Geoff Walden


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Other Berchtesgaden Area Buildings

   After the complex on the Obersalzberg assumed much greater importance in the Third Reich government, Hitler decided to build a second government seat in the Berchtesgaden area.  This second Reichskanzlei (Reichs Chancellery) building and complex was built in 1936-37 in Stanggass, just northwest of Berchtesgaden (the main Reichskanzlei being the monumental edifice in Berlin).  This Berchtesgaden Kanzlei was surrounded by a small complex of staff and security buildings, and served as a diplomatic center.  The U.S. Army took the site over in 1945, and it served as the Armed Forces Recreation Center headquarters until 1995. Since the AFRC Berchtesgaden closed down in late 1995, the complex stood empty for several years, the buildings locked. Around 2005 the Reichskanzlei complex was purchased by a private concern and renovated for apartments. In August 2008 a marker explaining the significance of the building was erected on the site.

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The Watzmann Mountain, symbol of the Berchtesgadener Land, towers in the background.  (top-left - period postcard; top-right - Dokumentation Obersalzberg; middle-left - Bayerische Staatsbibliotech; middle-right - courtesy Clarke Family Archives; bottom left - "Ich kämpfe," Munich, 1943; bottom-right - period painting)  (Google Maps link)

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On the left, a period postcard, with the corresponding view today.

       

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On the exterior, only the Hoheitszeichen national insignia (minus its swastika) remains of the former owners.  (Bayerische Staatsbibliotech)

 

Field Marshall Wilhelm Keitel greets Hans Lammers, chief of the Reichskanzlei, in front of the main entryway. The original light fixtures remain.  (U.S. National Archives)

 

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Allied forces use captured Nazi staff cars for transportation to their headquarters at the Stanggass Kanzlei complex, May 1945. Before the arrival of the U.S. Army, the Kanzlei staff had abandoned the complex and retreated to the Hintersee, west of Berchtesgaden.  ("The Epic of the 101st Airborne," 101st Airborne Division Public Relations Office, Auxerre, France, 1945)

 

The monumental aspect of the structure continued on the interior, with red marble columns and arched ceilings in the entry foyer (left above), and a large Great Room with a fireplace and decorative paneling. The light fixtures and some of the furniture pieces are original. On the left below, Hitler congratulates Generalfeldmarschall Wilhelm Keitel on his 40 years of military service in 1941, in front of the Große Halle fireplace.  (Bundesarchiv)

 

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Included in the Kanzlei complex were houses for Generalfeldmarschall Wilhelm Keitel, Chief of Staff of the Armed Forces, and Generaloberst Alfred Jodl, Chief of the Operations Staff. This is the Keitel-Haus, shown (left) as it appeared in the early 1950s under AFRC control, when it was called the Pershing House, and (right) as it appeared in 2001 (before renovation).  (1950s photo courtesy Clarke Family Archives) 

 

The nearby Jodl-Haus (called Haus Edda) was somewhat smaller (see the 1945 photo below). In 2006 the Jodl-Haus was torn down, and a new house built on its foundation (seen on the right above).

 

The Jodl-Haus (left) and Keitel-Haus (right) both appear in this photo, taken 15 May 1945. The occasion was a visit by Gen. Omar Bradley, who presented awards to several soldiers of the 101st Airborne Division.  (U.S. Army photo)

 

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The Keitel-Haus was renovated about 2004 and is now a private residence.  ("The Epic of the 101st Airborne," 101st Airborne Division Public Relations Office, Auxerre, France, 1945)

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In common with most of the buildings on the Obersalzberg (and some others in Berchtesgaden), the Kanzlei complex had an underground air-raid shelter tunnel. In contrast to many of the other area tunnel systems, this elaborate complex was completed and in service during the war. The tunnel system was entered 

 

In common with most of the buildings on the Obersalzberg (and some others in Berchtesgaden), the Kanzlei complex had an underground air-raid shelter tunnel.

