Berchtesgaden and Obersalzberg




Cycling into Berchtesgaden, a town in southern Bavaria on the border with Austria, with its slightly-altered Nazi flag greeting visitors. Although Berchtesgaden itself is nestled in a deep valley, it lent its name to Adolf Hitler’s retreat, officially known as the Berghof, on the Obersalzberg, 1,640 feet above the town. Also perched on the Obersalzberg were chalets occupied by Hermann Göring and Martin Bormann, among other top-ranking Nazis. To all appearances a large holiday retreat, the Berghof was often used by Hitler for important conferences, including that with Austrian chancellor Kurt von Schuschnigg in February 1938, compelling him to accept Anschluss, and the meeting with prime minister Neville Chamberlain in September 1938, in which Hitler presented his demands with regard to Czechoslovakia. A network of bunkers and air raid shelters existed under the Berghof, and a private elevator, its shaft cut through solid rock, connected it with Hitler’s sanctum sanctorum, “Eagle’s Nest,” at the very top of the mountain. The Berghof proper was destroyed in an Allied air raid in April 1945, and the building’s ruins were razed in 1952. A stand of trees was planted on the site. The Eagle’s Nest survived the bombing and is now a teahouse, which may be visited by tourists.
Berchtesgaden bahnhof
In front of the station and Hitler's own private entrance, constructed in 1940
The Duke of Windsor, formerly HM King Edward VIII, arriving in 1937 just outside the main station (the current tourist information office directly behind) before reviewing a squad of ϟϟ with Robert Ley and meeting Hitler at the Berghof for a two-hour audience with the Führer in which the Duke supposedly made no secret of his admiration of Hitler. As early as 1933 Edward is reported to have declared that “Germany’s internal affairs are its own business. Dictators are very popular these days, and we might want one in England before long.” To Hitler's mind,
His successor, the weak and ill-prepared King George VI, was wholly in the grip of his "evil and anti-German advisers." When Edward, now Duke of Windsor, visited Berchtesgaden in October 1937 he told Hitler much that confirmed this view. Unfortunately, the record of their meeting would also vanish from the files captured in 1945. Hitler's War (46)
Although the trip of course was not an official state visit, the Germans gave it all the trappings of one. Royal biographer Andrew Morton describes Wallis as being treated like a royal princess: “In Germany members of the aristocracy would bow and curtsy towards her, and she was treated with all the dignity and status that the duke always wanted.”  She and her husband were given the adulation the pair thought they deserved but were never given in Britain. David Irving writes
Learning that the Prince of Wales - shortly to become King Edward VIII- had urged closer links between the British Legion and comparable German ex-servicemen’s organizations, Göring cabled him from Berchtesgaden: “As a front-line soldier, I thank Your Royal Highness from the bottom of my heart for the up- right and chivalrous words . . . With humble duty to Your Royal Highness, Hermann Göring.” He received the prince’s “warm thanks,” but when a British Legion delegation did come to Nazi Germany that July, they were profoundly impressed by Adolf Hitler and not at all by Göring. Out at Carinhall he talked to them only about himself. “He can be described,” reported Captain Hawes, RN, who had been naval attaché in Berlin, “as a mountain of egotism and pomposity.”

The station preserves much of the Nazi era on its façade, from the iron eagle-shaped motif on a window to the swastika-removed wreath above a door.
Hitler's Berchtesgaden train station
 At the rear of the station this seemingly innocuous door served Hitler's personal use as an entry into his own reception area shown on the right during the American occupation in 1945 and today.
Many of the frescoes too are retained from the Nazi era.
 
Around the corner the swastika from the fresco on the façade of the post office has been airbrushed away.

A troop of SA men at the fountain in the main square
Already on February 14, 1922 Adolf Hitler spoke here on July 1, 1923 "About the Future of our People". Before that, Hitler visited the Obersalzberg for the first time in May 1923 in order to meet his mentor Dietrich Eckart in the mountain ski house Obersalzberg (formerly Pension Moritz, later Hotel Platterhof). Arrested in Munich a week after the Hitler Putsch , but soon discharged after severe heart attacks, Eckart succumbed to a heart attack in Berchtesgaden at the end of 1923. In autumn 1923 an armed clash took place in Reichenhall and Berchtesgaden between patriotic and communist groups of North German KPD people.  On July 9, 1932, the day of the national Reichstag election, Hitler took the parade of 3,000 Bavarian and three thousand Austrian SA men during the "Greater German Day" in Berchtesgaden. Once in power in March 1933, members of the communist party were arrested in Berchtesgaden on charges that the KPD had supported the Reichstag fire. Despite its political symbolism, Berchtesgaden only suffered a limited air raid on April 25, 1945. Apart from minor damage to infrastructure and buildings, almost no war damage occurred. 
 
The fountain replaced with a snow sculpture to celebrate the Skimeisterschaften in 1934
 Hitler reviewing SA men in July 1932 and at the approximate spot today.
 
Standing in front of the war memorial in the schloßplatz and during the war; note the replacement of the depiction on the right celebrating the killing of Soviet soldiers that has been replaced with one showing a dead German shown below.
 
The Nazi standard replaced with the holy red ensign at the back of my bike
 
When the American GIs of the 3rd Infantry Division arrived, shown on the right riding an M10/M36 tank destroyer in April 1945.
 
