In the movie ‘Valkyrie,’ Tom Cruise played Col. Claus von Stauffenberg, the high-ranking German officer in charge of the 20 July Plot to assassinate Adolf Hitler during World War II, he carried out his plan to place a briefcase containing a bomb to the Wolfsschanze (auf Englisch, the Wolf’s Lair). The attempt failed when another officer moved the briefcase so that Hitler was only injured. Stauffenberg and the other conspirators in the plot were swiftly executed and have since become German war heroes.
Located in Gierloz, Poland, among East Prussian marshlands and forest, the Wolfsschanze is a haunting reminder of how far evil can reach, considering it’s where Hitler spend much of his time during the war. Since the release of ‘Valkyrie,’ tourism has spiked, with about 200,000 visitors a year, proving that the bunker’s ruins are a draw for more than history buffs.
The 618-acre site housed up to 2,000 people working for Hitler, including Herman Goering, who was in charge of the Luftwaffe air force. It was also where Hitler greeted allies, such as Fascist Italian leader Benito Mussolini. According to Wolfsschanze tour guide Jerzy Szynkowski, “Hitler lived right here, in this bunker…This is where his most paranoid ideas saw the light of day: the extermination of the Jews, the death camps, the decision to raze Warsaw after the 1944 Uprising.”
Historical Film Facts:
Germany heavily restricts the Nazi symbol of the swastika, although there are exceptions for artistic displays, such as movies. To maintain historical accuracy, authentic swastikas were used. To stem public outrage, the crew posted warnings around filming locations, but a local passerby saw the symbols and filed an official complaint with the city of Berlin.