| Nearly three miles long and burrowed out of more than 10,000 square feet of rock, this gigantic underground bunker built by Italian dictator Benito Mussolini is one of the most impressive structures of World War Two. |
The Mount Soratte tunnel complex, 27 miles north of Rome, was not only Europe's largest bunker but also one of the most mysterious - surrounded by rumours it still contains 75 tonnes of Nazi gold hidden by its later German occupiers.
Evacuation work began in the autumn of 1937, when Mussolini - known as El Duce - demanding the construction of a bunker reaching up to 300 yards underground to house the Italian government and generals.
Officials set up a 150-acre exclusion zone surrounded by barbed wire and spread rumours that the site was to house a factory for agricultural and military equipment, shrouding its true purpose in the utmost secrecy.
After Italy made peace with the allies on September 8th, 1943, the Germans invaded and took over the bunker as the headquarters of the Werhrmacht under the leadership of Field General Albert Kesserling.
During the Cold War period the bunker was turned into an anti-atomic shelter under NATO. It was to be used in case of a nuclear attack as a shelter for Italy's president and his closest assistants.
The Mount Soratte tunnel complex, 27 miles north of Rome, was not only Europe's largest bunker but also one of the most mysterious - surrounded by rumours it contains 75 tonnes of Nazi gold hidden by its later German occupiers. The stash has never been found, but rumours continue to swirl about its possible location deep underground
Evacuation work began in the autumn of 1937, when Mussolini - known as El Duce - demanding the construction of a bunker reaching up to 300 yards underground to house the Italian government and generals. Pictured is the entrance to the main tunnel, which was protected by a pair of heavy iron doors
Officials set up a 150-acre exclusion zone surrounded by barbed wire and spread rumours that the site was to house a factory for agricultural and military equipment, shrouding its true purpose in the utmost secrecy. Pictured is one of the operations rooms inside the giant complex
After Italy made peace with the allies on September 8th, 1943, the Germans invaded and took over the bunker as the headquarters of the Werhrmacht under the leadership of Field General Albert Kesserling. The Germans did not want the homeland of their former ally to become a stronghold for the allies. Pictured: A replica soldier sitting at a desk
During the Cold War period the bunker was turned into an anti-atomic shelter under NATO. It was to be used in case of a nuclear attack as a shelter for Italy's president and his closest assistants. Pictured on the left is the entrance of the bunker during construction work, on the right is the structure today, which now welcomes tourists
Albert Kesselring, pictured inside the bunker, was the German Luftwaffe Generalfeldmarschall during World War II and became one of the most highly-decorated Nazi commanders. He was tried for war crimes in 1960 and sentenced to death, but that later changed to life imprisonment. A political and media campaign resulted in his release in 1952, ostensibly on health grounds. He died in 1960 of a heart attack
A massive American bombardment by B-17 bombers of the bunker occurred on May, 1944, destroying the bunker's perimeter but missing the main structure itself. Pictured is a replica of a gas mask worn by an adult, and one that was used to protect babies
Two and a half miles long and burrowed from more than 10,000 square feet of mountain rock, this gigantic underground bunker built by Italian dictator Benito Mussolini is one of the most foreboding structures of World War Two. It was protected by weaponry including rockets, left, and tanks, right
An urban legend says that somewhere under the bunker lies 75 tons of gold bars that had been transferred there from the central Bank of Italy in Rome (the gold has never been found). This sign tells inhabitants of the bunker to stay silent
This notice painted on the brown concrete walls of the bunker orders passers-by to be quiet because 'the enemy are listening'. Nearly a thousand Nazis slept in the bunker after Italy's surrender and there were facilities including a restaurant and a theatre
The bunker was intended to shelter top-secret documents and people. Pictured is a World War Two tank inside the structure, showing that it also housed military equipment
Workers took four and a half years to excavate the bunker, working on eight-hour shifts starting at 6am in the morning. Locals were said to be happy about the construction work going on as it provided hundreds of jobs. Pictured: Shelves containing metal document boxes inside the bunker
These posters show a list of commands for Italians issued by Field Marshal Albert Kesselring, who took control of the bunker after the Nazis invaded Italy in September 1943. One of the commands listed on these pages says that Italy is now under 'German law'
