Monday, March 31, 2008
Once upon a time during my ill spent youth in the late 1970's I was on maneuvers in West Germany north east of Lüneburg Heath and close to the Inner German Border and was sent to find our Brigade Headquarters (a mobile collection of Landrovers and Armoured Personel Carriers with a great mass of aerials).
Wending deeper and deeper into the German forest, aiming for a map reference, we eventually and suddenly came upon an old abandoned wooden guard hut with a broken barrier. Driving through we realised there were a few more decrepit huts and then large concrete structures loomed out of the forest gloom. Overgrown with moss, they had earth on their roofs - which were six, eight or even ten feet thick - deep with forest mulch and from which there were now growing quite sturdy trees.
Some were damaged and cracked, with heavy riveted steel doors hanging off their brackets and recessed machine gun slits with ferns growing out of them; while others still appeared to be in surprisingly good shape.
The British 7th Armoured Brigade Headquarters had set itself up amongst the remains of one of Hitler's command bunkers.
After delivering our dispatch and before leaving we took a look around - there were still odd remnants of their previous occupiers, broken chairs, some moldy wartime newspapers, yellowed notices on noticeboards, rusting Wermacht cooking equipment. But it was that first experience of encountering the bunkers in the dark green of the forest that has stayed in my memory.
Now, it wasn't the Wolfshanze - Hitler's Wolf's Lair - which was in Eastern Prussia - now Poland, although it was a substantial complex. But when I came across these photographs of the Wolfshanze by Swiss photographer Tonatiuh Ambrosetti, it certainly brought back that fascinating - if somewhat formidable experience. (via wood_s_lot)
(BTW, Ambrosetti also has some other good work on his site, such as Rocs2, Memento and War Games)