This railroad tunnel is dated 1940; the Nazi eagle has been removed from the inscription. It was here where Hermann Göring heard of the BBC broadcast from London that Rudolf Hess had landed in Scotland, telephoning Hitler with the news.  Never used for its intended purpose, it instead served as the hiding place for one of Göring's personal trains stuffed with much of the art he had looted. David Irving writes in his biography of Göring (31) that  
Sadly, his personal papers were looted from his private train at Berchtesgaden in May 1945, among them the two war diaries that he wrote in August 1914, a private diary kept intermittently between September 1916 and May 1918, and five flying logs recording all his flights from November 1, 1914, to June 1, 1918; one of these private diaries is known to be in private American hands, but the owner has refused to let anyone see it.
At the grave of Dietrich Eckart in the town's cemetery. One of the founders of the Deutsche Arbeiterpartei, which later evolved into the Nazi Party, Eckart was a participant in the 1923 Beer Hall Putsch and is credited with coining the Nazi motto Deutschland Erwache. Hitler dedicated the second volume of Mein Kampf to him.
Dietrich Eckart, twenty-one years older than Hitler, was often called the spiritual founder of National Socialism. A witty journalist, a mediocre poet and dramatist, he had translated Ibsen’s Peer Gynt and written a number of unproduced plays. In Berlin for a time he had led, like Hitler in Vienna, the bohemian vagrant’s life, become a drunkard, taken to morphine and, according to Heiden, been confined to a mental institution, where he was finally able to stage his dramas, using the inmates as actors. He had returned to his native Bavaria at the war’s end and held forth before a circle of admirers at the Brennessel wine cellar in Schwabing, the artists’ quarter in Munich, preaching Aryan superiority and calling for the elimination of the Jews and the downfall of the ”swine” in Berlin. ”We need a fellow at the head,” Heiden, who was a working newspaperman in Munich at the time, quotes Eckart as declaiming to the habitues of the Brennessel wine cellar in 1919, ”who can stand the sound of a machine gun. The rabble need to get fear into their pants. We can’t use an officer, because the people don’t respect them any more. The best would be a worker who knows how to talk ... He doesn’t need much brains . He must be a bachelor, then we’ll get the women.” What more natural than that the hard-drinking poet should find in Adolf Hitler the very man he was looking for? He became a close adviser to the rising young man in the German Workers’ Party, lending him books, helping to improve his German – both written and spoken – and introducing him to his wide circle of friends, which included not only certain wealthy persons who were induced to contribute to the party’s funds and Hitler’s living but such future aides as Rudolf Hess and Alfred Rosenberg. Hitler’s admiration for Eckart never flagged, and the last sentence of Mein Kampf is an expression of gratitude to this erratic mentor: "one of the best, who devoted his life to the awakening of our people, in his writings and his thoughts and finally in his deeds.”
Shirer (35-36) The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich
At the grave of Hitler's sister Paula, his only sibling to have survived childhood. Their relationship has been described as rather distant and Paula Hitler never considered moving to Munich. In 1929, Hitler ordered his niece Geli Raubal, who lived with him, to invite the whole Hitler family to the that year's Nazi rally in Nuremberg although none of his relatives was allowed to join the Nazi party nor given any official functions or offices. In 1936, Paula Hitler attended the Olympic Games in Garmisch-Partenkirchen during which time her brother instructed her to use the surname Wolff. Later at the Bayreuth Wagner Festival she was presented as Paula Wolff; Hitler did not mentioned her as his sister. After the 1938 anschluß Paula Wolff witnessed her brother's speech on Vienna's Heldenplatz. Newly discovered interrogations of the former Soviet Ministry of State Security reveal she became engaged to Erwin Jekelius, one of the main leaders of the Nazi euthanasia program in Austria and directly responsible for the murder of more than four thousand disabled people. When she asked her brother to agree to the planned marriage, he declined, determining who was allowed to approach his family and who was not. Indeed, Hitler had the doctor arrested who was forced to sign a commitment to break off the connection before eventually being sent to the Eastern Front and died in Soviet captivity in 1952. After the war Paula Wolff was taken into custody in Berchtesgaden by the American occupation forces and interrogated. Besides doubting the enormity of her brother's crimes, she emphasised the sadness that had caused her death. This was further noted in a 1958 interview by the British documentary filmmaker Peter Morley in which she said "I do not think my brother ordered the crimes that were done to countless people in the concentration camps - or that he knew about those crimes at all. I have to speak well about him, he's my brother. He can not defend himself anymore." On December 1, 1952 she moved as a welfare recipient into a 16 m² small studio in Berchtesgaden, where she lived until her death of cancer on June , 1960. 
American troops moving into Berchtesgaden. A platoon from the 7th Regiment’s Battle Patrol entered the town at the head of the 1st Battalion at 15:58. There were some German soldiers in the town, but they were in no mood to fight. Isadore Valenti, a medic with K Company, wrote how ".50-caliber machine-gun carrying jeeps and half tracks took up positions inside the square, bagging the entire enemy force in one quick move." Valenti and his company captured two thousand enemy soldiers. The streets in Berchtesgaden, according to Major Rosson, "were lined with German officers and a few noncommissioned officers and other ranks as well. The officers were in their grey long coats, with side arms and baggage, awaiting orders." Among the prisoners was Hermann Göring’s nephew Fritz who presented himself to German-born Colonel John A. Heintges, the commander of the 7th Infantry, who had come into town with the 1st Battalion and proceeded to set up his command post in a small hotel. Heintges later recalled how he had "surrendered to me in a typical military fashion. He took off his belt with pistol and dagger and handed it to me in a little ceremony in the square right in the middle of Berchtesgaden." 
After the surrender Göring and Heintges went into a local Gasthaus and split a bottle of wine. Heintges then asked Göring why he remained in the town. "He said that he had been left behind to turn over his uncle Hermann Goring’s administrative headquarters and all the records." The headquarters turned out to be a complex of one-story buildings; inside were the records for the Luftwaffe. Heintges later inexplicably gave the French 2nd Armoured Division occupation rights over the Obersalzburg, including the Berghof. By the time he and his men attempted to drive into the complex, the French prevented him, declaring themselves the victors. Despite having taken the area, the Americans had left behind nothing to prove that the 7th Infantry had done so, thus allowing others to believe themselves to be the conquerors of the Berghof. This has continued up to this day with the HBO series Band of Brothers claiming that the 101st Airborne Screaming Eagles had appropriately captured it the Eagle's Nest.
Leaving Berchtesgasen for the route up to the Obersalzberg is this non-descript building which had served as the guard post monitoring all who would go past to the Führer's main residence. Virtually unchanged, it has kept its date on the wooden façade, if not the Nazi eagle. 

