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Skeletons found buried inside Hermann Göring’s former residence

The remains of five people, including a newborn baby, were found among the ruins of Hermann Göring’s residence at the remote Nazi command centre in northeastern Poland known as the Wolf’s Lair.
Fundacja Latebra
Amateur archeologists have found five skeletons buried at Hermann Göring’s former residence in the remote Wolf’s Lair, the Nazis’ Eastern Front headquarters where German military officers failed in a 1944 plot to assassinate Adolf Hitler.

Missing hands and feet, the otherwise complete skeletons of three adults, a teenager and a newborn baby were uncovered Feb. 24, 2024, along with a skull underneath the brick building that served as the Luftwaffe chief’s on-site living quarters.

Fundacja Latebra, a Poland-based historical organization, said the remains were arranged together, oriented in the same direction, at the bunker complex deep in a forest near Gierloz in northeastern Poland.

Retreating Wehrmacht troops had burned the 6.5-square-kilometre site to keep it from falling into Red Army hands in January 1945. Part of East Prussia at the time, the now-largely overgrown area has been heavily searched and researched since, so the finds by amateur history buffs came as a particular surprise.

The German and Polish archeologists thought they were digging up an old bathroom when they discovered buried pipes, charred boards, a burned key and a skull fragment. Police were called and further excavation uncovered more remains. There were no signs of clothing, and no personal objects were recovered.

“The sight shocked us,” said the foundation’s Piotrek Banaszkiewicz. “Initially, we thought they were animal bones, and we weren’t sure what we were dealing with until a delicate skull emerged at one point.”

Polish police and amateur historians investigate the grave soon after it was discovered.
Fundacja Latebra
It’s not known when the remains—possibly a family—were deposited there, though Oktavian Bartoszewski, publisher of the magazine Relikte der Geschichte (Relics of History) and an excavation participant, said it wouldn’t have been possible for workers laying the pipes to miss them if they had been there when the house was built in 1940.

Police have launched a full-scale investigation and have already said they found no evidence of a recent crime at the site. Authorities plan to carbon-date the remains.

Defendant Hermann Göring sits in the prisoners’ dock at the International Military Tribunal trial of war criminals at Nuremberg in 1946.
Hitler used the Wolfsschanze, or Wolf’s Lair, and its 200-some buildings as a part-time base between 1941 and 1943. He launched Operation Barbarossa, the June 22, 1941, invasion of the Soviet Union, from there.

And the Wolf’s Lair was where Colonel Claus von Stauffenberg executed Operation Valkyrie, the July 20, 1944, plot by a group of Hitler’s senior army officers to assassinate him, overthrow the Nazi regime, and make peace with the Allies.

The leader of the conspiracy, von Stauffenberg attempted to kill the top Nazi during a meeting by detonating a timed bomb hidden in a briefcase.

A German officer holds up the pants Hitler was wearing when the attempted assassins’ bomb went off at the Wolf’s Lair.
German Federal Archive
But Major-General Heinz Brandt, unaware of the plot, inadvertently saved Hitler’s life when he casually moved the briefcase next to a heavy oak table leg standing between it and the Nazi leader. The subsequent blast killed Brandt and three other officers, but only wounded Hitler and the others. The chancellor’s pants were singed and shredded, his eardrum perforated, and he was beset by conjunctivitis.

The coinciding coup attempt in Berlin was foiled and more than 200 conspirators and other suspected Hitler opponents were rounded up, given show trials and executed, some of them tortured and strung up by piano wire.

Stauffenberg got no trial. He was shot by a hastily assembled firing squad at 1 a.m. on July 21, speaking his last words, “Es lebe das heilige Deutschland!” (long live sacred Germany) or “Es lebe das geheime Deutschland!” (long live secret Germany), the latter an apparent reference to his co-collaborators.

His eldest brother, Berthold Schenk Graf von Stauffenberg, a central figure in the plot, was tried in the Volksgerichtshof, or special “people’s court” for political offences, on Aug. 10. Berthold was one of eight conspirators executed by slow strangulation at Plötzensee Prison, Berlin, later that day.

The mastermind of the plot to assassinate Hitler, Claus von Stauffenberg, was summarily executed by firing squad the night the plot failed. He was one of the lucky ones.
Everything Claus von Stauffenberg
Before he was killed, Berthold was throttled (choked to the point of passing out) and revived multiple times. The entire execution process was filmed for Hitler to view at his leisure.

German general Erwin Rommel, the legendary Desert Fox, knew of the plot but was not a direct participant, nor did he inform Nazi authorities of it. He was found out and given a choice between suicide with honour and without repercussions for his family, or a trial bringing him disgrace and inevitably execution. He chose the former.

A skull and five skeletons, minus their hands and feet, were discovered at the site.
Fundacja Latebra
A First World War flying ace, Göring headed the German air force throughout WW II, ascending to the No. 2 position in the Nazi hierarchy before he fell out of favour following his failures to resupply surrounded and starving Wehrmacht troops at Stalingrad and stem the tide of Allied bombers over German cities.

As Nazi fortunes turned, Göring increasingly stepped back from military and political affairs to devote his attention to collecting property and artwork, much of it stolen from Jewish victims of the Holocaust.

Informed on April 22, 1945, that Hitler planned to commit suicide in his Berlin bunker, Göring sent the Nazi leader a telegram requesting his permission to assume leadership of the Reich. Hitler considered the request an act of treason and removed Göring from all his positions, expelled him from the party and ordered his arrest. Grand Admiral Karl Dönitz ultimately succeeded Hitler as chancellor.

Göring escaped Hitler’s wrath, but after the war was convicted of conspiracy, crimes against peace, war crimes and crimes against humanity. He was the highest Nazi official tried at the Nuremberg trials in 1946. He was sentenced to be hanged, but died by suicide with cyanide the night before his scheduled execution.

Fundacja Latebra is one of the few organizations permitted to conduct archeological research at the Wolf’s Lair, which was turned into a tourist attraction in 1959 and brings in more than 200,000 visitors annually.

How and why the remains ended up there, who they were and why they were unclothed without hands and feet is still a mystery.

Police and Fundacja Latebra workers survey the scene at Göring’s former residence.
Fundacja Latebra
Speculation is rampant over whether Göring was aware the remains were buried below his living quarters. German media said they could have belonged to victims of a mass killing, possibly but not necessarily carried out by the Nazis.

Besides Hitler and Göring, senior Nazis such as Martin Bormann, Wilhelm Keitel and Alfred Jodl used the Wolf’s Lair as an isolated, well-protected complex where they could plan military campaigns, as well as Holocaust atrocities.

Hitler spent a total of 800 days at the wartime site, more than anywhere else during the entire conflict.

Fundacja Latebra has spent years searching the Wolf’s Lair, for the most part uncovering everyday items such as dishware and tools.

Said a group statement: “The uniqueness of this discovery lies in the fact that the bodies were found on the premises of the most heavily guarded complex of the Third Reich.”


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