Room of failed Hitler assassination plot recreated in fascinating detail
The room in which the most important plot to kill Adolf Hitler during World War Two was carried out has been recreated in fascinating detail.
Visitors to the vast site of concrete bunkers near Olsztyn can now travel back in time 75 years and find themselves in the centre of events that could have changed the course of the war and saved millions of lives.
On 20 July 1944, Colonel Claus von Stauffenberg placed a briefcase packed with explosives under an oak table in a meeting room inside the Wolf’s Lair, Hitler’s Eastern Front military headquarters.
The bomb exploded killing four and injuring many others in the room, but Hitler survived with only light injuries.
Had the plot succeeded, the plotters’ intention was to seize control of the German government, disarm the SS and arrest the Nazi leadership.
The reconstruction, which is part of an exhibition called Wolfsschanze 20.07.1944, used archive documents, photographs, witness testimony and the knowledge of local guides to recreate the room as it was in July 1944.
Sebastian Trapik from the Wolf’s Lair, told TFN: “There is no photograph of the actual meeting room from before the assassination attempt. However, there are archive photos of other similar meeting rooms.
“The interiors of all these rooms were designed to the same standard. Very modest and sparse. It was this style that we tried to recreate.”
Most of the furniture was reconstructed on site by hand by a team of carpenters. The centrepiece is the simple oak table at which senior Nazis plotted Germany’s rampage across Eastern Europe.
Lying under the table is a replica of von Stauffenberg’s briefcase in which the bomb was placed.
The recreated room is not in the actual one used during the war. It has been made in the bunker that was used by Wilhelm Kietel, Chief of Armed Forces High Command, a war criminal executed by hanging in 1946.
Only traces remain of the actual meeting room. It was destroyed completely by withdrawing German forces like most of the buildings on the site.
Trapik explained that Kietel’s bunker is similar in size and layout and nearby the one where the original meeting was located.
The bunker is in the thirteen-hectare Zone One, which was reserved for Nazi dignitaries, including Adolf Hitler. The whole site measures around two hundred and fifty hectares.
Visitors will be able to see objects found by archaeologists in the vicinity of the meeting room.
Among the archaeological finds are bottles, plates, cosmetics containers, shaving razors, toothpaste tubes, and a hairdresser’s shield.
Trapik revealed that a metal internal door from Hitler’s personal bunker was found on the site recently.
The whole door with anti-chemical warfare seals was found in one piece. It will undergo renovation then put on general display.
The exhibition is not just a reconstruction. It aims to educate visitors by answering key questions: how did Hitler escape death when others were killed; how would the war have changed if the plot had been successful; and how many lives would have been saved?
The Wolf's Lair served as Hitler's headquarters from 1941 to January 1945. The structures at the Wolf’s Lair were blown up at night of 24 January 1945.
On 27 January, the destroyed quarters were occupied by the Red Army. The Wolf's Lair was opened to the public in 1959. Currently, it is managed by the Srokowo Forest Inspectorate.
According to historians, it was at the Wolf’s Lair that many important decisions about the war were made affecting the fate of many millions of people.