Obersalzberg

Nazi Obsersalzburg
Hitler first came to the Obersalzberg in the spring of 1923, on a clandestine visit to Dietrich Eckart, a fellow Nazi and important figure in Hitler’s rise to prominence, who was hiding on the Obersalzberg to escape a court order. Hitler immediately fell in love with the scenic area and came back on a regular basis. When he was released from prison after his putsch of 1923, he withdrew to Berchtesgaden to dictate the second volume of Mein Kampf. In the late 1920s, Hitler rented a house on the Obersalzberg that he later bought and expanded into an imposing residence, the so-called Berghof, which served as the de facto seat of government when he was present. For Hitler, the Obersalzberg was a retreat from the demands of the ministerial bureaucracy, a place with- out self-important bureaucrats who constantly disturbed his bohemian lifestyle. In addition to Hitler’s residence, numerous buildings were built to provide for the Fuehrer’s comfort and security,whereas the local population was forced to leave, often without proper compensation. Hermann Goering, Albert Speer, and Martin Bormann also built personal homes in close proximity to the dictator. Martin Bormann was the driving force behind construction on the Obersalzberg, and his fervour soon moved far beyond mere necessities. A trained farmer, Bormann set up a farm on the Obersalzberg intended as a model for the prospective colonisation of Eastern Europe. However, the enterprise was a blatant failure, and the farm ran up a huge deficit because of the harsh environmental conditions. 
 
Overlooking Berchtesgaden from the Berghof after the war with Easy Company. Major political acts took place here on the Obersalzberg: in February 1938, Austrian chancellor Kurt Schuschnigg arrived at the Berghof in a vain attempt to fend off the annexation of his country; half a year later, Chamberlain visited Hitler’s mountain resort for negotiations that led to the Munich agreement of September 1938, the culmination of Chamberlain’s ill-fated appeasement policy. It was on the Obersalzberg that Hitler drafted instructions to the German Wehrmacht for the invasion of Poland; on June 6, 1944, Hitler slept on the Obersalzberg whilst Allied forces were landing in Normandy. Hitler left the Berghof for the last time on July 14, 1944.

The Berghof
 Hitler on the Berghof terrace from a still from Eva Braun's home movies and the site today. The Berghof was the country house of Adolf Hitler on Obersalzberg - today a district of Berchtesgaden.  It was built in 1916 as the Landhaus Wachenfeld for a north German merchant. From 1928 the country house was Hitler's rented holiday home. After the seizure of power in 1933, he bought it and gradually began to expand it by the architect Alois Degano , then Roderich Fick to the Berghof, his prestigious residence.  It then formed the core of the Führer-Sperrgebietes Obersalzberg, which became the second seat of government with the construction of the so-called Kleinen Reichskanzlei  in 1937 and the airport Reichenhall Berchtesgaden. Overall, Hitler spent about a third of his reign on the Berghof, a total of almost four years. International diplomats and politicians came to negotiations to Berghof.  The building was severely damaged shortly before the war by Allied air attacks. In 1952, the Free State of Bavaria blew up the building. The Obersalzberg documentation, which is located not far from the former Berghof site, is the link between local and overall Nazi history.
 In 1937 Hitler received the Duke of Windsor after his abdication as King Edward VIII along with his wife Wallis Simpson. Apparently, the ex-king wanted to offer as a representative for an international peace initiative based in Hitler's ideas. On February 12, 1938, Austrian Chancellor Schuschnigg and State Secretary for Foreign Affairs Guido Schmidt signed the Berchtesgaden Agreement under massive pressure. On September 15, 1938, during the Sudeten crisis, Chamberlain was negotiating on the Berghof. On January 5, 1939, Hitler met the Polish Foreign Minister Józef Beck. On August 20, 1939 he telegraphed Stalin and submitted to him the non-aggression pact. The Ustasha leader Ante Pavelić was on a state visit to the Berghof on June 6, 1941.  Many domestic political decisions were also made at the Berghof- on August 22, 1939, Hitler made a speech to the commander-in-chief of the Wehrmacht - later known as the " Genghis Khan speech " - in which he announced the attack on Poland. When Henriette von Schirach spoke to Hitler about the deportation of Jews during a visit in 1943, according to contemporary witness statements, she was no longer invited to the Berghof. After the suppression of the uprising in the Warsaw Ghetto Himmler came to a meeting on June 19, 1943, on which the conversion of ghettos into concentration camps and the murder of those unable to work was decided.

