WARSAW – A Polish court ruled Thursday that the state was right to terminate the lease of Hitler’s World War II bunker to a private company that failed to pay rent or upgrade it as a tourist attraction.
Acting for the state, forestry authorities in Gerloz, in northeastern Poland, canceled the lease of Hitler’s Wolf’s Lair in March, but the private company protested the decision, despite owing the state some 1.2 million zlotys ($290,000).
Judge Wieslaw Kasprzyk of the provincial court in Olsztyn confirmed the termination of the agreement was justified. The company said it will appeal.
Forestry authorities will seek other partners to finance their plan of maintaining the historic site and turning it into a real tourist attraction, said the chief local forester, Zenon Piotrowicz.
A system of some 200 Nazi bunkers and military barracks hidden in deep woods, the Wolf’s Lair served as Hitler’s chief quarters from 1941-44, when the area was in Germany. It was the site of the failed assassination attempt on Hitler by Col. Claus Stauffenberg on July 20, 1944, for which he was executed. Stauffenberg’s deed inspired the 2009 Hollywood movie “Valkyrie” starring Tom Cruise and Kenneth Branagh.
After the war, the area became part of Poland. The Wolf’s Lair is now a major tourist attraction visited by some 200,000 history buffs each year.