Hitler was most paranoid.

  • Hitler was convinced someone was plotting to kill him - and he was probably right, but

  • they might not have been in the bunker.

  • But that didn't stop him from becoming obsessed with the idea that his food was being poisoned.

  • He was served elaborate vegetarian meals in the on-site restaurant, but before he would

  • take a bite, he insisted that the staffers taste it before he did.

  • Whether there was a risk or not, Hitler was so convinced that he was being targeted that

  • the staff became paranoid as well - many weeping with relief when they didn't die after their

  • job as tasters.

  • There were brief moments of peace in this headquarters of evil.

  • When the day's business would end, Hitler's bunker almost became a party.

  • After dinner, everyone would retire to the on-site movie theater where films were shown

  • to the entire crowd.

  • Afterwards, Hitler and his inner circle would retreat to his private room.

  • They would listen to music - usually his favorite Wagner or Beethoven music.

  • But above all, Hitler loved to hear himself talk, and would frequently give elaborate

  • monologues to those closest to him.

  • But Danger was lurking, and the Nazi leader was looking in the wrong direction.

  • The Wolf's Lair was supposed to be safe - and it was, from outside enemies.

  • But Hitler had made many enemies in his inner circle.

  • His paranoia, erratic behavior, and genocidal obsession with purging Germany of those he

  • deemed undesirable had made many in the military see him as an unfit leader.

  • By 1944, the German army was the underdog in the war, and military officers were discussing

  • if the only way to save the German war effort was to eliminate its leader.

  • A group of officers decided to assassinate Hitler and install a new, military-centric

  • Government that would turn the tide of the war.

  • But to get to Hitler, they would have to strike at his inner sanctum.

  • Hitler had been well-protected from the outside, but he was vulnerable to those he let in.

  • One of those was Staff Officer Claus Von Stauffenberg, a decorated war hero, who had access to the

  • daily conference meeting.

  • He would bring a briefcase bomb into the meeting, place it near Hitler, and get clear in time.

  • It would be the closest anyone got to assassinating Hitler - but close was no cigar.

  • From the moment the day of the assassination began, things started to go wrong.

  • It all built to an explosive end.

  • Von Stauffenberg's plan was thrown off when the meeting was moved to a different room,

  • as the Wolf's Lair bunker was under construction.

  • The new room was unfamiliar, and von Stauffenberg ran into more trouble when the meeting was

  • called earlier than expected.

  • The bomb was placed, but it was moved slightly before it went off - and when it blew, Hitler

  • was only lightly wounded, although four people in the meeting died as a result of their injuries.

  • Hitler survived, but his inner sanctum had been pierced.

  • It was the beginning of the end.

  • The assassination attempt and the associated Operation Valkyrie had failed, and collaborators

  • were quickly arrested and many were executed.

  • But the Wolf's Lair was about to face a much bigger problem.

  • Hitler had learned the hard way what Napoleon learned a century earlier - invading Russia

  • rarely goes well.

  • The German invasion had run into rough waters, and now the Russians were turning the tide.

  • The Red Army was on the march and by October 1944, they reached the borders of East Prussia.

  • They soon came across the Wolf's Lair, but Hitler had abandoned it, heading towards his

  • final bunker in the last days of the war.

  • But the Russians wanted to make an example of his complex.

  • The order was given to bring it down, and it would be no easy task.

  • The fortified bunkers were not meant to be destroyed from outside, but that didn't

  • deter the Russians.

  • They brought in a whopping 18,000 pounds of TNT and detonated it in January 1945.

  • The whole area shook, the smoke cleared - and much of the building was still standing!

  • Hitler had led his country to ruin, but taking down his favorite bunker was proving to be

  • less possible than toppling his regime.

  • And that wasn't the only reason it was difficult to take down.

  • The Red Army soon found that clearing the many land mines surrounding the installation

  • would be challenging.

  • In total, 54,000 land mines would be removed from the area surrounding the complex, a testament

  • to just how fortified it was - and how paranoid Hitler was that anyone would penetrate it.

  • And even today, Hitler's massive complex still stands.

  • The area of the Wolf's Lair was initially taken over by the post-war government of Poland,

  • and fell into disrepair.

  • But when the communist government fell in the 1990s, the new government saw potential

  • for something else - a tourist site.

  • The ruins draw almost 300,000 visitors a year, and is surrounded by hotels and restaurants.

  • There have even been proposals to rebuild it to make it safer and more attractive to

  • tourists.

  • But that's raised some questions about what the appropriate way to handle the legacy of

  • a monster is.

  • Should the site be razed to avoid it becoming a gathering site for Hitler's remaining

  • fans?

  • But today, the Wolf's Lair still stands as a testament to the massive war machine

  • Hitler built - and how ultimately, it was still doomed just like his regime.

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  • For another of Hitler's most fortified bases, check outWhy Hitler Built a Mysterious

  • Mega Fortressor watch this video instead.

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Secrets of the Hitler’s Massive Command Center

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    Summer posted on 2021/10/17
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