In the summer of 1935 Hitler had decided to enlarge his modest country house into one more suitable for his public duties, to be known as the Berghof. He paid for the project out of his own money, but that was nothing but a gesture, since Bormann drew upon other sources for the subsidiary buildings, sums disproportionately greater than the amount Hitler himself provided.
Hitler did not just sketch the plans for the Berghof. He borrowed drawing board, T-square, and other implements from me to draw the ground plan, renderings, and cross sections of his building to scale, refusing any help with the matter. There were only two other designs on which Hitler expended the personal care that he applied to his Obersalzberg house: that of the new Reich war flag and his own standard as Chief of State.
Speer (85) Inside the Third Reich
GIF: Berghof today
 The remains of the Berghof in April 1945 and today. For a long time, the area of the Führer Sperrgebiet on the Obersalzberg had been spared from air raids. On April 25, 1945, five days before Hitler's suicide, four-engine bombers of the RAF Bomber Command targeted the Berghof and its surroundings. After the air raid only the Berghof itself was actually damaged. On May 4, 1945 the 101st US Airborne Division and the 3rd US Infantry Division occupied Berchtesgaden without a fight. Before their arrival the ϟϟ had set fire to the damaged Berghof, and the population plundered the building. According in May 1945, including Hitler's sister Paula Hitler provisionally in custody. Hitler's book collection and other preserved private items were confiscated. After successful negotiations between the Americans and the Free State of Bavaria, part of the Obersalzberg, which included the Berghof ruins, was returned to the Free State of Bavaria in 1951 on the condition that the ruins of the Berghof and the Goering House were levelled. On April 30, 1952, exactly seven years after Hitler's suicide in Berlin, the ruins of the Berghof were blown up and the area reforested. After the Americans had completely handed over the Obersalzberg to the Free State of Bavaria in 1996, the construction of a permanent exhibition was commissioned as a "place of learning and remembrance" not far from the Berghof property.
Nazis on the Berghof terrace
HITLER HAD RETURNED to the Berghof, high above the little Alpine town of Berchtesgaden, early on February 6, 1938. It was here that he always came when he had to ponder the path ahead. Ever since he had first been driven up the rough mountain paths on the pillion seat of a motorbike, he had been in love with this Obersalzberg mountainside – a green ridge straddling lakes and pine forests, velvet pastures and dairy herds. Here in the late 1920s he had purchased a cottage with the royalties earned by Mein Kampf and articles published under a pseudonym by the Hearst Press and the New York Times in America. Around this cottage he had built his Berghof. The air up here was clean and pure. ‘Fresh air is the finest form of nourishment,’ he would say.
David Irving, Hitler's War, p.99
In fact,  Uekoetter writes in The Green and the Brown (32) that
Hitler on the Berghof terrace
Hitler on the Berghof terrace
Hitler’s mountain retreat on the Obersalzberg near Berchtesgaden, one of the most scenic parts of Bavaria, did not imply an emotional attachment to nature. For Hitler, the Alpine scenery was little more than a backdrop to show himself against and a refuge from the ministerial bureaucracy in Berlin. “He had no eye for the beauty of nature,” Ernst Hanfstaengl, a close associate of Hitler in the 1920s, wrote in his memoirs, describing Hitler as “a city person who only felt at home on cobblestones.” While Goering, one of only three senior Nazis allowed to own a house on the Obersalzberg, went on hiking and climbing excursions in the nearby Watzmann mountain range, Hitler never sought to explore the Obersalzberg on foot. Because he abhorred physical stress, Hitler’s walks on the Obersalzberg always led gently downhill to a special tea house, where a car was waiting to carry him back up again. In Mein Kampf, Hitler was full of praise for the merits of physical training, but he obviously made an exception for himself.             

The view from the Great Window from metres away today. The main windows of his Berghof residence offered a panoramic view of the Untersberg, a mountain right on the border between Germany and Austria. Thus, the mountain symbolised the unification of the countries that Hitler achieved with the Anschluss of 1938, and in one of his wartime monologues, Hitler referred to this view as illustrative of his longing for the Austrian Heimat. But there was a second story that was even more troubling. A local legend had it that the Untersberg was the seat of the dormant Charlemagne, who was waiting, together with his heroic army, for a time of awakening. When the right time had come, Charlemagne would emerge from the Untersberg and reunite the German nation. With fantasies about a German awakening ripe after  defeat in the Great War, it is not difficult to imagine the associations that the story evoked in the interwar years, and it is little wonder that Hitler liked the tale. Living across from the Untersberg Mountain, he saw fulfilling Charlemagne’s mystic mission as his personal goal.
If Hitler looked left while standing on his porch, he would see the Watzmann, a mountain range that was even more imposing than the Untersberg. The legend about the Watzmann took place in an age of giants, when king Watzmann, a cruel ruler and enemy of peasants and herdsmen, went hunting with his family. His chase brought him to a family that was peacefully watching its gazing animals. The king’s dogs attacked and killed the family and the herd, while the ruler watched the murderous scene with boisterous pleasure.
But then thunder arose, and the dogs, thirsty for blood, turned against king Watzmann and tore him and his family apart. Their bodies turned into stone and became what is today the Watzmann mountain range. The tale clearly mirrored the perpetual conflicts between the nobility and the peasantry over the former’s hunting privileges in the premodern era, but it is also open to a more current interpretation. After all, the story implies a clear-cut indictment of tyranny, along with the promise that a tyrannical ruler would ultimately face a just revenge. It might be a good idea, for the citizens of Berchtesgaden, to tell this story more often. 
  Uekoetter  (182-183) The Green and the Brown

The view from the Berghof during the war and after with Easy Company. 
 The remains of the Berghof today, with the only notice as to the history of the site anywhere

