We struggled , a little , with the translation of ” narrow-gauge ” as we drove out to one of Marcin’s secret spots to explore WWII artillery installations still around , but hidden . He told me to wear clothes that could get dirty because we’d be climbing into bunkers in the woods .
This was a German artillery location near the Baltic coast town of Swinoujscie . Before WWII it was the German city of Swinemunde . We went to a couple of seaside forts that protected the entrance to the River Odra . One was bulit in 1854 and the other during WWI . Both were used during the Second World War and are now museums .
The Germans had another facility a few mile away , hidden deep in a thick forest . That’s the place Marcin intended to show me . It’s still hidden deep in the forest . Marcin , the Polish soldier and WWII history buff , would be my guide . There were moments , I will report , when my guide stopped suddenly in his tracks , gazed up at the glitter of sunlight squeezing through the canopy of leafy trees , and paused . There seemed to be a Daniel Boone air about him for a few moments , I thought . Daniel Boone , an early American pioneer , was asked once if he’d ever been lost out in the wilds of Kentucky .. ” Never been lost , ” he said . ” I’ve been confused for weeks at a time ; but I’ve never been lost . ”
We had parked in a remote spot near rail tracks , had walked across the hiighway , followed abandoned railroad tracks until they came to an end a few hundred yards into the woods . Then we followed narrow-gauge tracks that had suddenly appeared far into the thick woods until we came to the first concrete .structure nearby .
We crawled around a few remnants of the cannon emplacement and ordinance bunkers . Narrow -gauge tracks ran from one bunker to another , from one gun emplacement to another , and to a concrete skeleton of a camoflage shed used to hide the ammunition train during air raids . .
Deep in the forest , each structure was hidden under hillsides and by now obscured further by trees and other vegetation . . Concrete air vent covers were about the only parts of the facility visible from above .
The guns fired shells far enough to protect the entrance to the river a few miles away . I don’t think any enemy navies ever attempted to come in ; they sent bomber groups instead ; but , hey , the Germans were ready .
The German Army later sent the guns from this place to Norway , to defend Nazi interests there during the war .Most of the tracks remain , although some lengths have been stolen by vagrants to be sold as scrap . The gun emplacements remained . The armory bunkers remain .Tiled walls and flooring have been invaded by water , then frozen during the cold winters and broken , cracked and destroyed beyond recognition .
Perhaps the ghosts of long-gone artillery soldiers still wander the forest , watching the skies as they run through drills and wait for action Perhaps they still inhabit these concrete rooms , maintaining a wartime diligence and discipline , saluting Hitler , and following orders .
There are several cdoncrete bunkers in that forest location . We saw a few . A few more are situated on a military reservation and , thus , off-limits . One that we passed was occupied by a cantankerous , formerly-homeless old goat of a fellow who doesn’t appreciate anyone , evidently , bothering his isolated concrete home . Marcin advised me that we steer clear of him unless we wanted to stir up trouble . Not what we came for , we both agreed , and we let sleeping dogs lie .