Paul Reed: Exploring the Secret Wehrmacht Bunker

Getting prepared for new battlefield experiences is all part of the work Battlefield Guides carry out in readiness for the tours we do for Leger Holidays.

When there are new tours we always go out on a Battlefield Recce to check the fine details and make sure it all runs smoothly for when we have the groups with us. It’s all part of the professionalism with which we all approach how we operate Leger Battlefield Tours.
I was recently in Germany on such a Battlefield Recce with fellow Battlefield Guides David McCormack and Bill McQuade for the new Peenemunde, Baltic Coast and Berlin tour, which has its first departures this summer. This promises to be an excellent tour looking at different aspects of Third Reich history from the ‘Strength through Joy’ site at Prora to the development of secret weapons at Peenemunde, which will include for the first time having access to the actual rocket test stands and launch sites.

Zossen-Wünsdorf

However, one of the highlights of this Recce was our visit to Zossen-Wünsdorf to the site of Oberkommando der Wehrmacht: the Headquarters of the German Wehrmacht. The Wehrmacht wasn’t just the German Army: it was the overall governing body of the Army (Heer), Airforce (Luftwaffe) and Navy (Kriegsmarine). All of these had personnel at Zossen in a massive series of underground bunkers and tunnels.
While some wartime planning was done here, it was in essence the wartime communications hub of the Wehrmacht, a site once buzzing with the orders, commands and information relating to every key battle in the war from Poland to Stalingrad to the final battles.
Zossen-Wünsdorf

Zossen-Wünsdorf is a ‘book village’ where there are a large number of second-hand bookshops, and we started our tour there with the group that runs the bunker site. Our guide took us in through the main gate, dating from Cold War days, but which immediately put us into the heart of the above ground bunkers.
These all resemble houses as they were used to disguise the site as a residential area; in reality they were the way into the underground structures used by the various branches of the Wehrmacht. Some had been damaged in bombing but most had been blown by the Russians. They stand as decaying monuments to the failure of the Thousand Year Reich.
Cold War entrance door at Zossen-Wünsdorf

From here we went through the woods to the entrance of the main underground section. Initially we went through some Cold War period doors, which were amazing in their own right, and then into what was the entrance area during WW2.
It was very wide and when we questioned this, it was so that small vehicles such as Kubelwagens could drive in and enter the lift to take them to the lower levels. It was at this point we began to get an idea as to how big this site was!
From here we made our way through the tunnels, rooms and corridors. Because of occupation as a Soviet Airmobile Headquarters during the Cold War, the site is in very good condition and easy to access: it is fully lit and there are easily manageable stairs. No crawling through tunnels or roping down holes! Health and safety on these visits is something we do have to think about as Battlefield Guides!
Cold War remains at Zossen-Wünsdorf

As we made our way through the bunker site we got some sense of the importance of it and also the scale, and just how modern it was. Having an integrated internal messaging system, it had the WW2 equivalent of email whereby everyone in the complex could message others through a message pod system powered by compressed air! Anyone in the complex could speak to any headquarters on any battlefield.
As you walk the corridors you just wonder what it must have been like when the surrender at Stalingrad came through or when it was clear the fronts in both East and West were collapsing.
Message pod system at Zossen-Wünsdorf

Coming back outside from the Wehrmacht Bunker we realised we had been underground for well over an hour, seeing a site not normally open to the public because of the safety issues and which we know will fascinate those who travel with us on this new tour that focuses on many areas of WW2 history we have not been able to discuss in such depth before.


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Paul Reed, our Head Battlefield Guide, will publish regular blogs including personal stories, new tour updates and plenty of interesting and factual information about the Battlefields of Europe and beyond. Sign up below and receive email alerts keeping you up to date with Paul’s blogs.

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Best live events to catch in 2017

With some of the best live events of 2017 in our programme, if you’re looking for a trip with a little more than just stunning scenery, we’ve got you covered.

From high-speed action at the famous European F1 circuits, to the classical concerts of Andre Rieu and Andrea Bocelli and the grand finale of the Tour de France. We’ve got something for everyone looking for a live experience that will stay in your memories for a lifetime. But don’t just take our word for it, take a look at what to expect from the best live events of 2017, and see what takes your fancy…

Formula 1


After a Mercedes dominated season – which saw the now retired, Nico Rosberg finally beat Lewis to become the 2016 world champion – what can we expect from the 68th round of the sport?
With twenty races on the calendar this year, new regulations being introduced and new owners- Liberty Media, following Bernie Ecclestone’s departure after forty years running the sport- we’re sure to be in for a thrill.
New Year, new start, new regulations, yes, yet again we see major car updates coming into play. In 2017 the cars look a lot meaner, thanks to the wider tyres and revised bodywork. They’re also expected to be a lot faster, with teams hoping to take up to five seconds off their current lap times!
As well as regulation changes, there has also been a stir in the driver line ups. After an extremely extended ‘silly season’, which saw Nico Rosberg retire mere days after winning his first, and, well, only, championship, we were all left to wonder who would join his team mate Lewis at the mighty Mercedes.
With the likes of Fernando Alonso and Pascal Werhlien being rumoured to secure the seat, Toto Wolf and his team decided that the Finish driver, Voltari Bottas was the man for the job.
We also have some new-comers entering the sport, such as the likes of Stoffel Vandoorne, former GP2 champion, replacing the now retired Jenson Button at McLaren. And, with drivers like Max Verstappen already being one to watch, along with the uncertainty of how teams such as Ferrari and Red Bull will fare with the new car updates, we’re in for some ‘edge of the seat’ excitement and brilliant on track battles.
Will we see a shake up on the grid and will the Silver Arrows finally be thrown from the top spot? Although, at the moment, it’s a difficult question to answer, if the results of the pre-season testing are anything to go by, Ferrari certainly look like the team to watch, with Williams and Red Bull not far behind.
Wanting to see how the season will play out? Why not join us on one of our European F1 tours, and witness the on track action first hand.