Drake on top of the retaining wall behind what would have been the dining room
Standing on top of a water storage tank with Drake on the right inspecting debris around the area, including, atop, an access point for electricity cables
Next to the Berghof was the Hotel zum Türken, used during the Nazi era as the former base for the Leibstandarte-ϟϟ Adolf Hitler; today with Drake Winston on the right standing guard within the watchtower which continues to serve the entrance to the building.
 Hitler in front of the hotel at the turn towards the Berghof. On the right his personal photographer Heinrich Hoffmann can be seen, camera in hand, in the centre.
One of Hoffmann's photographs used to great effect to humanise Hitler, shown in Nazi propaganda as being responsible for tens of thousands children’s lives. Hoffmann himself was worldly, unlike many of the top Nazis. He spoke English well, had a son-in-law whose mother was American, and maintained an office in England until the outbreak of war. As Steven Heller wrote, Hoffmann was also a nasty drunk, which surprisingly didn’t seem to bother the teetotal Hitler who allowed Hoffmann total access until 1942 or 1943 to Hitler, even being given possession of the precious Hitlergebiet pass, allowing entry to exclusive fêtes on the Obersalzberg only issued to those at the highest levels. Hoffmann was also given total discretion over who used his photographs and was given licence to sell Hitler’s images to any printers and publishers he deemed suitable. However, his dominion was not only over photographic images; rather a large percentage of various Hitler souvenirs were sold through his catalogues and licensed to other retailers. Hoffmann was also a close friend of Wilhelm Ohnesorge, Minister of the Post, who allowed him to establish the system whereby Hitler was paid a royalty for each time his likeness was used on a German stamp. He managed to craft a plan under which Hitler received a royalty every time his face was published on anything from postcards to posters. No wonder that in1938 Hitler appointed Hoffmann ‘Professor’ out of respect for his artistic sense and business acumen.

What was left of the Türken and as it appears today with Drake Winston. Its existence today is due entirely to the owner’s daughter, Therese Schuster Partner, who moved into the ruins after the war in order to reclaim the property her family had been forced to sell by Bormann. Her father had been critical of the Nazi takeover of the Obersalzberg which ruined his business, and he joined the majority of his neighbours who were forced to sell out to the Nazis and leave the area in late 1933. The building was first used by the ϟϟ-Führerleibwache, Hitler’s personal bodyguard. Bormann later assigned the building to the Reichssicherheitsdienst (RSD), the high-level Security Service responsible for Hitler’s safeguarding. In fact, the ex-hotel served as a headquarters for the round-the-clock ϟϟ guard detachment, and also as a telephone communications centre. Prisoner cells were maintained in the basement, above the bunker system which can still be accessed today. Despite being expelled by the American military authorities twice, by 1949 the family regained control. By the time the Berghof was blown up by the Bavarian government in 1952, the Türken was rebuilt and open for business as the only former private property on the Obersalzberg once again in the hands of the original owners.
American troops surveying the ruins. On April 25, 1945, an air raid levelled the Nazi installations on the Obersalzberg, and what was left of Hitler’s Berghof was blown up in 1952. The American military opened a hotel, “General Walker,” on the Obersalzberg, Bormann’s farm was transformed into a golf course, and though the goal to provide for the recreation of soldiers was paramount, the American presence on the Obersalzberg gave the German government a convenient excuse for not dealing with the area’s heritage. In fact, the American military did little in the way of exorcising the demons of the place, and even rebaptised the Kehlsteinhaus the “Eagle’s Nest,” despite the fact the eagle has traditionally served as a symbol of imperial power. However, facing up to the place’s history became crucial when the American military announced its withdrawal from the Obersalzberg in 1995, and the Bavarian government realised that the place called for sensitivity: simply replacing the military use with a civilian one was out of the question. It asked the Institute of Contemporary History in Munich to set up a museum to provide an account of both the place’s history and Nazi rule in general which led to the opening in October 1999 of the Dokumentation Obersalzberg which drew some 110,000 visitors in its first year alone-  testimony to the enduring public interest in the history of Nazi Germany. However, the ghosts of the past continue to haunt the place: when the Intercontinental hotel group opened a mountain resort on the Obersalzberg in 2005, it became one of the most publicised hotel openings in German history and certainly the most controversial. This is all the more remarkable because Inter-continental had conceived the hotel with sensitivity and painstaking diligence, avoiding any allusion to Nazi monumentalism or voelkisch splendour, and the management mandated a two-day training course for its employees so that they could answer the guests’ questions in a decent and proper way. Contracts provide for the instant discharge of employees involved in neo-Nazi activities, and house rules reserve a similar right with respect to guests. Yet whilst few observers offered an outright condemnation of the project, but many wondered whether the Obersalzberg was really the right spot for a cosy hotel.
Then and today, showing steps leading up to the former Landhaus Göring, constructed by Alois Degano- the first house in Berchtesgaden to have a 30 foot by 60 foot swimming pool in the yard.

Drake overlooking a so-called Moll bunker nearby the site. They were used as air raid shelters by ϟϟ soldiers as they patrolled the area and could accommodate two. Manufactured by the Leonhard Moll concrete company of Munich, according to Geoff Walden there were at least twenty-seven of these concrete shelters for the guard force in the Obersalzberg area. 
As the towns and cities crumpled in ruins, Göring vacationed at his mountain villa above Berchtesgaden, inferring that provided he did not bomb Churchill, the latter, being a gentleman, would not bomb him. That spring of 1943 he met only infrequently with his Führer, now recuperating himself from the winter’s ordeals only a few hundred yards up the Obersalzberg hillside and brooding upon Citadel, his coming great tank offensive at Kursk.
Irving (566) Göring: A Biography
Atelier Speer
The Atelier Speer, unchanged after seventy years
The residence of Martin Bormann, one of Hitler’s leading henchmen who would later become his private secretary and one of the most powerful figures in wartime Germany, then and at what remains of it today.
In addition to Hitler’s residence, numerous buildings were built to provide for the Fuehrer’s comfort and security, whereas the local population was forced to leave, often without proper compensation. Hermann Goering, Albert Speer, and Martin Bormann also built personal homes in close proximity to the dictator. Martin Bormann was the driving force behind construction on the Obersalzberg, and his fervour soon moved far beyond mere necessities. As a trained farmer, Bormann set up a farm on the Obersalzberg that was intended as a model for the prospective colonisation of Eastern Europe. However, the enterprise was a blatant failure, and the farm ran up a huge deficit because of the harsh environmental conditions.
          Uekoetter  (179) The Green and the Brown
 