(above left, bottom image - courtesy Vis Kimenis, LTC USA (Ret.)

 

In common with most of the buildings on the Obersalzberg (and some others in Berchtesgaden), the Kanzlei complex had an underground air-raid shelter tunnel.

(below - courtesy Vis Kimenis, LTC USA (Ret.)

 

In common with most of the buildings on the Obersalzberg (and some others in Berchtesgaden), the Kanzlei complex had an underground air-raid shelter tunnel.

 

This exit is in the hillside behind the main building.

 

Another exit at the level of the railroad tracks in the valley behind the building was buried for many years, but was reopened and the doorway renewed in 2014 (left). This exit would have allowed personnel to enter/exit the Kanzlei through the tunnel system, directly from/to the adjacent rail line, without being observed. The structure in the center and right photos was a concrete top for a ventilation shaft for the tunnel system, on the hillside behind and above the tunnel exit at the left.  (center and right - courtesy Ralf Hornberger)

 


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A military barracks complex was built nearby in Strub in 1937-38 for the 2nd Battalion of Gebirgsjägerregiment 100, and was cited in a 1940 book on German art as a classic example of harmonious military architecture blending into the surroundings. Although its official name was "Adolf Hitler Kaserne," the post was commonly called the Gebirgsjäger Kaserne (Mountain Troops Barracks). The post was used by the U.S. Army until 1995 but has now been turned back over to the Germany military   (1942-dated postcard in author's collection)  (MapQuest Map Link)

 

Further views of the Gebirgsjägerkaserne in Strub, from period architectural publications and postcards.

 

The period insignia over the front door has been modified so that the eagle holds an edelweiss flower (symbol of the Mountain Troops), instead of a swastika.

The Lion Monument memorializes all those of the Mountain Troops who have lost their lives in war, in particular the Mountain Troops of World War II.

 

On the left above, Gebirgsjäger troops from the Strub Kaserne parade through Berchtesgaden on Hanielstraße. By chance, my father photographed this same view in the spring of 1946 (on the right). The house at Am Kugelfeld still stands (below).

 


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A Sports School for the Bund deutscher Mädel (BDM - League of German Girls - girls' Hitler Youth) was built in the Berchtesgaden suburb of Strub in 1938. The complex serves today as a home for the elderly (Altenheim Insula). Click here to see an air-raid bunker nearby.  (MapQuest Map Link)

This building, located on the road to the Scharitzkehlalm, was a water house reportedly used as a cooling house to store milk from Martin Bormann's herds that grazed in the Scharitzkehl pasture. Although not co-located, it was part of the Gutshof complex. (A wooden addition was built on in 2014.)  (MapQuest Map Link)

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The Adolf Hitler Jugendherberge (Youth Hostel) was also built in Strub from 1935-1938. It was designed by architect Georg Zimmermann. The building still serves as a youth activities center today.  (from Werner Rittich, "Architektur und Bauplastik der Gegenwart," Berlin, 1938 (author's collection)
Note: As of July 2011, renovation is changing the appearance of the Jugendherberge complex. The small garage building and wall in front have been removed. The renovation, finished in September, was a radical change to this historic structure. It now looks like this, complete with fake painted-on window shutters, modern windows and entry doorway, and a metal fire escape.

 

Period postcard views of the Adolf Hitler Jugendherberge. The view on the right below, which shows the other side of the building, shows the Watzmann mountain in the background.  (author's collection)  (MapQuest Map Link)

 

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In the period view, Hitler Jugend boys play behind the Jugendherberge.

 

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Another view of the Adolf Hitler Jugendherberge.  (from Frau Prof. Gerdy Troost, "Das Bauen im neuen Reich," Vol. 1, 4th edition, Bayreuth, 1938)

 

Hitler visited his name-sake Jugendherberge in October 1936, as seen in this photo from the Illustrierter Beobachter newspaper of 29 October 1936.

