Werwolf was one of a number of Führer headquarters that were used by Hitler and senior military commands through the course of the war. Construction of the Werwolf complex began in November 1941, using thousands of POWs and other forced labourers, many of whom died. It was finished in June 1942, and Hitler first arrived on July 16. He stayed until September 27 and subsequently stayed in the Werwolf October 4-November 1, 1942; February 19-22, 1943; February 25-March 13, 1943 and briefly on August 27, 1943. In October 1943, Army Group South took over the complex and was briefly headquartered there. The retreating Germans destroyed the complex before the Red Army retook Vinnitsya on March 20, 1944.
The complex comprised three main reinforced bunkers and a number of other buildings, including a tea house, a barber shop, a bathhouse, a sauna, a cinema and a swimming pool. Little remains of the complex today. The pool is the only intact structure, with large chunks of reinforced concrete the only other visible reminders of the site’s history. Accurate information about what remains of the underground portions of the bunkers is limited, although there are a number of rather fanciful tales of what may lie below ground.
New information boards, in Ukrainian and English, have been erected along the trails through the forest, along with a map at the site entrance. The map notes the site for a proposed museum, although when I visited in June 2012 only a foundation had been laid. Entry to the site costs just UAH10 (€1).
Last year, a small private museum opened in a former sanitarium beside the Werwolf site. The single room (I’m guessing it was the canteen or function room of the sanitarium) contains a collection of German and Soviet propaganda posters, personal items, weapons and uniforms as well as a model of the Werwolf site.
Outside, a Bofors anti-aircraft gun and a small collection of vehicles are displayed, including trucks, cars, a German motorcycle-sidecar combination. The most striking is a replica Tiger I that was built by the local auto club, using a Soviet amphibious tank as a template. It’s not a perfect replica by any means, but I think it’s an impressive achievement for a group of amateurs. A “field kitchen” serves up snacks and drinks. Admission is UAH20 (€2) and the owners are extremely welcoming and enthusiastic.
Vinnitsya has a population of about 370,000 and is a pleasant, if not particularly exciting, place to stop for a few days. Trains and buses from Kiev take 2½-3 hours. The Werwolf site is situated about 6 or 7 miles from the city centre, just off the Kiev highway, and a taxi should cost no more than UAH40-50 (€4-5).