This World War Two camouflaged tank points towards the commune of Sant’Oreste, which is perched on a nearby hill
This image shows the bunker's map room, where Italian Army commanders would plot troop movements against the Allies. It was later used by Nazi generals
Despite being the infamous founder of Italian fascism who allied with Adolf Hitler, tore up democracy and introduced a string of anti-Semitic laws to Italy, Mussolini is still lauded by some Italians on the far-right. Pictured: A rusting tank outside his bunker
Fascism has long left its mark on the country, with groups of so-called Ultras sporting extreme views that hark back to 1920s Italy taking to the nation's football terraces for several decades. But the cult-figure appears to have slipped back into mainstream public consciousness. Pictured: A guard post outside the bunker
During the last days of the war in Italy, Il Duce (the leader) - as Mussolini was known - was captured by partisans who executed him by firing squad. His corpse was mutilated and strung up by the feet alongside that of his mistress, Clara Petacci, at an Esso station in Milan. Pictured: A model plane hanging from the ceiling of his bunker
The bunker is a popular visitor attraction and includes displays of armaments from World War Two, which include a warning sign saying 'please do not touch'
The bunker is now surrounded by a nature reserve, rather than the hostile military no man's land that was used to protect it during the Second World War
There is plenty of equipment from the period remaining inside the bunker, including this First Aid box. However, the legendary gold bars are yet to be found
Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-5170995/Mussolinis-10-MILE-bunker-largest-Europe.html#ixzz514NXWHOi
Follow us: @MailOnline on Twitter | DailyMail on Facebook
The derelict military bunker at the centre of a German officer's botched plot to blow up Hitler will be opened to the public as a museum.
The Wolf’s Lair, located in the Masurian woods in northeastern Poland, has been open to the public since the end of World War II, but mainly for much criticised paintball games or as an indoor shooting range.
It was one of Hitler’s key military headquarters during the war. But is most famous as the place Colonel Claus von Stauffenberg tried to kill the dictator by placing a briefcase bomb underneath the table during a staff meeting on July 20, 1944.
New image: Tourists wander around the remains of the Wolf's Lair in Poland, which will now open as a museum to educate visitors about its history
The plan was to kill Hitler and replace him with a government which would negotiate a truce with the Allies, ending the war.
Having left the conference for a pre-arranged phone call, Colonel von Stauffenberg, whose fate was thrown back into the spotlight due to 2008 movie Valkyrie starring Tom Cruise, left the hut shortly before the bomb detonated. However, a staff officer had moved the briefcase shortly after von Stauffenberg’s departure which saw Hitler protected from the blast and the dictator survived with minor injuries.
Von Stauffenberg was captured and executed alongside three conspirators and all their relatives were sent to concentration camps.
A total of 200 were executed as a result of the assassination attempt.
Overgrown: Part of one of the derelict bunkers on the 600 acre complex which once had its own train station
Title: Wolf's Lair, Wolfsschanze in German, was named after Hitler's self-appointed nickname: Herr Wolff
Four months after the bomb, Wolf's Lair was destroyed by the Nazi forces as the Soviet Red army advanced in 1945. Soon after it became a tourist attraction.
Nearly 70 years later, due to lax legislation, tours of the overgrown bunkers have been less informative than the Polish Government see fit and tourists can even pose for photographs in Nazi uniforms.
‘At this moment, one does not feel the tragic dimension of this place,’ historian Tomasz Chinciski told The New York Times.
Wolfsschanze meeting: Adolf Hitler and Italian fascist leader Benito Mussolini, far left, in the Wolf's Lair listening to General Alfred Jodl, Chief of Staff of German Army
After the bomb: The aftermath of the assassination attempt at Wolf's Lair. Hermann Goering, pictured in a light uniform, inspects the wrecked room
Inside the lair: Hitler inside the Wolf's Lair shortly after surviving Colonel von Stauffenberg's attempt on his life
He is involved in the development of Wolf's Lair and underlines the importance of not forgetting its past.
He said: 'We need to work on new ways of telling history to make young generations want to learn it and understand it.'
The current lease of the premises is held by Wolf’s Nest, who have had the contract since the collapse of Poland’s communist regime.
