Anlage Riese

This large tunnel complex is located in the Sowie mountains in southwestern Poland. When construction began in 1943, the Sowie Mountains belonged to Germany and were located in lower Silesia. Between November 1943 and February 1945, huge tunnel complexes were built at seven different sites, completed in whole or in part during the war, Wlodarz, Osowka, Sokolec, Sobon, Rzeczka, Jugowice and Ksiaz. The project was called Riese which in German means about gigantic. From the construction to judge, the project may have had an industrial purpose. It is reminiscent of the war-producing industries that were placed inside the mountains of Germany, among others. Dora-Mittelbau in Nordhausen. A rumor that has arisen is that the Germans planned to build miracle weapons. Other rumours claim that these miracle weapons were in fact nuclear weapons and that the Germans were researching the production of nuclear weapons at Riese. Another theory is that the site would be a huge FHQ for Hitler and the top military leadership from which Hitler would lead the war. But all this is just speculation that, for lack of documents, it is not possible to establish, but they have given rise to the mystique that surrounds the complex. Although it was intended as an FHQ, Hitler never visited the site.

Anlage Riese was also not an independent concentration camp, but the prisoners who were forced to work with the construction came from the Gross-Rosen concentration camp about 100 kilometres north. The prisoners were housed in four satellite camps Wüstegiersdorf, Dornau, Oberwüstegiersdorf and Wüstewaltersdorf. All four camps were subordinated to Gross-Rosen. How many people worked on the complex do not know, nor how many thousands of prisoners died during the work. The complex is over 35 square kilometers in size and until 2009 seven tunnel complexes have been discovered. It is believed that there may be more as yet undiscovered tunnel complexes in the mountains. The tunnels that have been discovered have not been fully explored. When the Soviet Union conquered the area and the tunnels were discovered, they were thoroughly explored, but after this they were left to their fate. As a result, the tunnels were looted.

A few kilometers southeast of Rzeczka at Ludwikowice Klodzkie, is another mythical place that belonged to Riese. Exactly what the experiments carried out on the site, what they were aiming for, whether they took place at all or were even as secretive as the myth says, is open to speculation. But one theory put forward by the Polish writer Igor Witkowski is that the Nazis conducted experiments with an object resembling a large church bell (Die Glocke). Witkowski argues that the Germans experimented with a form of ”antigravity” that would allow visual time travel. Other theories speculate that the clock could have been some form of escape capsule for Nazis who wanted to escape justice. The watch would, among other things, have been driven by radioactive substances, which meant that several of the researchers who worked with the watch lost their lives as a result of radiation. At this site there is a large circular construction that Witkowski believes could be the ruins of the test facility where the watch was tested. But the construction could also be as undramatic as a dilapidated industrial plant that has nothing whatsoever to do with top-secret experiments. Where the clock itself and those who worked on it would have gone after the war is also a subject of myths and speculation.

Current status: Partly preserved/demolished with museum (2011).

Location: 50°40'10.43" N 16°25'06.86" E

Get there: Car.

My comment:

In 1995, private stakeholders took over three of the tunnel complexes, Osowka, Wlodarz and Rzeczka, and opened them up to visitors. The tunnel complexes are characterized by a tourism where coins are struck by the mystery that has arisen around the place. The sites are sometimes marketed as Hitler’s bunker even though he was never there. But it has been understood that there is a market value in the name of Hitler that is fully exploited. The most interesting place to visit is Osowka, where in addition to the tunnels there are also ruins after a factory on the mountain. In 2013, the building was also in full swing with another tunnel museum at Die Glocke.

Follow up in books: Seidler, Franz W. & Zeigert, Dieter: Hitler’s secret headquarters (2004).