An American soldier at the entrance to Bormann's tunnel linking his bunker to the Berghof's in May 1945 and Drake Winston today and how it appeared just before the remains of its arch were removed.
The Eagle's Nest (Kehlsteinhaus)
The site on June 1, 1945 when visited by American GIs and standing at the same spot today. In the summer of 1937, Martin Bormann had observed how his Chief liked strolling down to the tea pavilion; he decided to construct for the Fuhrer a new teahouse to rival any other in the world. That August Bormann had selected the craggy peak of the 5,500-foot Kehlstein, not far from the Berghof, and personally hammered in the marking pegs together with Fritz Todt. By September 16, 1938, this ‘Eagle’s Nest’ was finished. At 16.00 Hitler, Todt, and Bormann drove up to the new eyrie – Bormann proud, but Hitler sceptical. He had known nothing of Bormann’s surprise plan until it was too late to revoke; according to Julius Schaub, Hitler blamed it on Bormann’s folie des grandeurs, smiled indulgently, and let himself be persuaded that it would serve to impress foreign visitors.
Cycling up from Berchtesgaden to the Eagle's Nest along the road made by Italians; a formidable technical feat- passing through five tunnels and offering breathtaking views. It climbs a dramatic 1,300 feet in just under four miles. From start to finish, the entire construction project – including the road – was completed in just thirteen months. It was built under harsh conditions with machinery considered primitive by today’s standards and yet it still praised as a milestone in the history of road construction. Using layers of rock allowing for frost-free construction, heavy vehicles could use it without producing major damage- looking at the weight of the constant stream of tourist buses that make their way to the site on a daily basis, the road has had to withstand the total weight of about 4.2 millions of tonnes since 1960. The project concluded in August 1938, prior to its formal presentation to Hitler on his fiftieth birthday on April 20, 1939. Bormann had three thousand workers to carve the steep road in only thirteen months and to build this lofty retreat for the Führer’s fiftieth birthday. Perched at 1834m, the innocent-looking lodge boasts sweeping views across the mountains and down into the valley towards the Königssee. It turned out to be an exemplary case of the Nazis’ wastefulness: Hitler rarely visited the Kehlsteinhaus because of his vertigo, and the building served no military purposes, in spite of Allied suspicion to the contrary; to this day, English-language publications are available in the Berchtesgaden region which promise an account of “Hitler’s alleged mountain fortress."
Perched on top of the Kehlstein mountain, six thousand feet above the Nazi elite's Obersalzberg playground, the Eagle's Nest was a magnificent granite lodge built in the best vôlkisch style. Apart from its fireplace, a gift from Mussolini, and the carpet in the main hall, which had been sent to Hitler by the Emperor Hirohito, every part of it was of impeccably German origin. To get Hitler there, Fritz Todt - the builder of the Autobahnen and the Siegfried Line - had constructed a winding four-mile road up the mountainside, a remark- able feat of engineering in its own right, the more remarkable for having been partly built in the depths of the Alpine winter. A torch-lit pedestrian tunnel, more than 300 yards long, led to a sumptuous brass-panelled elevator, the shaft for which had been blasted out of the mountain's core. By these means the Fiihrer was elevated to the literal pinnacle of his power. From here it seemed as if the whole of Europe lay prostrate beneath his famously piercing gaze. If the Nazi empire was Mordor, then this was Sauron's Tower.
Sadly for Bormann, Hitler hated it. The tunnel to the lift made him claustrophobic and the outlook from the top gave him vertigo. But in one respect the Eagle's Nest provided inspiration, in the form of its magnificent view of the mountain known as the Untersberg. Here, according to legend, lay slumbering the twelfth-century Hohenstaufen Emperor Frederick I: Friedrich Barbarossa. It seemed an appropriate name to give to the most ambitious military operation - and the most bloody act of betrayal - of the twentieth century.
Ferguson (428-9) The War of the World

In summer and winter 1939 and under American occupation below, showing American GIs at the entrance to the 130 metre-long tunnel leading to the lift with 1938 foundation stone (weighing three tonnes) above.
Inside the 126 mile long tunnel, built from marble from Kaelberstein, to the lift, then and now.
The new road ended some way below the Kehlstein’s peak. A parking area had been blasted out of the rockface, into which were set massive bronze doors, topped with a granite slab reading ‘Built 1938.’ The doors swung open and the car drove on into the mountain along a 170-yard tunnel wide enough for two cars to pass. At the tunnel’s end was a circular vault not unlike a church choir: facing them were bronze sliding doors. Bormann invited Hitler into the windowless room beyond the doors – an elevator with walls of polished brass, mirrors, and upholstered chairs. They were lifted to the very crest of the Kehlstein.
As Hitler stepped out, he found himself looking over a view even more majestic than from the Berghof. Hitler spent an hour up here. He was in fact silently alarmed by the thumping of his heart at this altitude, and he was short of breath (this he told his doctors). On the next day, the seventeenth, he took Dr. Goebbels and his senior henchmen up to this mountaintop retreat and briefed them about the talks with Chamberlain – this ‘ice-cool,’ calculating Englishman. He expressed high praise for their propaganda effort, saying: ‘We’ve half won the war already.’ Goebbels was optimistic that Prague would buckle under the war of nerves, but Hitler disagreed. ‘In 1948,’ he explained, ‘it will be just three hundred years since the Peace of Münster. We’ve got to liquidate that peace treaty by then.’ He visited this lofty eyrie only once more over the next few days, and only seldom afterward. 
David Irving (120-121) Hitler's War

