About twenty kilometres northeast of Opole in southwestern Poland, there is a small town called Jelowa and there on a small station was Hitler’s special train America parked between 9 and 12 September 1939. On September 3, 1939, two days after Germany invaded Poland, Hitler traveled to Poland in his special train (Führersonderzug) America to follow up the German campaign against Poland. Hitler traveled around to different places from where he either by plane or car visited different front sections. On September 9, the train arrived in Jelowa where Hitler stayed until September 12. From Jelowa, Hitler and his entourage made visits closer to the front and had both military and political deliberations, both inside and outside the train. One reason for choosing Jelowa as its temporary headquarters was its proximity to Germany, whose then border was not more than a few miles from Jelowa.

America was officially named in January 1940, but after Germany declared war on the United States in December 1941, the name was changed to Brandenburg in January 1942. The train was well equipped and well armored and had a luxurious interior with comfortable bedrooms, bathroom, guest room, guest room, conference room, press room, communication center, kitchen, dining room, crew room, press room, hairdresser’s room as well as a carriage with his personal car. It was also equipped with two locomotives in case one of them got out of service or broke down for technical reasons.

The advantage of a mobile headquarters is it’s mobility to quickly move between different locations if the situation so required. The downside was that the train was quite exposed, even though it was well armed and surrounded a high level of safety wherever it traveled. A stationary headquarters was not as exposed as a mobile one. Another disadvantage was that it was difficult to gather all the different lines of defense for discussions about war and warfare. A stationary headquarters could house all branches of defence in the same area and could therefore be called up quickly if necessary. Therefore, already at the next campaign, it was established against Western Europe in the spring of 1940, a stationary headquarters on the western front that was named Felsennest.

But in connection with the rapid campaign against the Balkans in April 1941, America was reintroduced as a headquarters when there was simply no time to establish a stationary headquarters. This time, the headquarters in Munichkirchen, Austria, was located next to an existing railway tunnel where the train could park in the event of airstrikes. Hitler, however, came to use both America and Brandenburg for travel throughout the war. Not only to and from headquarters but also to other places in occupied Europe. The last time Hitler traveled with his special train was when he returned to Berlin in January 1945 after the failure of the Ardenner offensive.

Current status: Preserved (2023).

Location: 50°47' 39.95" N 18°02' 50.03" E

Get there: Car.

My comment:

The station has long been closed and shut downed, but still spared from vandalism, it is just there empty and deserted. Trails and embankments are also left, although not as many tracks as when Hitler’s train was there and now in the company of bushes and smaller trees. The platform is also still there and is so beautifully worn down after being more or less left to his fate. But together, this creates a historical presence that, in my opinion, only makes history more beautiful and interesting. The fact that there are photographs taken of Hitler and his entourage when it came out makes it extra interesting to place yourself in both the photographer’s and the subject’s place.

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