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Hitler's Wolfschanze at Rastenburg in July 1944

Facilities & Installations

On 27 July 1944 while overflying East Prussia on a mapping mission, a Luftwaffe reconnaissance sortie covered the area around Rastenburg (now Ketryzn) and Hitler's Wolfschanze (Wolf's Lair). Despite the relatively small-scale, the imagery provided good --possibly unique--coverage of the complex, which included the Wolfschanze headquarters, Rastenburg airfield and area air defenses. The date of the sortie is significant in that it was flown only seven days after the attempt on Hitler's life at the Wolfschanze.

The Wolfschanze was built for Hitler prior to the invasion of the USSR, and between June 1941 and November 1944, he spent over 800 days there. The complex, 7 km east of Rastenburg , was composed of three secured areas with bunkers for Hitler and his inner circle, support facilities, a rail siding for his train and a landing area for courier aircraft (Graphic 1). The much larger airfield for external flights was located 6 km southwest of the headquarters and 7 km southeast of Rastenburg. By early 1944, Hitler had become concerned about the headquarters’ security and directed bunkers at the complex be hardened. While the renovations were in progress, Hitler spent the early summer of 1944 at the Obersalzberg, returning in July.

The Wolfschanze was situated in a wooded site straddling the railroad line between Rastenburg and Angerberg (Wegorzewo) where the Wehrmacht high command (OKH) had its own bunker complex at Mauerwald (Mamerki). Although security fencing around the Wolfschanze was not readily apparent, some of the main bunkers and buildings could easily be seen. Still unfinished, Hitler's bunker stood out clearly (Graphics 2 & 3). A rail spur that had probably supported construction and renovation of the facility could be seen east of the complex.

Hitler received visitors at the Görlitz rail station at the western side of the complex (Graphic 4). His personal train --the Führersonderzug-- was kept at the adjacent rail siding and indeed, on 27 July a train of about the right length could be seen there. There appeared to be only the one rail siding, although current maps indicate there may have been two. A tree-covered road along the siding could also have been concealed with netting.

Rastenburg-Wilhelmsdorf Airfield was small, but well-equipped. Two 900 -meter concrete runways were connected by a taxiway to the support area with four hangars. A new loop taxiway connecting the runways was under construction. Two dispersal areas with revetted parking positions were north and west of the support area. Sixteen aircraft –-including eight probable Ju 52-- were present. The airfield was defended by several light anti-aircraft sites.

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