Geoff Walden


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Further Berchtesgaden Area Sites

   The quaint mountain village of Oberau, northeast of the Obersalzberg, was the location of two Third Reich facilities.

The period view shows a small barracks complex for the SS, built in the Vochenbichl area of Oberau. These wooden buildings were taken over by the U.S. Army in 1945, and were used for several years to house Displaced Persons (refugees). They were torn down several years ago, but foundation remains can be seen near the Oberau Sportplatz.  (MapQuest Map Link)

 

This building, now the Gasthof Auerwirt in Oberau, was remodeled in 1937 as a home for the Hitler Jugend. Hitler himself made a large contribution toward the reconstruction.  (MapQuest Map Link)

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This building was used as a headquarters building for the Luftwaffe in the Berchtesgaden area. It was located in the southern part of the town, off the road leading to the Königssee. A tunnel system was built into the hill beneath the building, where much of Hermann Göring's art collection was discovered by American troops in May 1945. Under the U.S. Army AFRC recreation area, this building was used as a religious retreat house called the Alpine Inn. It was torn down in 1996 and housing was built on the site.

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"Haus Köppeleck" in Schönau am Königssee was used as a Kinderlandverschickung (KLV) Lager - a location for vacations for city children in rural areas, and later as camps for children evacuated from cities that were bombing targets. A group of Bund Deutscher Mädel (BDM - girls Hitler Youth) visit at left.  (Adolf Schmidt, "Jugend im Reich," Berlin, 1942)  (Google Maps link)

 


Königssee Area Sites

The beautiful mountain lake Königssee, south of Berchtesgaden, was a favorite destination for Hitler and Eva Braun on a sunny summer day. In this 1938 view, a Nazi flag can be seen in front of the famous Hotel Schiffmeister. Below, my father photographed the Hotel Schiffmeister in 1946.  (above - period postcard in author's collection; below - collection of G.A. and G.R. Walden)  (MapQuest Map Link)

 

Another period postcard view of the Nazi flag flying in front of the Hotel Schiffmeister.

 

Eva Braun particularly liked to visit a beach at the Königssee, where she practiced gymnastics. The view is practically unchanged today.  (US National Archives, RG242-EB)

 

The beach area described above was near the base of the Königsbach waterfall. Up the slope of the fall itself was another favorite spot for Eva Braun and her friends to bathe - a series of natural water tanks formed as the fall flows over rock shelves. The remoteness of this location allowed the friends to bathe in the nude. The stills below, from Eva Braun's movie collections, are invariably labeled as showing Eva herself, but I really think this was her sister Gretl. (I recently acquired a copy of Life magazine from 20 January 1947, containing the first publication of news concerning the US Army's discovery of these films, and this article also identifies the nude bather as Gretl.)  (on the left, above and below - stills from Eva Braun's movie collection in the U.S. National Archives, RG 242.2; on the right, above and below - courtesy Ralf Hornberger)

 

Eva Braun also enjoyed visiting the Schliersee, a lake near the Tegernsee lake, south of Munich, where she exercised on a bar. The area where her apparatus was set up is now a private camp ground.  (U.S. National Archives, RG 242.2)  (Google Maps Link)

 

Adolf Hitler also visited the Königssee. Here he is seen on a boat on the lake, with the Sankt Bartholomä chapel in the background.  (Heinrich Hoffmann, "Hitler in seinen Bergen," Munich, 1938)

 

At the south end of lake Königssee, separated by a narrow isthmus of land, is the Obersee (this was likely once all one lake, with the isthmus the result of an avalanche sometime in the past). Adolf Hitler visited the Obersee on at least two occasions, for photo opportunities. The views above show a visit in May 1933. The rock just behind Hitler is easily identifiable today, although the lake level is now somewhat different (the water level fluctuates with the season).  (left - period postcard; right - Cigaretten-Bilderdienst Altona-Bahrenfeld, "Kampf um's Dritte Reich" (1933)  (MapQuest Map Link)

 

On another occasion Hitler visited in uniform. He posed on another rock just to the right of the rock seen in the earlier views. This rock is often surrounded by water today.  (Heinrich Hoffmann, "Hitler in seinen Bergen," Munich, 1938)

 

Reichsmarschall Hermann Göring, an avid hunter and outdoorsman, had a special hunting lodge built in the Roth area in the mountains surrounding the Obersee. The lodge was torn down after the war and the site is difficult to visit today, reachable only by way of a long hike and climb into the mountains. However, the approximate site can be seen from the Königssee boat landing at Salet - the landing for the Obersee path - the site was below the distinctive notch in the mountains that can be seen in the distance (the actual site is not visible from here - it was on the other side of the wooded ridge seen in the modern photo).

