Third Reich in ruins: Wolf's Lair today
Third Reich in ruins: Wolf's Lair today Reuters

A 'grotesque Nazi Disneyland' in Poland on the site of Adolf Hitler's Wolf's Liar bunker is to undergo a makeover.

The Polish government's ministry of Culture and National Heritage has stipulated in the latest lease agreement that the site, nestled in the Mazurian Forest, must be converted into a museum and education centre.

The authorities are unhappy that visitors are currently allowed to dress up in Nazi uniforms, fire guns in a shooting gallery built into General Jodl's old offices, and play paintball in rooms where Hitler once plotted world domination.

The 600-acre complex, which has its own restaurant, tour guides and cash machine, currently attracts around 200,000 visitors a year. However critics believe the events and decisions which took place within the Wolf's Lair demand more sober treatment.

It is also reported that the Polish government fears neo-Nazi groups are using the site to glorify Hitler's race hate ideology.

Polish intellectual Jan Oldakowski branded the Lair "a grotesque Disneyland" while eminent Polish historian Tomasz Chincinski, who played a key role in the campaign for an educational centre, said: "At this moment, one does not feel the tragic dimension of this place.

"We need to work on new ways of telling history, to make young generations want, need, to learn it and understand it."

Weight of history

The highly-protected Wolf's Lair was where Hitler had his closest brush with death in 1944. High-ranking General von Stauffenberg detonated a suitcase bomb during a meeting.

The network of buildings known as the Wolf's Lair was blown up by retreating German soldiers as the Soviet Union's Red Army advanced across Europe in January 1945. Today it stands exposed in the open air beneath a canopy of trees and carpeted by moss.

Jan Zaluska, 65, who owns the company which manages the site, has fended off accusations of bad taste before.

Zaluska has previously denied plans for Nazi uniformed waitresses at the restaurant, a casino for gamblers and the creation of waxworks to depict the Stauffenberg assassination attempt.

Ruined by blast: Fuhrer's trousers
Shredded: a picture of Hitler's trousers after the bomb planted by the Stauffenberg conspirators detonated in the Wolf's Lair. Reuters