Maybach I and II

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Coordinates: 52°11′36″N 13°28′24″E / 52.1934°N 13.4733°E / 52.1934; 13.4733

A telephone exchange of the complex, 1942

Maybach I and II were a series of above and underground bunkers built 20 kilometres south of Berlin in Wünsdorf near Zossen, Brandenburg to house the High Command of the Army (in Maybach I) and the Supreme Command of the Armed Forces (in Maybach II) during the Second World War.[1] Along with the military fortress complex Zossen, Maybach I and II were instrumental locations from which central planning for field operations of the Wehrmacht took place, and they provided a key connection between Berlin’s military and civilian leadership to the front lines of battle.[2] The complex was named after the Maybach automobile engine.

Zeppelin[edit]

Telecommunication service Zeppelin on 25 August 1939 before the Polish campaign

The Zeppelin bunker was erected by the Reichspost on the orders of the Oberkommando der Wehrmacht at the end of the 1930s.[3] The bunker was built between 1937 and 1939 in the area of the so-called Stalag (German: Stammlager) as a signal Intelligence centre. The code name for the bunker was Amt 500.

The structure consisted of a two-lane longitudinal building with measurements of 117m × 22m with an associated three-storey annex measuring 57m × 40m. After several project changes, a third entrance was added in 1938. Called the Reich Post Building (German: Reichspostgebäude), it could be accessed by light trucks, directly above the extension with a stairwell and an elevator. A south tunnel (German: Südstollen) connected the bunker with Maybach I and II to the southwest.

Maybach I[edit]

A bunker designed to look from the air like local housing

Maybach I was built starting in 1937. In December 1939, it was fully operational.[4] The complex consisted of twelve three-storey buildings above ground designed to look from the air like local housing,[5] and two floors of interlinked bunkers with two-foot thick walls below. Deeper in the subterranean levels of Maybach I, there were wells for drinking water and plumbing, air-filter systems for protection against gas attacks, and diesel engines to keep the system operational.[6] Later the site was further camouflaged by the use of netting.

Photograph of a map of the layout of structures at the military complex at Zossen: Maybach I

Maybach II[edit]

Maybach II was completed in 1940 and was of the same design with eleven surface buildings.

Incriminating evidence left by the conspirators of the 20 July plot against Hitler was discovered at Maybach II in a safe at Zossen. Among the documents reportedly uncovered were excerpts from the diary of Wilhelm Canaris, conspiratorial correspondence between Abwehr agents, information on the secret negotiations between the Vatican and members of the originally planned (1938) coup d’état, data on the resistance activities of Lutheran minister Dietrich Bonhoeffer.[7]

World War II[edit]

Between 15 and 17 January 1945, Oberkommando des Heeres (Supreme High Command of the German Army - OKH) moved into Maybach I. The army general staff moved their quarters into Maybach II.[8] During 1945 the site was heavily bombed by both the British and Americans, including a raid on 15 March that injured Chief of the Army General Staff Hans Krebs.[9]

An air-raid shelter of the Spitzbunker type

On 20 April the Soviet 3rd Armoured Guard Army threatened the HQ near Zossen. Gen. Krebs asked Hitler for permission to leave and destroy the important items. By the time Krebs received permission, it was too late to destroy anything.[10] Midday 20 April the OKH evacuated to Eiche near Potsdam and OKW to Krampnitz, and the Russians arrived in the afternoon, finding the site empty apart from four German soldiers.

Cold War era[edit]

The two Maybach bunkers were largely destroyed by the Soviet Armed Forces in late 1946, according to the stipulations of the four-power agreement on the occupation of Germany and an Allied Control Council order, although some buildings survived, including the almost entirely intact separate communications bunker Zeppelin. The Zeppelin bunker later formed part of the Soviet Cold war era installations in Wünsdorf under the name Ranet. Further bunker installations were subsequently added to house the central command and communications functions of the Soviet Army in the GDR. The area was demilitarised in 1994 when the last Russian troops left Germany.

Present day remains and exhibition[edit]

The ruins of the above-ground bunker entrance houses remain. The area can be accessed by guided tours, and a museum in the Wünsdorf Book Town houses exhibits on the military history of the town and the bunker complexes. Some parts of the underground complex of Maybach I remain accessible through the ruins of the entrance buildings, together with the neighbouring communications bunker Zeppelin, while Maybach II has been nearly obliterated.

References[edit]

  1. ^ Le Tissier (1996). Zhukov at the Oder: The Decisive Battle for Berlin, p. 20.
  2. ^ Kaiser (2007). Vom Sperrgebiet zur Waldstadt: die Geschichte der geheimen Kommandozentralen in Wünsdorf und Umgebung, pp. 100-101.
  3. ^ Hans-Georg Kampe (June 1999). Nachrichtentruppe des Heeres und deutsche Reichspost: militärisches und staatliches Nachrichtenwesen in Deutschland 1830 bis 1945. PV. ISBN 978-3-932566-31-8. Retrieved 30 July 2017. 
  4. ^ Kaiser (2007). Vom Sperrgebiet zur Waldstadt: die Geschichte der geheimen Kommandozentralen in Wünsdorf und Umgebung, p. 94.
  5. ^ Kaufmann, Kaufmann, & Jurga (2003). Fortress Third Reich: German Fortifications and Defense Systems in World War II, pp. 163-164.
  6. ^ Kaufmann, Kaufmann, & Jurga (2003). Fortress Third Reich: German Fortifications and Defense Systems in World War II, p. 164.
  7. ^ Von Hassell, Agostino, Sigrid von Hoyningen-Huene MacRae, & Simone Ameskamp. Alliance of Enemies: The Untold Story of the Secret American and German Collaboration to End World War II, p. 254.
  8. ^ Joachimsthaler (1999). The Last Days of Hitler: The Legends, The Evidence, The Truth, p. 79.
  9. ^ Beevor (2003). Berlin: The Downfall 1945, p. 151.
  10. ^ Joachimsthaler (1999). The Last Days of Hitler: The Legends, The Evidence, The Truth, p. 79.

Bibliography[edit]

  • Beevor, Antony. Berlin: The Downfall 1945. New York: Penguin Books, 2003.
  • Joachimsthaler, Anton. The Last Days of Hitler: The Legends, The Evidence, The Truth. London: Brockhampton Press, 1999.
  • Kaiser, Gerhard. Vom Sperrgebiet zur Waldstadt: die Geschichte der geheimen Kommandozentralen in Wünsdorf und Umgebung. Berlin: Links Verlag, 2007.
  • Kaufmann, E., H. W. Kaufmann, and Robert M. Jurga. Fortress Third Reich: German Fortifications and Defense Systems in World War II. Cambridge, MA: De Capo Press, 2003.
  • Le Tissier, Tony. Zhukov at the Oder: The Decisive Battle for Berlin. Westport, CT: Praeger, 1996.
  • Von Hassell, Agostino, Sigrid von Hoyningen-Huene MacRae, & Simone Ameskamp. Alliance of Enemies: The Untold Story of the Secret American and German Collaboration to End World War II. New York: St. Martin’s Press, 2006.

External links[edit]