Furniture in lift waiting room (whose mortarless marble blocks come from Ruhpolding) that remains still whilst the lift itself sports brass walls. The lift is of solid brass and was designed by Professor Roderich Fick.
GIF: Scharitzkehlzimmer (Eva Braun Room)
Standing inside the Scharitzstube, also known as the Scharitzkehlzimmer or so-called Eva Braun Room, stripped of its RM 24,000 Gobelin tapestry. Arguably the most perfectly situated room in the house, the Scharitzstube featured two large picture windows facing towards the south and east, affording a stunning view of the Scharitzkehlalm – after which the room had been named – as well as the Königssee and the peaks of the Hohen Göll and Watzmann. Both these windows could be lowered almost completely, offering a completely unobstructed view outside. The room itself was panelled with rare cembra pine wood. The two windows could be lowered, offering a remarkable view of the Hoher Göll and the area around Königssee.  Its eastern door led to the long low-walled sun terrace through a series of five wide open arches which, whilst leaving the terrace exposed to the mountain climate and heavy winter snow, offered a stunning view of the Königssee and surrounding mountains by the unobstructed view below. Unlike Hitler, Braun used every opportunity to visit when the weather was good, having regarded the Berghof as her "golden cage" when she was required to disappear whenever official visits took place. Gerda Bormann and her nine children would often accompany her; Bormann apparently had requested that Braun praise the beauty and utility of the Eagle's Nest in Hitler's presence.
GIF: Eagle's Nest dining roomGIF: Eagle Nest's Grosse Halle
The dining room and large hall during Hitler's time, now serving as a restaurant. When Hitler first visited he objected to the impersonal manner by which the tables were arranged and so the seating was rearranged in September 1940 through the use of a two-piece table made of beech and walnut wood as well as smaller items of furniture. Its round table was made by the Pössenbacher company based in Munich for RM 1,888.00
GIF: Hitler's fireplace
Hitler and Eva Braun in front of the marble fireplace on the right, and Albert Speer, Gretl Braun and Christa Schroeder left before the fireplace. Speer recorded in Inside the Third Reich (342) how
I sat in the group at the fireplace as in the past, with him, Eva Braun, and his court. The conversation trickled along dully; Bormann proposed that records be played a Wagner aria was put on, and soon afterward Die Fledermaus.
 
The site of the June 3, 1944 reception after the wedding of Eva Braun's younger sister Gretl to ϟϟ-Gruppenführer Hermann Fegelein, later shot in the last days of the bunker On the bottom-right is Hitler's own painting of the room...
Hitler's paintings of Eagle's Nest 
...as well as his initial sketch of the tearoom and kitchen. These watercolours in fact appear similar to those produced by interior architect Heinrich Michaelis. The kitchen itself was used even though it was fully-equipped with state of the art facilities designed by Krefft, a 750-piece silver cutlery set crafted by Munich-based F. A. Wandiger (each carrying the “AH” monogram), and 450-piece porcelain dining set made by Germany’s celebrated Meissen.
 Hitler hosting the French ambassador to Germany, André François-Poncet, at the Kehlsteinhaus on October 13, 1938. From his post in Berlin starting in August 1931 when he was named under-secretary of state and ambassador to Weimar Germany, François-Poncet witnessed the rise of Hitler, and later observed the signs of Germany's plans for the Second World War. Shirer described him as "the best informed ambassador in Berlin", but the French government generally did not heed the ambassador's many warnings about Hitler's intentions. François-Poncet was inadvertently involved in the purge of the Night of the Long Knives when, in Hitler's justification for the killings, he referred to a dinner François-Poncet had attended with Ernst Röhm and Kurt von Schleicher as evidence that the men had been conspiring with the French to overthrow the German government even though François-Poncet himself was never named nor charged with anything. Shortly after the Munich Agreement was signed in 1938, François-Poncet left his post as French ambassador to Germany after this farewell visit to Hitler at the Eagle's Nest before being reassigned to Rome as ambassador to Fascist Italy, serving in that position until 1940 when Italy declared war to France. Arrested by the Gestapo during the wartime German occupation of France, François-Poncet was imprisoned for three years in the Tyrol within Itter castle. It was in Itter, two days before the war ended, that a battle was fought against the Waffen ϟϟ which was the only occasion when American and German forces fought on the same side during the war.
The terrace then and now, covered over by windows
Eagle's Nest

