In the Owl Mountains (Polish Góry Sowie) in the south of Poland a complex of underground sites was under construction towards the end of WWII but never completed. Collectively known as Project Riese (Giant in German), the sites – eight in all - are just a few kilometres from the current border with the Czech Republic.
One of the sites is known as Die Glocke, German for The Bell, and also known in English as The Fly Trap. We approached the site through a derelict industrial setting that was once the Wenceslas Coal Mine and parked on the hillside by the most striking feature - a large concrete structure, around 30 metres in diameter and not unlike a modern Stonehenge.
This, according to some, was connected with the development of a secret German weapon which would have defied gravity. The supposed weapon was originally described by Igor Witowski and popularised by, amongst others, British Author Nick Cook. The alleged weapon was bell-shaped and according to Witowski “made out of a hard, heavy metal approximately nine feet wide and 12 to 15 feet high".
The immediate area operates as a small museum (Muzeum Mölke - named after the German name for the nearby town of Miłków) and there is a small collection of (mostly Soviet era) trucks and vehicles. More invitingly, an entrance to a tunnel led off on the uphill side of the area and it led to a couple of rooms – almost certainly originally guardrooms and now with some reconstructed displays. Continuing in, the passage was lined with posters of other ‘Terror Weapons’ to give credence to the site’s claim to fame. Then at a cross passage a steeply descending passage led down to what our guide assured us was the original coal mine. Along the side of this were supports for some seriously heavy-duty cables; whatever had been done on the site had certainly consumed some serious power.
Sadly we weren’t allowed to explore further – partially to try and prevent the access at a lower level being discovered and used by metal thieves to strip the site. So we retraced our steps and took a walk through to some extant buildings that may have served as barrack blocks or storage units. These had been built with an over-burden of soil which was originally grassed over to provide natural camouflage from aerial reconnaissance. The passage of years has resulted in a veritable forest growing atop the structures and this gave an unusual and almost contemporary feel to the site. As a reflection of the original standard of engineering, the roofs were still intact and watertight.
From the evidence seen, large amounts of power were expected to be used on the site. A direct connection with an active coalmine suggests the use of coal on site. Natural oil sources were increasingly scarce in wartime Germany, a major factor in the Nazi decision to invade the Soviet Union in 1941. Synthetic fuels were mainly produced from coal and it seems most likely that the site was destined to be a major production centre for synthetic fuel. It was run by Nobel who are also believed to have produced explosives on site; the henge structure is in fact almost certainly the base of a cooling tower.