Skeletons missing hands and feet found in Hitler's Wolf's Lair

WARSAW (Reuters) - Five human skeletons - all missing their hands and feet - have been discovered at Nazi leader Adolf Hitler’s eastern front military headquarters in present-day Poland, buried inside the villa of Luftwaffe commander Hermann Goering.

The bodies of three adults, a baby and an older child were discovered by a group called the Latebra Foundation, amateur archaeologists who have been excavating at the site with official permission for several years, group members and officials said.

"You'd never expect such things in such a place as it was ... the most guarded place in the Third Reich and after the war, the Russians took over this place," Latebra member Dominik Markiewicz told Reuters.

"Everyone wondered what might have happened there ... We tried to think of something, but nothing reasonable comes to mind," he said. "We didn't know what we were dealing with at all. Were they some occult rituals of Third Reich fanatics? We have no idea."

He added it was not clear whether the skeletons dated from World War Two, or had been buried there subsequently.

Sebastian Trapik, deputy head of education and tourism promotion of the Srokowo Forest District, the Polish government agency responsible for the site, told Reuters the bodies had been found buried just below the ground in a part of the building where there had once been a wooden floor.

Daniel Brodowski, spokesperson for the prosecutor's office in nearby provincial capital Olsztyn, said an investigation had been opened and forensic investigators had examined the bodies under police supervision.

The Wolf’s Lair served as one of Hitler's military headquarters during World War Two and consisted of some 200 structures covering an area of 250 hectares. It was destroyed by German Nazi forces as they retreated in early 1945 to prevent it falling into the hands of the approaching Soviet Red Army.

What is left of the bunkers, shelters and barracks in the forest of Gierloz in northeastern Poland can now be visited by tourists. The home of Goering, who ran the Luftwaffe air force and became Germany's highest ranking military officer and Hitler's designated successor, has largely fallen into decay.

"An unusual burial with strange features," Markiewicz said. "Without clothes... without hands and feet. And there were also minors... so we don't know what happened there. And the (Wolf's Lair) complex, the house, the Herman Goering villa are very telling too."

(Reporting by Anna Lubowicka; Additional reporting by Karol Badohal; Writing by Anna Wlodarczak-Semczuk; Editing by Peter Graff)