 


Hintersee Sites

 

The Hintersee is an alpine lake to the west of Berchtesgaden, surrounded by the "Magic Forest" (Zauberwald) - a favorite hiking area today. In May 1945 the Hintersee area became the final command post of the Berchtesgaden/Obersalzberg Nazi leadership. Above is the Altes Zollhaus or old Customs House. This is the last building on the road leading to the border with Austria at Hirschbichl (closed to private vehicles). It was bought in 1939 by Fritz Todt, main engineer of Hitler's Autobahn system and later Armaments Minister during the war. Todt's family lived here during the war, which is why Todt has a cenotaph in the Berchtesgaden Bergfriedhof cemetery (he was actually buried in the Invalidenfriedhof military cemetery in Berlin).  (period photo from Eduard Schönleben, "Fritz Todt," 1943)  (MapQuest Map Link)

 

The building on the left above is the Altes Forsthaus or forestry headquarters, up the road from the Todt house (toward the lake). In early May 1945 Hans Lammers, chief of the Reichskanzlei, moved his staff here. One of Hitler's armored Mercedes cars was found here by soldiers of the 101st Airborne Division. The hotel seen on the right above is the Gasthof Alpenhof (sometimes referred to as "Bartels," after the owner). Adjutant Albert Bormann moved his operations here following the destruction of the Obersalzberg in late April 1945. Others of the staff who had moved from Berlin to the Obersalzberg around 22 April 1945 also ended up here and at the Hotel Post, including Adjutant Julius Schaub and secretary Christa Schroeder. The Alpenhof's Stube still has wood carvings reminiscent of the Third Reich era.  (MapQuest Map Link)

 

The Hotel Post on the Hintersee was used in earlier times to house various dignitaries visiting the Nazi hierarchy on the Obersalzberg. This hotel and Bartels Alpenhof are located directly on the Hintersee lake, with outstanding views of the surrounding mountains (the former Hotel Post is now the Gästehaus Hintersee). In the postcard view on the right, Hitler greets local children at the Hotel Post.

 

Hitler relaxes on the terrace of the Seeklause hotel with his press chief Otto Dietrich. In the period postcard view below, he is seen with his personal adjutant Wilhelm Brückner.  (Heinrich Hoffmann, "Hitler in seinen Bergen," Munich, 1938)

 


Bad Reichenhall Area Sites

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A military barracks complex was built in Bad Reichenhall, north of Berchtesgaden. This was the Gebirgs-Artillerie-Kaserne (for mountain artillery troops), also called the Ritter-von-Tutschek-Kaserne (now called the Hochstaufen Kaserne). The swastika below the eagle at the corner of the building has been changed to an edelweiss flower. Click here to see more photos of the Bad Reichenhall barracks.  (from period postcards; photo below-right from a private collection)  (MapQuest Map Link)

 

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The period soldier paintings no longer appear on this building down the street, at another gate to the barracks. The 1940-dated postcard view shows the site when it was called Mackensen-Kaserne.  (period postcard in author's collection; my thanks to Torben Behrens for info about this site)

 

A popular tourist destination is the Predigtstuhl mountain above Bad Reichenhall. The cable car system to the mountain resort, built in 1928, is the oldest continually-operating cable car in the world (much of the system, including the cable itself, is original to 1928). Hitler, who was reportedly afraid of heights, visited the Predigtstuhl for a photo opportunity (although this may have been his only visit).  (above - Heinrich Hoffmann, "Hitler in seinen Bergen," Munich, 1938; below - period postcard)

 


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Near Bad Reichenhall, in the village of Ainring, was the airport used by Hitler and other higher ranking Nazis and visitors when they flew to the Obersalzberg. The airfield area has been incorporated into the town of Ainring, and the main building is now a Police facility.  (from period postcards and Herbert Hoffman, "Deutschland baut," Stuttgart, 1938; modern photos courtesy Ralf Hornberger)  (Google Maps link)

 


Kleßheim Palace near Salzburg, Austria

The early 18th century Kleßheim Palace near Salzburg, Austria, was used by the Nazis to house high-ranking visitors to Hitler's Berghof, including German Foreign Minister Joachim von Ribbentrop, Italian leader Benito Mussolini and his Foreign Minister Graf Ciano, Romanian president Antonescu, Slovakian president Tiso, Admiral Miklós Horthy of Hungary, and others. It was occupied by the U.S. Army after the war - the period photo above shows the band of the 30th Infantry Regiment, 3rd Infantry Division, parading in review in May 1945. The victors have put up a 3rd I.D. insignia over the main doorway, but German camouflage netting still remains on much of the building (dark areas in the photo). The entrance gate to the complex was rebuilt in 1942, with two large eagles added, but these eagles never had swastikas. The palace now houses the Salzburg Casino. (Donald G. Taggart, "History of the Third Infantry Division in World War II," Washington, Infantry Journal Press, 1947)  (MapQuest Map Link)

 

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.

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For further information, including Internet links, check the Bibliography page.

 

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