Hiding place: One of the 80 buildings at the complex, which was built to protect Hitler from the Soviet Army during Operation Barbarossa in 1941
Critics have called their tours of Wolf’s Lair a 'grotesque Disneyland’ operation and have called for them to stop.
In a bid to profit from ‘Nazi tourism’, Wolf’s Nest, a private company, built a restaurant, a hotel and even an indoor shooting range located in the offices of General Alfred Jodl, a Nazi Army Commander sentenced to death at Nuremberg.
But due to the remote location, Wolf’s Nest have not had much success in luring tourists to the bunker and the 600-acre complex is in despair with overgrown buildings and pathways.
In an effort to re-build the bunker, Wolf’s Nest have agreed to work with historians, according to The Independent.
Two visitors at the Wolf's Lair scan a map of the area with explanations of the purposes for each building
Tour guide: The site plan reveals there were two casinos, a cinema, a sauna and two tea rooms
Poland’s Ministry of Culture and National heritage gave strict instructions to the company that no new lease would be granted unless the company meet educational requirements.
The hideout - whose name references Hitler's nickname, 'Herr Wolff' - consisted of 80 buildings at its peak including its own power plant and a railway station.
The complex, built in 1940, was heavily camouflaged and surrounded by a minefield, which took ten years to clear after the war.
Immortalized: The attempt to assassinate Hitler was brought to life in the Tome Cruise movie 'Valkyrie'
Never forget: A commemorative plaque in German and Polish reads ' In memory of the resistance against National Socialism'
In 1940 Churchill built a top secret army: a British resistance movement primed for a Nazi occupation. History tells us it was never needed – but a new movie imagines a very different scenario...
The secret tunnel that was home to some of Britain’s toughest troops
Revealing the hidden military BUNKERS cleverly blended into Switzerland's landscapes
The Swiss are mainly known for clocks, chocolate and skiing - but military guile can also be added to that list, as these amazing images show.
Photographer Leo Fabrizio, over a period of years, discovered remarkable camoflaged bunkers that blended into Switzerland's fields, mountainsides and woodland.
He said, as reported in polarinertia.com: 'The bunkers are an integral part of a finely developed popular defense military system in Switzerland, a military with historically strong links to the landscapes.'
Fabrizio, whose pictures of the constructions appear in 2004 book Bunkers, added: 'After the cold war ended many of the bunkers became obsolete. The tendency is to forget them or even to renounce them, my approach on the contrary, aims to expose them from a new angle.'
The Swiss were so determined to make the bunkers' cloaking effective that artists and theatre set designers were even brought in to oversee the assembly process.
Here we showcase some of Mr Fabrizio's images, which show that the Swiss truly were masters of disguise.
The Swiss are mainly known for clocks, chocolate and skiing - but military guile can also be added to that list, as these amazing images show
There is more to these concealed chalets than meets the eye, as they are not quaint lodges but military bunkers in disguise
The Swiss used artists and theatre set designers to ensure that the bunkers blended in with their surroundings
This bunker has been cleverly blended into a moutain rock face, with the door frame only just visible to the naked eye
Fabrizio said 'the bunkers are an integral part of a finely developed popular defense military system in Switzerland, a military with historically strong links to the landscapes'
The Swiss are known as expert clock makers, but these images show that their military guile is also noteworthy
Troops were able to hide in the bunkers knowing that their enemy would need to be extremely lucky to spot them
Many Swiss residents had no idea that there were hidden bunkers situated in the middle of their villages
A requirement of the chalets was that they could deceive the human eye at a minimum distance of 20 metres
Up close and it's clear that this is a bunker, but from a distance, it would be very difficult to determine its true purpose
Fabrizio's pictures appear in 2004 book Bunkers - a publication that took years to put together
Inside Mussolini's wartime bunker: First pictures of fascist leader's secret lair that he had built to protect him from RAF strike on his Rome headquarters
- Experts said the underground chamber was the dictator's 'last bunker'
- It was only discovered after engineers stumbled across an iron hatch
- Bunker contains nine rooms but was never finished before he was arrested
- The chamber, under the former fascist headquarters, will be open to public