UNIVEM organized a visit to this very impressive site, located about 80 miles (130km) North-East of Paris.  245 bunkers are spread across the site.  We had a warm welcome from the association that maintains the site: the ASW2 (Association de Sauvegarde du W2).  Probably their greatest challenge is to keep the weeds out!

Hitler’s “Wolf’s Ravine”

The Margival camp was an important headquarter for the German Nazis, though not so much known nowadays.

« Wolfsschlucht 2 » (Wolf’s Ravine), W2 for short, has been built by the Todt Organization between 1942 and 1944.  22,000 workers were employed to build 450 bunkers, among them the one dedicated to Hitler himself.  It was also the most important German communication centre of WWII with a 108m (325ft) long building sheltering 600 phone lines.  Within a few minutes, Hitler could communicate with his armies anywhere in the world.

The site had been chosen because it was at equal distance of the large harbours of Northern France, it was close to a long railway tunnel that could hide and shelter a complete train, an existing high voltage power line could feed it, and it had also all sorts of needed natural resources like sand, water and limestone.

Hitler only came once, that was for the June 17, 1944 conference attended by Rommel and Von Rundstedt among many others.  It was a turning point in history.  Held shortly after the allied landing in Normandy, Rommel and Von Rundstedt tried desperately but in vain to convince Hitler that this was “The” landing, that there will be no other, and that subsequently it was of utmost importance to move the 15th Army from the North to Normandy.

While Hitler praised all day long at Margival his new weapon, the V1 bomb-rocket, to justify his tactic an incredible event occurred : a V1 rocket whose gyroscope was offset crashed and exploded at only about a mile away from W2, the same day Hitler was there !  Even more astonishing: the V1 fell close to the village of Allemant, which means German in French !

August 26, 1944, Hitler sent to General Hans Speidel who was based in Margival the order to raze Paris to the ground.  Hopefully, he disobeyed, thereby sparing Paris.

Discovered in 1944, the Margival camp became a NATO European transmission centre.  The, in 1968, it became a commandos training centre fro the French Army.  Afterwards it sunk in secrecy as a third world war was feared in the wake of the Cold War.  Eventually, the site was abandoned in 1996.

Today ASW2, the association that takes care of the site, welcome many visitors who enjoy:

  • Hitler’s bunker, soon to be restored according to 1944 documents,
  • the outdoor swimming pool,
  • the transmission centre,
  • the old infirmary where is displayed a model of the camp as it was in 1944,
  • vintage photos and documents, military artefacts,
  • a restored combat bunker with sound system that gives a taste of what daily life was like for the soldiers. 1200 pounds reinforced doors, eating and sleeping areas, machine gun),
  • the commandos training village,

Visit the ASW2 site at : www.asw2.perso.sfr.fr

Don’t miss the Facebook page : https://www.facebook.com/LE-RAVIN-DU-LOUP-2-visitez-le-grand-QG-dHitler-en-France-174306542620652/