Międzyrzecz Fortified Region, commonly called the MFR is a belt of fortifications built between 1934-1944 by the Germans in order to defend the eastern border. Barely a dozen kilometers from the border planned sealing areas between the Oder and Warta. And yes, all inlets between the lakes were fortified, on the ground surface faced bunkers (Panzerwerk) and underground combined into a single system of underground fortifications.
The original plan was to build 107 shelters, but the plan has not been completed. If they could finish building it would be the most powerful line of fortifications in the world. Germans managed to finish only central section, which has survived to this day. The fortification system was never armed nor used militarily. When the Russian army went to Berlin they drove the road next to the “dragon teeth” – special defenses designed to stop tanks. The cost of building the system was huge and exceeded several times the estimated budget. In the meantime, they changed strategy and used the underground for factory purpose to build aircraft engines, which were apparently more needed.
After the II WW the building was empty. Russians arranged here a training ground to have space for testing the weapons by blowing up various shelters in the air. They tried to deport metal parts, but fortunately without success. In the ’80s polish government almost created warehouse of radioactive materials here (what a concept!). Until the 90s the building was not used. Today, in the middle of the basement is a bat reserve, and wintering there more than 30,000 individuals.
MFR can be visited both on the surface and underground. Of course, the underground part is more interesting and is the main attraction of this place. You can see the size of whole fortification system. Underground can be visited with a guideonly, and we have to choose two points ground: in Pniewo and Boryszyn. We went to Pniewo. In Pniewo is a exhibition hall with museum of military equipment. Right next to the museum building Panzerwerk 717 is located which allows us to take steps to the underworld.
The guide told us mentioned a moment ago history of this place. Fortifications conceal many secrets. They were used, eg. to hide valuable porcelain. We heard a lot of interesting anecdotes related to the fortifications.
Underground has constant temperature in the range 9-12 °C. You should also bring a flashlight with you while exploring. Only small part of the corridor is illuminated. While visiting we have a choice of two routes: short and long. We decided on a long, because it’s not our first trip with children under the ground. In this way, both we and the children could get more on this advantage. We have got great guide that was telling us in a funny way about defenses. It is worth mentioning that we were extremely lucky as our guide the MFR was a man with a great passion for fortifications – Mr. Jacek Podemski, who leads the television program “No Trespassing.”
Children, thanks to such expeditions learnt a little of history, to know what a man is able to create. During our vacation in Denmark we have seen in Thyborøn fortifications built on the embankment of the Atlantic beach. Children brilliantly reminded of this fact when we visited MFR.
Above you can see the dragon teeth, a little disappointed Justine, who thought that he would find a real dragon.
You need to visit YouTube to see our video tour of the MFR trip: