Geoff Walden

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Berchtesgadener Hof Hotel   

The Berchtesgadener Hof hotel had previously been the "Grand Hotel Auguste Victoria," popular with visiting royalty. The Nazis bought it in 1936, remodeled it and renamed it the Berchtesgadener Hof, and used it to house dignitaries visiting Adolf Hitler's Berghof, such as the Duke and Duchess of Windsor, British Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain, and David Lloyd George. High-ranking Nazis such as Josef Goebbels, Heinrich Himmler, and Joachim von Ribbentrop also stayed here, as did visiting military officers such as Erwin Rommel. Eva Braun lived at the Berchtesgadener Hof when she first came to Berchtesgaden, before moving into the Berghof. Later, Obersalzberg functionaries such as Martin Bormann's brother Albert lived here, as did Hitler's sister Paula (incognito, as Paula Wolf). After the U.S. Army occupied the area in May 1945, the Berchtesgadener Hof was the scene of several high-ranking surrenders, including that of Field Marshal Albert Kesselring.

The U.S. Army took over the Berchtesgadener Hof in 1945, and it was one of the show-pieces of the Armed Forces Recreation Center until 1995 (my father stayed here in 1946). The rear balconies and sun terrace were justly famed for their view of the mountains. Sadly, when the U.S. Army left in late 1995, the famed hotel was closed and locked, as it remained for several years until it was torn down in 2006, to make way for a new "Haus der Berge" museum of the mountains.

 

This luggage label from the Third Reich period shows the swastika flag flying from the hotel roof (see close-up on right).  (author's collection)

 

On the left, British Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain arrives at the Berchtesgadener Hof on 15 September 1938, prior to meeting Hitler in the Berghof during preliminary talks that led to the Munich Accords. On the right is a 1942 photo by Heinrich Hoffmann.  (Bundesarchiv)

 

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Under new management in 1945 - soldiers of the U.S. 101st Airborne Division try their equestrian skills on the streets of Berchtesgaden, as others guard the Berchtesgadener Hof doorway. On the right, a view of the entryway before the hotel was torn down in 2006.  ("The Epic of the 101st Airborne," 101st Airborne Division Public Relations Office, Auxerre, France, 1945)

 

In a rare color slide from the summer of 1945, soldiers from the 101st Airborne Division tour the Berchtesgadener Hof hotel.  (U.S. National Archives, RG342FH-A49863)

 

A close-up view of the sign over the main entrance shows that the letters originally had neon lighting. The same style of lettering (perhaps even the original letters) was retained in the word Hotel at the side of the entrance.  (still from a May 1945 U.S. Army movie; U.S. National Archives)

 

The Berchtesgadener Hof hotel as my father saw it in the early spring of 1946, and as it appeared in 2004.

 

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Rear sun terrace of the Berchtesgadener Hof hotel.  (period photos taken by my father in 1946)

 

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Views of the Berchtesgadener Hof from a postcard and a hotel pamphlet brought back by my father in 1946. Interestingly, this pamphlet shows a swastika flag flying over the hotel entrance, and it shows the hotel proprietor as Gotthard Färber, who ran the hotel under the Nazi administration and who became infamous for enforcing Martin Bormann's orders to evacuate the Obersalzberg homes and farms that were torn down in the late 1930s.

 

The Berchtesgadener Hof as lodging for officers in the 1950s, and as it appeared in October 2006, shortly before it was torn down.

 

Just inside the sun terrace doors was a large salon or parlor. On the left is a view from the 1945 hotel pamphlet; on the right is a view of this room just before the building was torn down in 2006.

This parlor room had its place in history when Field Marshall Albert Kesselring (seated at left)
surrendered the German forces under his command to the U.S. Army here in May 1945.
(U.S. Army photo, National Archives)

Speisesaal, or Dining Hall in the Berchtesgadener Hof.  (above left - 1945 hotel pamphlet, below left - period postcard)

 

The Weinstube or pub in the basement, from a period postcard (left) and as it appeared in September 2006 (right).

 

The central stairway, seen on the left in the 1945 hotel pamphlet. On the right is a view of the bottom of the stairway, just inside the main entrance, in 2006. The marble cladding was original to the Third Reich period.

 

On the left, the main reception desk just inside the hotel entrance. The stairs led up to the guest rooms. On the right is the modern kitchen in the basement.

 

Behind the main Berchtesgadener Hof hotel were the garage and maintenance buildings for the complex. These buildings, which survived the 2006 destruction of the main hotel buildings, appeared to be in the process of demolition in October 2011 (below) - the upper story of the garage building was already gone (although what's left of these buildings may be incorporated into the Haus der Berge).

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Beneath the maintenance building was the complex air raid shelter, a Luftschutzraum in the basement. This shelter contained original 1940-dated ventilation equipment by the Dräger company of Lübeck (fortunately, this historic original equipment was removed for preservation prior to the destruction of the hotel buildings). Note the standard metal bunker door.

 

The original data plate for the Dräger ventilation apparatus shows it was built in 1940. On the right is a Dräger gas vent - these simple weighted vents were designed to open under the overpressure of the ventilation system, but close automatically in case the system shut down.

 

Part of the original steam heating apparatus for the hotel, and the furnace room, beneath the garage building.

 

Two original items that could still be found at the site as the hotel was being torn down. An original Third Reich period lamp in the rear of the hotel, and a downspout pot, of the same style that could be found on the Platterhof hotel before it was torn down. Someone must have recognized the historic value of these two items, because they were gone in October 2011.

 

Views of the ruins as the hotel was being demolished in September 2006.

 

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All contents copyright © 2000-2014, Geoffrey R. Walden; all rights reserved.  All photos taken by or 
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This page initially uploaded on 20 July 2000.


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