 

Below - the original doors of the Jugendherberge and original wood carvings decorating the façade.  (left above - "Moderne Bauformen," 1937)

 

The entry hallway featured a display of Nazi flags - these are naturally gone today. Little else has changed - even the stairway railings remain original (but - the 2011 renovation radically changed this view).  (

 

Architectural model of the Adolf Hitler Jugendherberge. The main building is on the left; the other
two buildings also still exist.  (from Official Catalog of the 1st German Architecture and Crafts
Exhibition, in the Haus der Deutschen Kunst in Munich, January-March 1938 (author's collection)

Side plan view from a period architectural magazine.  ("Moderne Bauformen," 1937)

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   This small pressed paper disc portrays the Adolf Hitler Jugendherberge. It was one of a series showing youth hostels across Germany, given as a token to those who contributed to the Winterhilfswerk Nazi welfare relief.  (author's collection)

   Click here to see a WHW disc showing the Baldur von Schirach Jugendherberge at Urfeld am Walchensee.

 

 


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During the early 1930s, before his fame precluded this, Hitler enjoyed long walks in the Obersalzberg area. One of his favorite walks was along the Carl-von-Linde-Weg, from the area below the Platterhof Hotel to the Hochlenzer Gasthaus. The photos above show Hitler at Hochlenzer, while those below show the approximate scenes today. On the left above, Hitler's adjutant Wilhelm Brückner opens the gate while Youth Leader Baldur von Schirach (in Lederhosen) comes up behind. On the right Hitler appears to be holding backpack straps, but this is actually his ever-present dog whip which he has looped around his shoulders.  (Heinrich Hoffmann, "Hitler in seinen Bergen," Munich, 1938, and "Hitler, wie ihn keiner kennt," Berlin, 1932)

 

Hitler in different poses at Hochlenzer. On the left, he sits at an outdoor table with Bruno Buchner and his wife, proprietors of the Platterhof Hotel. On the right, Hitler in a more pensive mood.  (period postcard)

 

Hitler greets the owners and staff of Hochlenzer during a visit in the 1930s.  (period postcard)

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Dietrich Eckart was a German Nationalist writer and early member of the Nazi Party, who considered himself Hitler's mentor. While hiding from the Weimar government Eckart stayed in a cottage called the Göllhäusl, in the Hinterbrand area near the Obersalzberg. This house was later annexed to the Platterhof as a guest lodging. The view above shows (left-right): Hermann Göring, Reichs War Minister Werner von Blomberg, and Hitler visiting the Eckarthaus, ca. 1935.  (from Heinrich Hoffmann, "Hitler in seinen Bergen," Munich, 1938 (author's collection)

On the right, the Dietrich Eckart house today. Used by the U.S. Army AFRC as a youth sports retreat called "Hinterbrand Lodge," the house was closed in 2013, the final Berchtesgaden area building used by AFRC to be returned to German control. Comparison to the period postcard view below shows some of the changes that were made to the building under U.S. Army control.  (MapQuest Map Link)

 

The interior of the house has been changed as well, but it still retains some original features. The layout of the original Dietrich Eckart Stube (period postcard view, left above) can still be seen in the house manager's office today (along with original carved wood paneling). Some original wood carvings from the 1930s also remain - on the left below is an original carving on the door into the Dietrich Eckart Stube, and the ceiling beam in the main dining room retains partial carvings that can be read as "Auf wunsch des führers ... Im jahre ... (the rest is chiseled out or too defaced to read today).  (Many thanks to Frank Huber for permission to photograph inside, and for additional info.)