The Kehlsteinhouse shown on top, with what had really served as Hitler's teehaus below on the Mooslahnerkopf with the same site from my guesthouse at night, still eerily lit up.
 The Teehaus on the Mooslahnerkopf, built in 1937 just below the Mooslahnerkopf hill overlooking the Berchtesgaden valley below, was one of Hitler's favourite places on the Obersalzberg which he would visit daily whenever in the area. The company always marvelled at the panorama in the same phrases. Hitler always agreed in much the same language. The teahouse itself consisted of a round room about twenty- five feet in diameter, pleasing in its proportions, with a row of small-paned windows and a firereplace along the interior wall. The company sat in easy chairs around the round table, with Eva Braun and one of the other ladies again at Hitler's side. Those who did not find seats went into a small adjoining room. According to taste, one had tea, coffee, or chocolate, and various types of cake and cookies, followed by liqueurs. Here, at the coffee table, Hitler was particularly fond of drifting into endless monologues. The subjects were mostly familiar to the company, who therefore listened absently, though pretending attention. Occasionally
Hitler himself fell asleep over one of his monologues. The company then continued chatting in whispers, hoping that he would awaken in time for the evening meal. It was all very familial. 
Speer (89) Inside the Third Reich
    GIF: Hitler's teehaus
 The building survived the 1945 bombing, but was obliterated soon after the war with the ruins left in the woodland near the 13th hole of the neighbouring golf course until finally removed in September 2006. I'm sitting on its foundation over which the Bavarian government simply dumped a massive amount of cement over the entire site.
Hitler on the left with Eva Braun, Sepp Dietrich, Albert Speer and his dog Blondi and on the right with Ribbentrop.
On the highest point of the Obersalzburg above Berchtesgaden was the Adolf Hitler Höhe with the Untersberg behind. It read: "Wen Gott liebt, den lässt er fallen in das Berchtesgadener Land"
GIF: Gästehaus Hoher Göll The Gästehaus Hoher Göll, now the site of the Obersalzberg Documentation Centre which opened in 1999; by 2007 more than one million people had visited. The centre includes parts of the surviving bunkers and combines documents and exhibits, with a special focus on the involvement of the native population in Nazi policy. On display are a permanent exhibition and regularly changing exhibitions not limited just to events on the Obersalzberg, but about the entire Nazi era. It offers over 950 documents, photographs, audio clips, films and maps as well as a scale model of the Obersalzberg area overlaying current buildings with the position of historical Nazi installations. The exhibition covers the two floors of the main building and extends through the tunnel to the bunker. However, only a portion of it is dedicated to the history of the Obersalzberg itself, including a small section on the post-1945 era, when most of the area was used by the American military. The ground floor of the main building and most of the tunnel exhibits cover general topics of Nazi Germany, such as "The Fuehrer", "Actors in the Regime", "Machinery of Terror", "Resistance", "Foreign Policy" et cet. that are not directly related to the Obersalzberg resort. The path of the exhibition ends in a documentation of the Holocaust in the dark of the bunker. Only a part of the extensive shelter network is accessible today. There is also a link through a tunnel to the extended bunker complex at the demolished General Walker Hotel (former Platterhof), constructed in 1943-45:
 
Standing in front of the bunker entrance enclosed within the museum. It led to Hitler's Berghof and homes of other leaders.
Behind the door on the left is the entrance from the bunker to the Berghof itself whilst the photo on the right shows one of the hallways that went to the bunkers under Bormann's house and the ϟϟ barracks. Neither the tunnels nor the buildings exist today. The bunkers of Berchtesgaden and the Obersalzberg had been strengthened as part of the general reaction to the growing intensity of the Combined Bomber Offensive in 1943. Martin Bormann had personally directed the construction of air raid shelters and had tunnel systems cut deep into the mountain side. These tunnels linked Hitler’s bunker with the military headquarters and the local anti- aircraft defences and communications. These systems represented some of the most modern of the Nazi state. The party functionaries had palatial accommodations that were well-serviced by electrical power, heating and ventilation systems. They were even hardened against chemical weapons and the tunnel openings were protected by a series of machine gun nests manned by the ϟϟ. These bunkers and tunnel systems successfully protected the inhabitants of the Obersalzberg and Berchtesgaden in April 1945. Even though the damage to some of the village surface dwellings was extensive, the bunkers and tunnels – and the complex’s defensive capabilities – were largely intact with only 31 people were killed.
Reinforced walls contained the machine-gun defence
 
The Platterhof, with the Hoher Göll in the background. Of the former, Shirer wrote how
In 1923 Eckart and Esser stumbled upon the Platterhof, an inn near Berchtesgaden, as a summer retreat for Hitler and his friends. Hitler fell in love with the lovely mountain country; it was here that he later built the spacious villa, Berghof, which would be his home and where he would spend much of his time until the war years.   
GIF: Platterhof then and now
This would culminate, as Kershaw records, in one of several such speeches he gave between autumn 1943 and summer 1944 to a "sizeable number of generals and other senior officers, who had been participants in ideological training-courses and were ready to return to the front, [who] had been summoned
on 26 May in the Platterhof, the big hotel adjacent to the Berghof on the site of the far more modest Pension Moritz, where Hitler had stayed in the 1920s. A central passage in the speech touched on the ‘Final Solution’. Hitler spoke of the Jews as a ‘foreign body’ in the German people which, though not all had understood why he had to proceed ‘so brutally and ruthlessly’, it had been essential to expel. He came to the key point. ‘In removing the Jews,’ he went on, ‘I eliminated in Germany the possibility of creating some sort of revolutionary core or nucleus. You could naturally say: Yes, but could you not have done it more simply – or not more simply, since everything else would have been more complicated – but more humanely? Gentlemen,’ he continued, ‘we are in a life- or-death struggle. If our opponents are victorious in this struggle, the German people would be eradicated. Bolshevism would slaughter millions and millions and millions of our intellectuals. Anyone not dying through a shot in the neck would be deported. The children of the upper classes would be taken away and eliminated. This entire bestiality has been organized by the Jews.’ He spoke of 40,000 women and children being burnt to death through the incendiaries dropped on Hamburg, adding: ‘Don’t expect anything else from me except the ruthless upholding of the national interest in the way which, in my view, will have the greatest effect and benefit for the German nation.’ At this the officers burst into loud and lasting applause. He continued: ‘Here just as generally, humanity would amount to the greatest cruelty towards one’s own people. If I already incur the Jews’ hatred, I at least don’t want to miss the advantages of such hatred.’ Shouts of ‘quite right’ were heard from his audience."