Obersalzberg Nazi Complex
The main area of Nazi occupation in Berchtesgaden was on the Obersalzberg, a quiet mountain retreat two miles east of Berchtesgaden and some 1200 feet higher in elevation. This page is divided into various sections to cover this area; follow these links to visit each specific area: Berghof (Hitler's home), Bormann's and Göring's houses, Platterhof, Gästehaus and Kampfhäusl, Hotel Zum Türken, bunker system, Kehlsteinhaus (Eagles Nest), SS barracks, Gutshof and Teehaus, miscellaneous buildings.
Construction of the eventual mammoth Nazi complex on the Obersalzberg began about 1935. Hitler already had his Haus Wachenfeld (later renamed the "Berghof"), and Hermann Göring also had a small rustic house higher on the hill. Both of these were later enlarged and remodeled, although Göring's house retained somewhat the character of a rustic country "landhaus" (Göring was an avid hunter and outdoorsman). To control the crowds who came to see their Führer and Reichskanzler in his home in Berchtesgaden, SS guards were brought in, barracks had to be built, lodgings for all the workers needed for the construction and remodeling were required, accommodations for important guests were necessary, housing for all the needed staff had to be built, kindergartens for their children, etc. Soon the mountain area was a vast scene of construction, and a high fence was built around the entire area to keep the crowds away. Eventually, mostly by design of Nazi Reichsleiter Martin Bormann (who ran the Obersalzberg complex), Hitler's palatial Berghof (no longer a rustic mountain lodge) was surrounded by a security area from which the common people of the Third Reich were excluded. Some of these buildings can be seen in this 1981 photo, taken from the Kehlsteinhaus almost 3000 feet higher on the Hoher Göll mountain overlooking the Obersalzberg. A plan showing these buildings appears below. Click here for a MapQuest map of the Obersalzberg.
Compare this photo taken from the same spot ca. 1940. Most of the Obersalzberg buildings can be seen, although the Berghof is hidden behind the woods in the right-center of the photo.
Many of these buildings were severely damaged and substantially destroyed in a Royal Air Force bombing attack on 25 April 1945. The map and pre-bombing reconnaissance photo below show the locations of the various buildings and ruins ca. 1960. (Verlag Therese Partner, Hotel zum Türken (author's collection); photo from the Imperial War Museum, London)
This interesting plan of the central
Obersalzberg area can be compared to the one above. This plan was published
This model of the Obersalzberg complex
was used to brief high ranking military and civilian visitors during the
This photo, one of a series of aerial views taken in mid-May 1945 by the U.S. Army Air Forces, shows a similar view to that above (showing more to the right). The ruined Berghof, hit at least twice during the 25 April 1945 bombing by the RAF, and later set on fire by departing SS troops, is at the lower left-center of the photo. Comparing to the photo and map above, you can also see the partly-ruined Hotel Zum Türken and the main SS guard house. Uphill from the Türken is the bombed-out SS barracks complex. Not visible in the photo above, but seen in this one, are the Platterhof hotel (right center), with its Guest House just below. The roof of the garage and employees quarters for the Platterhof can be seen to the left of the Platterhof, adjacent to the SS barracks. This view also shows one of the emergency exits to the air raid shelter system beneath the hill behind the Berghof - a lighter hued area just off the left wingtip of the P-47 Thunderbolt seen in the lower center of the photo. In the left distance can be seen the buildings of the Klaushöhe settlement. (National Archives, RG 342-FH)
Another in the series of May 1945 aerial views shows the Hotel Zum Türken on the right, with the ruins of the Kindergarten house and the SS barracks uphill behind it. To the left of the SS barracks buildings is the shattered greenhouse, and farther on, at the left edge of this view, are the ruins of Bormann's house. In the lower left-center of the photo is the bombed Unterwurflehen house, where the SS officer who ran the Obersalzberg administrative offices lived. Note how the bombing churned the roads up so that they were barely passable in this area, and note the P-47 Thunderbolt in the center of the photo. (National Archives, RG 342-FH, 3A20805)
