Wolf's Lair - Poland

Trip Start Oct 30, 2007
Trip End Nov 20, 2009

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Flag of Poland  ,
Monday, September 22, 2008

Over the border back to Latvia and the Gauja National Park (where the wind tunnel was), this time through the rest of the park to go to a lovely village with a brewery, and then down through Lithuania via another brewery (Lithuanian beer has been the best so far of any country on the trip) and into the land of the 'Long White Truck' - ie. Poland.  Honestly, I think we mentioned it before, but Poland has probably more trucks than cars, and they chew up the road leaving grooved tracks that are impossible to drive along in a straight line.  The country is spending heaps on infrastructure, especially roads, mainly with money from the rest of EU, but man does it have a long way to go. 

Not much to see in Poland really - most of the country's like a bland English city - grey, nondescript buildings and flat farmland, so we planned to zip straight through.  However the north east part of the country does have one thing we wanted to see

In the forests surrounded by lakes is Hitler's main base during WWII.  Built in secret, Wolf's Lair, a city of bunkers which housed 3,000 Germans, including Hitler and Goering, had 8m thick roofs (yes, that's over 3 storeys of concrete above your head) and is famed for the closest assassination attempt on Hitler, in 1944.  A senior Third Reich officer, working with accomplices, met at Hitler's bunker for a war strategy meeting, armed with a suitcase with a chemical fuse, which he left next to Hitler and went to take a scheduled 'phone call' (where in fact he legged it quick smart out of there).  Quick by chance, one of Hitler's assistants moved the case to the other side of the room, where it exploded, killing 4 people, but leaving Hitler with only superficial injuries. 

As retribution, not only was the officer on the run killed for his 'treachery', but also a network of accomplices numbering 5,000!  How the war would have changed if the case hadn't got moved!  As the Soviet army advanced on Wolf's Lair, the retreating Germans blew up most of the base, though the scale of the partly intact bunkers was staggering.  Covered in moss, and being reclaimed by nature, it is a very atmospheric place.
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