We left the Baltic States through the narrow passage (approximately 80 km. wide)
between Kaliningrad and Belarus, both of which belong to Russia and require a visa
to enter (our Russian visas expired three weeks ago). This led us into Poland.
Our first stop was at Wolfsschanze (Wolf's Lair), Hitler's headquarters during his
Russian campaign and his main residence from 1941 to 1944. It was here that Colonel
Klaus von Stauffenburg tried to assassinate Hitler during a regular staff meeting. He
brought a briefcase bomb into the meeting, left it by Hitler and went to answer a
pre-arranged phone call. Another officer, not in on the plan, moved the briefcase. Hitler
was only wounded although several others died. The colonel was executed along with
5,000 others Hitler claimed were in on the plot.
This is one of the bunkers for the officers living there. Hitler had one all to
The area had a lot of buildings, all out of brick or concrete. The living quarters
were the huge bunkers and office spaces were brick. There were also shelters underground
and a railroad line to a nearby airport. The site had several hundred people at
it. All of this was under camouflage netting.
When the Russians got close to here the buildings and bunkers were loaded with tons
of high explosives. When the site was abandoned, they detonated the explosives and
destroyed the site. The angled slab of concrete is the roof of a bunker, almost
20 feet thick that came down when the wall went outward.
Today the site is badly overgrown with brush and small trees. It is possible to
tell which trees were there in WW II because of the size difference but the area
between them is filled with smaller trees and brush that block viewing of the ruins
except where visitors have kept it open.
After an hour looking at the broken blocks of concrete we had had enough and went
on to Warsaw. Warsaw was completely destroyed in WW II and was rebuilt in the original
model. This is the city hall square (even if it is triangular).
The weather was rain showers and dry times. We didn't bring our rain jackets so
we took shelter on a porch with two nuns and a young family until it that shower
was over. We also saw this wedding party with the bridesmaid holding the umbrella
as they went to the old (newly rebuilt) city gate for a photo session.
On August 1st of 1944 the Poles had had enough of German occupation and rose up against
them. The Polish army was a division of the Red army and with them were many citizens. They
had some armament but it was of poor quality. They were up against hardened troops
with much better arms. It was rocks and rifles against tanks and machine guns. On
September 14th there were 40,000 Polish insurgents and 180 citizens killed as well
as 25,000 Germans dead or wounded. The Red Army was across the river at the edge
of the city but did not come to the assistance of the Poles.
The monument represents the insurrection with a man coming out of a manhole on the
right, a woman with a child on the left and a group of soldiers coming from under
the concrete blocks in the rear. It is very poignant and represents a sad chapter
in Poland's history.