Miedzyrzecz Underground Fortifications ( Meseritz )
This photograph shows a small section of the dragon's teeth (tank defences) and monument at Kalawa. A Russian tank, the visitor centre and cafe bar / visitor centre can be seen in the background.
A system of huge, mostly underground, tunnels and fortifications was built on Adolf Hitler's orders between the years 1934 and 1938 close to the then Polish border with Germany. These German military fortifications were known as the O.W.B. (die Festungfront Oder - Warthe - Bogen) or the Ostwall (eastern wall) for short. Today the underground labyrinth is usually referred to as the Miedzyrzecz Underground Fortifications and the complex of dark concrete tunnels and corridors, munition chambers, barracks, and secret rooms, extend for more than 50 km, and are buried between 20 and 50 metres below ground. Many sections, tunnels and rooms were never finished or isloated from the main complex, and have never been entered since the end of the second world war. Some of the tunnels are so large that a two track, underground, narrow gauge electric railway, complete with stations, was able to run through the tunnels carrying personnel and munitions. A sophisticated water system was also put in place in the area. Various hydro-technical installations were constructed: dams, reservoirs, and drawbridges. Contingency plans were made to flood large sections of the area should it become neccessary.
Hitler himself visited the fortifications, south of Miedzyrzecz, in 1935. However, the construction was halted of these eastern fortifications in April 1938, when it was decided that defensive positions in the east of Germany were in fact unneccessary. At this point the basic structure of the MFR was almost finished. In the middle years of the war, when the war was being fought far to the east of the MFR, some parts of the fortifications and the underground areas were turned to "civilian" use. Aeroplane motor repair shops and a warehouse for Luftwaffe uniforms were set up. This work was done using forced labour and Soviet prisoners of war. Then again when things changed for the worse for Germany in 1944 some attempts were once again made to improve and extend the fortifications.
The system consists of bunkers with steel domes connected by underground tunnels. The walls of which were constructed of 3 metres of reinforced concrete and in places covered with 0.5 metres of steel. These fortifications are considered as the longest underground defensive complex in the world. The bunker system itself runs pretty much parallel to the Skwierzyna - Swiebodzin road. Only a small section is open to the public, for safety reasons, but there is a visitor centre between Kalawa and Boryszyn (a short drive from Miedzyrzecz), which is well worth a visit. During the summer and provided you're not afraid of the dark, you can even have a guided tour of the underground tunnel and bunker system, and see the enormity of the construction for yourself. Even in the relatively small area served by the visitor centre, guided tours can last for anything between one and six hours. Oddly enough, the underground system maintains a stable temperature of +10° C all year round, so the only equipment necessary for a visit to this part of the complex might be a torch!
Entering the tunnels without the help of a guide can, however, be hazardous. A few years ago a female visitor slipped when entering one of the bunkers, and fell to her death down a 50m deep shaft.
For many years rumours of treasure hidden in secret rooms within the tunnel complex led to many interesting features being removed for sale as scrap. Some gold and other precious metals were even discovered. And some locals claim that the famous Russian 'Amber Room' lies undiscovered somewhere in this maze of tunnels and rooms.
Part of the bunker system is now home to 30,000 bats, and a nature reserve called Nietoperek bat reserve has been established there.
Other remnants of German fortifications and military structures (bunkers, dams, canals, sluices, bridges) can also be seen in the Międzyrzecz area; and the headquarters for the troops involved in the construction and defence of the defensive line can still be seen in Keszyca Lesna.
Miedzyrzecz Underground Bunker and Tunnel System, Poland
Former German Province: East Brandenburg / Neumark / Posen
Polish Province : Lubuskie
Nearest City: Gorzów Wlkp
Nearby Villages and Towns: Bledzew; Bobowicko; Boryszyn; Bukowiec; Chycina, Glebokie; Gorunsko; Gorzyca, Kalawa; Kalsko; Keszyca; Keszyca Lesna; Kursko; Lagow; Lubniewice; Lubrza; Miedzyrzecz; Nietoperek; Nowa Wies; Nowe Gorzycko; Lubikowo; Obrzyce; Paradyz; Pieski; Pszczew; Rokitno; Skwierzyna; Sokola Dabrowa; Staropole; Stary Dwór, Swiebodzin; Templewo; Trzciel; Wojciechowo; Wolstzyn; Wysoka; Wyszanowo; Zemsko; Zbaszyn
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