Polish gov't to turn Nazi HQ into educational center
By NISSAN TZUR, JERUSALEM POST CORRESPONDENT
$2 million project aims to educate the younger generation about "Wolf’s Lair," Hitler’s Polish base.
KRAKOW – The Polish government has announced plans to renovate Adolf Hitler’s
wartime headquarters in Nazi-occupied Poland – a network of bunkers known as the
“Wolf’s Lair” – and turn it into an educational center and museum.
million project aims to teach tourists and Polish schoolchildren about the
history of the “Wolf’s Lair” and Nazi ideology. The educational center is
scheduled to open to the public in approximately two years.
idea behind the project is to introduce the Wolf’s Lair as a place where
totalitarian ideas developed and their horrific results,” said Jan Zaluska, 65,
the CEO of Wolf’s Nest, the company that leased the site in 1991 and has
operated it ever since.
“We will turn the Wolf’s Lair into an educational
center, especially for the younger generation,” said Zaluska. “We are very
concerned by the fact that the younger generation’s knowledge of history gets
worse every year as observed in the students who have been coming here from all
over the world in recent years.”
The Polish Culture Ministry also
emphasized the educational purpose behind the project.
“\The goal of the
exhibitions and displays is to show visitors how beliefs like the Nazi ideology
can distort an entire country. The displays will try to tell the story of daily
life in Nazi command and the horrific decisions taken there,” the ministry
One of the exhibitions will show the failed assassination attempt
of Hitler by Colonel Claus von Stauffenberg, which occurred at the Wolf’s Lair
Polish historian Tomasz Chinchinski from the World War II Museum
in Gdansk is responsible for the planned exhibitions.
“We do not want to
create a glorification of Nazism, so our goal is not to show the visitors only
the bunkers and the fortresses or the assassination attempt on Hitler, but to
give them the tragic dimension that symbolizes this place, which was the command
center of a terrible and destructive war machine,” he said.
“We do not
intend to rebuild the Wolf’s Lair as it was then because we believe that this
would be morally wrong. We wish to introduce its history and teach the visitors
about key decisions made in this place that led to the Holocaust.”
on the Wolf’s Lair began in 1940, shortly after Germany’s invasion of Poland
when Hitler decided to build a headquarters that would include dozens of offices
and a chain of large bunkers from which he could command the Nazi
The responsibility for the building of these headquarters was given
to the Todt organization, a government organization that was founded in 1933 by
Fritz Todt, the German minister of ammunition.
Most of the organization’s
workers were prisoners of concentration camps and forced labor prisons. During
four years, they built dozens of underground bunkers in a forest in northern
Poland and placed mines in a large radius around the compound.
years later, anyone who visits this important historical site, the center of
Hitler’s war machine, finds what the Polish historian Jan Oldakowski has
described as a “grotesque Disneyland.”
The complex now includes a hotel,
restaurant, shooting range and other tourist attractions, most of them with no
connection to the original purpose of the structures.
Even the buildings
themselves, many of which were left standing since the end of the war, are
covered with thick moss. Large parts of the bunkers are in ruins.
biggest change that has happened here in the past decade is the placement of a
cash machine,” said Lukasz Joachimek, 36, a tourist guide.
Jankowska, a 22-yearold student of political science at the Gdansk University,
could not hide her disappointment.
“I came to the Wolf’s Lair because I
wanted to see the place where Colonel Von Stauffenberg tried to assassinate
Hitler. I was very disappointed to see the dilapidated condition of the site,”