Five skeletons found under Wolf’s Lair home of Hermann Göring in Poland


Amateur archaeologists have unearthed five human skeletons missing their hands and feet under the former home of the Nazi war criminal Hermann Göring at Hitler’s Wolf’s Lair military headquarters in present-day Poland.

The remains, believed to be that of a family, were discovered as part of a dig at the site near the north-eastern town of Kętrzyn, where Nazi leaders spent large stretches of the second world war.

Mystery surrounds the chilling find, first reported by Der Spiegel, including the identity of the victims, the circumstances of their burial, and whether the Reichsmarschall knew the bones were there while he lived in the house.

The imposing brick building in a wooded stretch of moorland at the former Nazi Wolfsschanze has largely been reclaimed by nature. It was considered thoroughly researched before the team of German and Polish history buffs set upon it.

Oktavian Bartoszewski, the publisher of the magazine Relikte der Geschichte (Relics of History), said the Gdańsk-based team Fundacja Latebra had worked at the site for years, often turning up banal household items such as crockery and tools.

With the rise of dark tourism, Fundacja Latebra is one of the few organisations with explicit permission to conduct archaeological research at the Wolf’s Lair, which attracts more than 200,000 visitors a year.

Bartoszewski has released a YouTube video documenting the project. He said the team was “completely shocked” to discover in February a skull about 10cm underground while looking for buried wooden flooring in the home, which burned down in 1945. The team immediately notified local police.

“After the administrators of the site and forensic scientists gained an overview and nothing pointed to a recent crime, it was decided to lay the skeleton bare,” Bartoszewski said.

Further excavation revealed five skeletons, which subsequent analysis showed were three adults, a teenager and a baby.

“That was the most horrible thing we found,” he said of the newborn. “They were all lying next to each other, in the same direction.”

None had traces of clothing or other personal objects, meaning the corpses were probably stripped before they were placed there. While it is possible the hand and foot bones – finer than other remains – had simply decomposed, it could not be ruled out that they had been amputated.

Speculation abounds as to whether Göring was aware the bodies were buried below his living quarters, or whether they had been deposited there after the war. German media said the family could have been victims of a mass killing, possibly but not necessarily carried out by the Nazis. Polish prosecutors are investigating.

Senior Nazis including Hitler and Göring but also Martin Bormann, Wilhelm Keitel and Alfred Jodl used the Wolf’s Lair as an isolated, well-protected complex from which to plan military campaigns as well as the atrocities of the Holocaust.

Hitler spent more time at the Wolf’s Lair than anywhere else during the war. It was the site of the failed 20 July 1944 coup in which Claus Schenk Graf von Stauffenberg, a German count, planted a briefcase containing a bomb under an oak table in a botched attempt to assassinate the Führer.

Göring, Hitler’s appointed deputy and heir, and head of the Luftwaffe, was the highest-ranking Nazi official to be tried at Nuremberg. He killed himself with a cynanide pill in 1946 on the eve of his planned execution.