Andre Rieu


The King of Waltz has inspired a generation with his beautiful music, but it’s his sheer love for his fans and his adoration for what he does that draws people in their millions to concert halls and arenas, all over the world.
Best known for creating the waltz-playing, Johann Strauss Orchestra, his early fascination with orchestra began at the tender age of five, when he first started playing the Violin. From then on he followed his love of music through school, studying under the likes of Herman Krebbers. But it wasn’t until university that he decided to pursue the waltz, and boy are we glad he did!
Forming in 1987, it’s no wonder that the Johann Strauss Orchestra’s range of work is astounding. And, over the years they have turned classical and waltz music into a worldwide concert touring act.
Providing fans with an evening of spectacular showbiz, humor and audience interaction, Rieu’s ability to speak six different languages allows him to tap into the local feel of the place that he is performing so that each and every concert has an intimate feel, which you would struggle to find anywhere else!
So, if you’re looking for an evening filled with beautiful music and utter and sheer joy, then you do not want to miss out on one of Andre’s concerts.  With Vienna on our programme for 2017, enjoy an evening with the King of Waltz, on one of our fully escorted tours.

Moto GP


After an exhilarating 2016, with a total of nine different race winners, fans from all over the world have been left wondering just how the 2017 season is going to play out.
With over half of the twenty-three drivers starting the season in new teams, we’re ready to see familiar faces in new places. With Lorenzo’s move to Ducati meaning that he and his two main rivals, Marquez and Rossi, will all be riding for three different manufacturers, we’re sure this season will make for an exciting watch.
Over the last three years, Marquez, Rossi and Lorenzo have finished first, second or third in the championship, albeit, not always in the same order. But, it wouldn’t be a surprise for any of us if the trio were to pull it off again this year. It’s certainly no guarantee that Marquez will be able to retain the championship that he regained last season, but, with such a strong field, we couldn’t possibly guess who will come out on top this season.
One thing we can say, with the preseason testing already underway, Rossi’s team mate Maverick Viñales, certainly looks like one to watch this year, posting some of the fastest times in testing at the moment. Rumoured to be the next big thing in Moto GP, he was a rookie in the Moto GP class last year with Suzuki, and could potentially be a threat to the triumphant trio.
New to our program this year, we are offering guests the opportunity to join the action at Assen, on our first, fully escorted, Motogp weekend break.
Redesigned in 2003 to comply with safety regulations, the original Assen track was built in 1955 (not including the road circuit that was first used to host racing in 1925), and had a length of 7705 metres. Part of the redesign involved shortening the track, which now has a length of 4555 metres, extending gravel traps and adding in a mixture of flat out and slow corners to make the racing more varied and exciting. However, there is one part of the original track which remains unchanged, and since it was first built, the location of the finish line has remained in exactly the same spot.

Andrea Bocelli


Registered blind after a footballing incident aged just twelve, there was no stopping Bocelli, who was already a confident musician. Having learnt how to play the piano, saxophone, trumpet and guitar, to name a few, the Italian is also blessed with a tone that is versatile and powerful, and which ultimately led to his big break in 1992.
This came after a tape of him singing, fell into the hands of arguably one of the most popular classical artists in history, the one and only, Pavarotti. They went onto perform a duet together, which led to Bocelli becoming a household name throughout Europe, and then the world.
Since his initial success he has gone on to record fifteen solo studio albums and nine complete operas, selling over 80 million records worldwide! With massive hits, such as ‘Time to say Goodbye’, a star on the Hollywood walk of fame and a Golden Globe to his name, it’s no doubt that Bocelli is a classical music legend.
In 2006, helped by funds from the star himself, his home town commissioned the opening of the Teatro del Silenzio. Named the Theatre of Silence, the Italian open air amphitheater remains literally silent all year. However, on one spectacular night each summer, the Tuscan hills of Lajatico are brought to life, as Andrea Bocelli returns to his home town, with an abundance of famous guests, to provide fans with an evening of moving music, in the warm evening breeze. And this year, you could be there, too, as we head off to Italy for this incredible Tuscan show.

Tour de France


This year, the Tour de France 2017 will return to Germany for the first time in thirty years, as the Grand Départ gets underway from Dusseldorf.
The 104th round of the sport will see the riders being put to the ultimate test, as the men are separated from the boys, when they tackle Frances’ five mountain ranges, Vosges, Jura, Pyrenes, Central Massif and Alps, in that order.
Before they actually reach France, though, they will have to tackle the tough roads of Belgium and Luxembourg. From there they will spend many days enduring various different terrain, gradients, and time trials etc., before the traditional final day in Paris, with the finish along the Champs Elysee.
In 2017, join us in Paris and witness the grand finale of what is thought to be one of the most diverse and exciting routes the Tour has seen in years. With the likes of Chris Froome, who can climb with the best of them, being poised for the win again this year, it certainly is an exciting event to witness.
 
But, which live event has you all geared up for 2017? Let us know in the comments!