My Mother and I visited the gorgeous city of Berchtesgaden in the far south east of Germany in 1972. I was 16. A beautiful place, surrounded by the amazingly scenic Bavarian Alps, but one that has somewhat of dark past…this area was once the playground of Hitler and the senior Nazi’s.
We stayed at the General Walker Hotel which was a troop hotel/barracks seized from the Nazi's and then turned into a vacation resort for American/Nato Military Personnel. We were there with our friends Army Chaplain Jim and Sue White. Being an Army kid had it's perks!
They demolished the General Walker Hotel and it is now a parking lot for visitors to the Eagle's Nest. I am so happy I had the great fortune to stay there. My mom thought the place was not very pretty, but to me it was like being in a WW2 movie.
Berchtesgaden, Bavaria, Germany...
It was an unbelievably beautiful area...I wanted to run around and sing the hills are alive with the sound of music... but I might have been blown up by landmines and stuff left over from WW2. One thing I remember is how the businesses all had tons of alabaster ornamentation. Door knobs, door stops, jewelry, you name it, everything was made of alabaster.
There were Verboten (forbidden) signs everywhere warning of old booby traps etc..
Das Kehlsteinhaus is the famous Teehaus (Teahouse in English) which was built on the Kehlstein mountain in the Bavarian Alps by the Nazis as a gift to Adolph Hitler for his 50ieth birthday. Construction was completed by September 1938, seven months before the building was officially presented to Hitler as a birthday gift on April 20, 1939 by the Nazi party. Widely known to Americans as The Eagle's Nest, the house is one of Germany's top tourist attractions and can be reached by a Tour bus from Munich.
The old photo above shows the east side of the Eagle's Nest with the patio that was added in the 1960's in the foreground. Taken in late Spring, the photo shows the yellow flowers of a sweet broom bush in bloom in the foreground. The tower in the center of the building is the Windenstube (Winch chamber) which houses the engine and the winch for the wire rope that lifts the elevator from the parking lot up to the building.
Entrance to tunnel which leads to the elevator up to the Eagle's Nest
The photo above shows the entrance to the tunnel that leads to the elevator up to the Eagle's Nest. The small stone building on the left was built after the war. Another tunnel, which runs parallel to the access tunnel, is a supply shaft for electricity and heating lines.
Originally, the bronze door to the tunnel had handles in the shape of a lion. Both of the handles were taken as souvenirs by Allied soldiers; one is now in the hands of the family of General Dwight D. Eisenhower.
1945: A USAAF P47 Thunderbolt overflies the ruins of the Berghof. In the background is the SS Barracks. The SS Barracks/Hotel became the Hôtel General Walker. The Kehlsteinhaus (Eagle's Nest) barely missed being sentenced to be dynamited off the mountain. Göering's house was just a flat area of grassy meadow with a small mound in the center.
The movie "War and Remembrance" showed scenes of events which actually happened at Hitler's residence, the Berghof, but were filmed at the Kehlsteinhaus. The term "Eagle's Nest" was allegedly coined by a group of World War I veterans who visited it at Hitler's invitation, and the name has always referred only to Hitler's Teehaus.
On April 25, 1945, 318 British Lancaster bombers conducted two attacks on the area. The homes on the Obersalzberg belonging to Martin Bormann, deputy chief of staff, and Herman Goering, were destroyed, along with Hitler's residence, but fortunately the bombs completely missed the Eagle's Nest. No one was killed in the bombing because none of the Nazi leaders were there and all the servants went into an underground bunker on the Obersalzberg, which is still open to visitors.
Das Kehlsteinhaus "Eagle's Nest"
Das Kehlsteinhaus was designed by architect Roderich Fick as a wooden frame structure, but it consists of 80% concrete, particularly in the area of the octagonal main hall or reception room. The outside walls, as well as the interior walls, are covered by a facade of granite stones, which gives the impression that the building is a solid stone structure. The granite stones came from a quarry near Passau.
This is what the Eagle's Nest looked like when I was there. Met some Army kids stationed in Greece and they desperately wanted to see SNOW...ugh...we walked forever to find it and this is basically what we saw.