Project Riese („Giant”) was one of the largest military enterprises during the Second World War. Between 1943 and 1945 the Nazis built numerous underground shelters and tunnels in the Owl Mountains. Riese Complex was supposed to cover more than 35 square kilometres with factories, military equipment and one of Adolf Hitler’s Headquarters at its centre.
The exact purpose of Riese Complex remains unclear even today. Most likely Germans needed to transfer all military infrastructures to safer place because of Allies air-raids and bombings. After checking multiple locations the Owl Mountains were chosen as the best place for this great project. Actually Riese Complex is mostly hidden underground. The documents of the Third Reich say that 257 thousands cube meters of reinforced concrete were used to built 213 thousands cube metres of tunnels. On this basis, it seems that so far about half of the underground corridors was not found.
One of the most important objects of Riese Complex is Ksiaz with Castle Fürstenstein, which was supposed to be transformed into a prestigious residence of Hitler. Castle was supposed to be reachable only by two levels of underground tunnels connected to the cellars of the fortress. The other important places are: Wielka Sowa, Moszna, Rzeczka, Jugowice Gorne – Jawornik, Wlodarz, Osowka, Sobon and Sokolec – Gontowa.
The construction work was done by nearly 30 thousands of prisoners from German concentration camps. Probably a few thousands of them were killed in the corridors Włodarz in the spring of 1945. However, this can not be checked, since 1/3 of the tunnels is flooded with water.
The Riese Complex hasn’t been finished before the war ended. Only 45% of the construction had been discovered. Few kilometers of tunnels and several other places are open for visitors. They are really worth seeing. When you enter the tunnels, you realize how unrealistic and megalomaniac was this Nazi project.