Today’s walk is an unusual one. It takes place in the mountains surrounding Zurich but the main purpose of the visit is the Second World War shelters which are hidden in the middle of Uetliberg.
It was cold and foggy, probably like one of the days when Swiss soldiers had to dig holes into the icy grounds to build shelters some 70 years ago.
For today’s 4-hour tour, we were suitably equipped with heavy-duty winter hiking-shoes, warm underwear, thick gloves and even a thermos of hot chocolate! Our equipment turned out to be a bit exaggerated but the “freezing cold to the bones” bunker walk in the town of Zurich a few weeks ago left its mark.
Mr. Christian Egloff, Vice President of the Shelter Protection Association started the tour with a group of over 20 people of all ages and origins.
The shelters we visited were all built in 1943 by 10’100 Swiss soldiers to prepare for a likely German invasion during the Second World War. Following General Henri Guisan’s order, the soldiers were moved close to Uitikon and worked for 10 months, painfully, to build these commando posts, shelters defense points and hospitals.
Fortunately, the German did not pass the Swiss border and these shelters were not used and soon abandoned.
While walking in the forest and in the mountains, these shelters were visible and they remind us of the past of the war in Europe.
We get to the first shelter. Its entrance is next to the walking path and near houses in Uitikon. The inside was meticulously built with bricks and is still in surprisingly good condition.
This shelter was equipped with two bicycles so that one can pedal to create electricity!
Next we entered one of the unfinished shelters. The wall was sandstone and in the corner were unused bricks to furnish. This shelter was quite large with two exits and complex corridors. An ancient tortoise fossil was apparently found during the excavation.
At the end of the tour, we relaxed with a hot chocolate in front of the former ammunition storage building, which is now used as a storage for fireworks.
We were happy to understand another little piece of Swiss history and happy also, that these shelters were not used in the end!