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The Wolf’s Lair Attempts Transition From Tourist Trap to Educational Site

The site deep in the Polish forest where a group of high-level Nazi conspirators set off a bomb attempting to kill Adolf Hitler is being rebuilt and should be ready for the 75th anniversary of the event this summer.

David Crossland at Deutsche Welle reports that authorities are reconstructing the shack, now just a foundation, as part of an ongoing commitment to reframing the Wolf’s Lair memorial site in Kętrzyn, which during World War II was part of East Prussia.

Hitler lived in the massive complex of bunkers in the Polish forest for three years while commanding his eastern campaigns. At the height of the war, the lair included 50 bunkers, 70 barracks, two airfields and a railway station. It’s where many of the war’s most fateful decisions were made. And where the failed assassination mission, known as Operation Valkyrie, took place.

But after the war, the nerve center of the Third Reich was left to crumble. Run by a private company, history buffs could hire private guides to visit the area, but there was little historical or interpretive material to put the site into context. Instead, Joanna Berendt at The New York Times reports, it became, in the words of the director of the Warsaw Uprising Museum, a “grotesque Disneyland” tourist trap. Not only was the site poorly maintained, it was home to a paintball battlefield, pottery classes, a pellet gun range, and even offered a Nazi uniform photo op. In 1991, a casino was proposed for the site.

Read entire article at Smithsonian.com