Unseen pictures from inside Hitler’s Berghof ruins

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The Berghof began as a much smaller chalet called Haus Wachenfeld, a holiday home built during the first World War by Kommerzienrat Otto Winter, a businessman from Buxtehude. This was located near the Platterhof, the former Pension Moritz where Hitler had stayed in 1922–23. In 1928, Winter’s widow rented Haus Wachenfeld to Hitler and his half-sister Angela came to live there as housekeeper, although she left soon after her daughter Geli’s 1931 death in Hitler’s Munich apartment. By 1933 Hitler had purchased Haus Wachenfeld with funds he received from the sale of his political manifesto Mein Kampf.

The small chalet-style building was refurbished and much expanded during 1935–36 by architect Alois Degano when it was renamed The Berghof. A large terrace was built and featured big, colourful, resort-style canvas umbrellas. The entrance hall “was filled with a curious display of cactus plants in majolica pots.” A dining room was panelled with very costly cembra pine. Hitler’s large study had a telephone switchboard room. The library contained books “on history, painting, architecture and music.” A great hall was furnished with expensive Teutonic furniture, a large globe and an expansive red marble fireplace mantel. Behind one wall was a projection booth for evening screenings of films. A sprawling picture window could be lowered into the wall to give a sweeping, open air view of the snow-capped mountains in Hitler’s native Austria. The house was maintained much like a small resort hotel by several housekeepers, gardeners, cooks and other domestic workers.

The Obersalzberg was bombed by hundreds of British Lancaster bombers, including aircraft from No. 617 Squadron RAF (“The Dam Busters”), on 25 April 1945, twelve days before the surrender of German forces on 7 May. At least two bombs struck the Berghof. On 4 May, four days after Hitler’s suicide in Berlin, departing SS troops set fire to the villa. Only hours later, the U.S. 3rd Infantry Division arrived at Berchtesgaden along with the French 2nd Armoured Division.

The first Allied military unit to enter the village  of Berchtesgaden and Hitler’s home the Berghof, on April 26, 1945 was the Anti-Aircraft / Tank Battalion 910 attached to the 101st Airborne Division.

These photographs were made by Eric Abels, who served as a Head linguist in the Army Air Intel’s secret unit P. O. Box 1142. His group were with the 101st Airborne Division when they got to Hitlers compound.

Hitler’s Berghof in ruins

Hitler's Berghof in ruins. (Credits: Eric Abels)

Hitler’s Berghof in ruins. (Credits: Eric Abels)

The Berghof before the war. (Credits: L. Ammon)

The Berghof before the war. (Credits: L. Ammon)

The "Great Hall" of the Berghof

The “Great Hall” of the Berghof (Credits: Eric Abels)

How the "Große Halle" ("Great Hall") of the Berghof, Obersalzberg looked before the destruction. (Credits: Bundesarchiv)

How the “Große Halle” (“Great Hall”) of the Berghof, Obersalzberg looked before the destruction. (Credits: Bundesarchiv)

Inside the Conference Room of the Berghof (Credits: Eric Abels)

The giant window of the Great Hall of the Berghof (Credits: Eric Abels)

It's said that on a clear day, Hitler could see four countries from this window: Germany, Austria, Italy, and Switzerland. (Credits: Eric Abels)

It’s said that on a clear day, Hitler could see four countries from this window: Germany, Austria, Italy, and Switzerland. (Credits: Eric Abels)

The giant window in the Great Hall, Berghof. (Credits: TIME)

The giant window in the Great Hall, Berghof.

View into the Great Hall

View into the Great Hall

Is it the entrance to the Great Hall? (Credits: Eric Abels)

Is it the entrance to the Great Hall? (Credits: Eric Abels)

View from one of Hitler's & Eva Braun's bedrooms. (Credits: Eric Abels)

View from one of Hitler’s & Eva Braun’s bedrooms. (Credits: Eric Abels)

References:
Summary made of the page Berghof on Wikipedia

Read more:
Read more on P.O. Box 1142 (secret military facility) or on Operation Paperclip.

Literature:

Argunners Magazine is looking for relatives or veterans of P.O. Box 1142, feel free to make contact!

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Argunners Magazine is an independent online historian and collector's magazine, dedicated to the militaria and history of both Axis and Allied powers during the World War 1 & 2. Argunners is a central resource offering the latest militaria and war history news, journals, articles and press releases related to these themes.

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