Restoring the Walls, and the History, at Hitler’s Wolf’s Lair
KETRZYN, Poland — For nearly three years, Hitler commanded the Third Reich from a vast network of bunkers and buildings hidden in the forest here, guiding his genocidal war effort from an encampment called the Wolf’s Lair.
But while Poland went to great lengths to preserve the memory of Nazi death camps like Birkenau, the significance of this historic outpost was largely lost. Under lease to a private company, the Wolf’s Lair was transformed into a place to take pottery lessons and play paintball. Although most people still come here for the historic value, there is little in the way of educational materials, and at least one nod to the past is more kitschy than thoughtful: visitors can pose for photos wearing Nazi uniforms.
Now, however, the Polish government has decided that the Wolf’s Lair holds valuable history lessons that need to be preserved, especially amid signs that right-wing ideologies of hate and blame are taking root in corners of Europe. As a requirement of issuing a new lease, the Polish Ministry of Culture and National Heritage has demanded that the company running the site transform it into a historical and educational destination with detailed outdoor exhibits and a museum....
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