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The Hitler-Göring-Blomberg group seen above also visited the Brüggenlehen farm, just down the road in the Vorderbrand area. From left to right - Dr. Karl Brandt (partially hidden behind him appears to be Max Amann), Göring, Joachim von Ribbentrop (in rear), Hitler, von Blomberg, Wilhelm Brückner (Hitler's adjutant). ("Adolf Hitler - Bilder aus dem Leben des Führers," Cigaretten-Bilderdienst, 1936; modern photos courtesy Ralf Hornberger)

 

The Gasthof Vorderbrand was another favorite eatery for a Hitler visit in the early 1930s. The Stube, or Dietrich-Eckart-Zimmer, preserves a nearly identical appearance from the 1930s (the small swastika pennant hanging in the corner is naturally gone, and the furniture has been updated).  (Florentine Hamm, "Obersalzberg, Wanderungen zwischen Gestern und Heute," Munich, 1941)

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Dietrich Eckart died in December 1923 in this house in Berchtesgaden, called the Sonnblickhäusl (now a private residence).  (Florentine Hamm, "Obersalzberg, Wanderungen zwischen Gestern und Heute," Munich, 1941)

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Dietrich Eckart was buried in the Altfriedhof cemetery in Berchtesgaden. On the left is a 1935 photo of his decorated grave; in the center from about 1936; on the right a recent photo. Note the difference in the lettering styles between then and now. At some point, possibly in 1945 during the American occupation, Eckart's name was ground off his marker, and was later recarved in a different style (this can also be seen from the type of stone finish on the front and back of the marker today). (Click here and here to visit other sites associated with Dietrich Eckart.)  (left - author's collection; center - Florentine Hamm, "Obersalzberg, Wanderungen zwischen Gestern und Heute," Munich, 1941)

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A hospital named for Eckart (Dietrich-Eckart-Krankenhaus) was built in Stanggass in 1939; it was opened for use as a military hospital in June 1942. During the war convalescent soldiers were treated here; after the war this was a local Kurklinik, but is now unused (as of September 2009). The view at bottom right shows the hospital decorated for the opening ceremony on 13 June 1942.  (period photos and postcards in author's collection)  (MapQuest Map Link)

 

The former Dietrich-Eckart-Krankenhaus as it appeared in 2009.

 

The cupola in the angle between the buildings (seen in the right-hand photo) has a unique wind vane - see below.  (Note: In 2013 this wind vane disappeared from the roof.)

 

 

At the rear of the complex is an enclosed courtyard that leads to a large open area in back, with wall murals painted on the stairwell housings. The marble staircase below is one of the few period items still left inside. This staircase is at the corner of the wings seen below, behind the tall windows.

 

The murals, which feature traditional Bavarian alpine agricultural and family themes, were painted by Berchtesgaden artist Maria Harrich. They may have been painted (or repainted) after the war. Harrich also painted the wall murals in the main hall of the Berchtesgaden Bahnhof.

 


SS Chief Heinrich Himmler did not have a house on the Obersalzberg, but he did maintain a
house in Schönau for his mistress Hedwig Potthast. This house, called the Schneewinkllehen,
 was a vacation home for Sigmund Freud in the 19th century. The house is now private property.

 


 

Rstone.gif (1273 bytes)   Continue to see further Berchtesgaden area buildings and sites.

   Visit Berchtesgaden area anti-aircraft (Flak) positions

Rstone.gif (1273 bytes)   Visit the Berchtesgadener Hof hotel, then and now

Rstone.gif (1273 bytes)   Continue to the Obersalzberg sites - Hitler's Berghof, Bormann's and Göring's houses, Platterhof, Gästehaus and Kampfhäusl, Hotel Zum Türken, Gutshof and Teehaus, Kehlsteinhaus, SS barracks, bunker system, miscellaneous Obersalzberg buildings.

Lstone.gif (1289 bytes)   Return to the Third Reich in Ruins homepage

 

For further information, including Internet links, check the Bibliography page. I am sincerely indebted to Florian Beierl of the Archiv Obersalzberg, who identified the modern locations of some of these sites for me.

 

 

Third Reich in Ruins, http://www.thirdreichruins.com/

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This page initially uploaded on 20 July 2000.


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