Jelen – Anlage Mitte

About five kilometers east of the city of Tomaszow Mazowiecki in central Poland, the Germans secretly began building a Führerheadquarters in the autumn of 1940. It actually consisted of two places where one was built in a wooded area next to a small community called Konewka and the other about six kilometers south in Jelen. Both projects were part of the preparation of Operation Barbarossa, the German attack on the Soviet Union planned for the spring/summer of 1941. Both sites were surrounded by a few roads and a lot of forest, which made them ideal from a security perspective. The proximity of existing railway lines also contributed to the choice of sites.

Both places were called anlage mitte and at the same time as the construction of anlage mitte was put into operation, two other buildings were also started that were intended as headquarters for the attack on the Soviet Union. One was built about twenty kilometres south of Rzeszow in south-eastern Poland and one, called Nord, was built outside Ketrzyn in north-eastern Poland. The reason for starting three construction works was because the Germans simply wanted different geographical options from which Hitler could lead the war against the Soviet Union depending on how the military situation developed.

At Konewka, a 380-metre-long camouflaged concrete tunnel was built that was supposed to protect Hitler’s train when he was at the site. Next to the tunnel, several service and maintenance bunkers were built. The tunnel in Jelen was largely identical except that it was 355 meters and slightly bent to the construction. Both projects were characterized by a high level of secrecy and those who worked on the projects were not prisoners from concentration camps or prisoners of war. Both facilities were also surrounded by several armed guards. Anlage mitte, however, never came to be used for its purpose as a Führerheadquarter. Only the one outside Ketrzyn, more known as Wolfschanze, became the place from which Hitler came to lead the war against the Soviet Union.

Hitler never visted MItte and the place was never used for the military purposes. The reason for this was due, among other things, the rapid German offensive in the summer of 1941, which meant that the centre was too far from the front line and was therefore not suitable for its purpose. The tunnel in Konewka was instead used as an ammunition storage in 1942 and the tunnel in Jelen was used as a repair shop for aircraft engines in 1944. Konewka was, however, kept in readiness until the summer of 1944 for its original purpose, but this never became a reality. In January 1945, the Germans abandoned Konewka and Jelen without having significantly destroyed the facilities.

Current status: Preserved (2013).

Location: 51° 30' 10.39" N 20° 04' 39.52" E

Get there: Car.

My comment:

The tunnel in Jelen is, unlike the tunnel in Konewka, abandoned. But the proximity to both main routes and major cities makes it visited. The bunkers are filled with graffiti and for the adventurous, just bring a flashlight and walk through the tunnel from one side to the other.

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