A part of another in the series of May 1945 aerial views shows this same area, from a different angle. The main SS guardhouse is at the bottom, with the Berghof ruins in the right-center of the photo and the Türken just above. In the left-center are the ruins of the Unterwurflehen house, with Bormann's destroyed house on the hill above. Landhaus Göring appears at the upper left (looking not too badly damaged here). This photo has a good view of one of the Berghof bunker emergency exits, to the lower right of the Berghof ruins (see a modern photo of this bunker exit here). Many of the bomb craters seen in these 1945 photos can still be found in undeveloped areas on the Obersalzberg. (National Archives, RG 342-FH)
In this view the P-47 Thunderbolt is
flying in front of the ruins of Hitler's Berghof. The destruction from the
This photo taken by a G.I. in the early
summer of 1945 shows the ruins of the eastern wing of the Berghof, which took a
direct bomb hit
This photo taken about 1960 shows the ruins of the Obersalzberg. Comparison to the photos and map above will identify most of these features. The Berghof site is at the lower-right - the garage and retaining walls can be seen. The rebuilt Hotel Zum Türken is adjacent, with an open area above, where the SS Kaserne was located. The large dug out area across the road from the Türken (below the site of Bormann's house) was where fill was taken to make the parking lot for the Kehlsteinhaus buses, which can be seen near the center of the photo (contrary to some sources, this fill was not taken from the actual site of Bormann's house, but from further down the hill). The greenhouse foundations can be seen in the center of the photo, with the Göring Hill to the left, still showing numerous bomb craters. Above that can be seen Göring's Adjutant's house, the SS houses at the Hintereck, the Koksbunker, and at the top of the photo, the parking lot for the Klaushöhe settlement.
Click here for a page showing many more photos of the Berghof
Click here to visit a page showing souvenirs taken home by GIs who visited the Berghof site in 1945.
This view is the closest
one can come today to duplicating the view from the Berghof
front window or terrace.
The view at left shows the Berghof as seen from Bormann's house. Note the stepped retaining wall cut into the hill, just to the rear of the house. This retaining wall is all that remains intact today, in the woods that have grown up since 1952 (the modern view is looking back toward the area pinpointed in the previous view, at an exterior angle in the retaining wall, between the Berghof itself and the adjacent Adjutancy). Some small remains of the foundation can also be found, as well as some of the original asphalt of the driveway, a concrete reservoir, and electrical and telephone cable access shafts. (In 1952 and again during the 2001-2003 destruction of the SS Kaserne ruins, rubble was occasionally dumped on the Berghof site. The present ground level across most of the Berghof site is several feet higher than the original ground level.) (MapQuest Map Link)
Click here to visit pages featuring detailed photos of Haus Wachenfeld and the Berghof (too many to show on this page), plus a page identifying some of the members of Hitler's inner circle, as photographed at the Berghof.
Continue to other Obersalzberg sites - Bormann's and Göring's houses, Platterhof, Gästehaus and Kampfhäusl, Hotel Zum Türken, bunker system, Kehlsteinhaus, SS barracks, Gutshof and Teehaus, miscellaneous buildings, other miscellaneous area buildings, flak positions.
Click here to browse an updated listing of the changes taken place on the Obersalzberg in recent years.
Click here to visit a page about the capture of German Gen. Tolsdorf by the 101st Airborne Div., near Hirschbichl, Austria.
Click here to visit a page with large-scale photos and panoramic views of sites in Berchtesgaden and the Obersalzberg.
For further information, including Internet links, check the Bibliography page. Photos without credit are from postcards and publications available in Berchtesgaden; in most cases these have been published without sources given and without copyright notice. Modern photos are the page authors (except where noted), and may not be reproduced without permission.
I wish to express my sincere appreciation here to the following individuals, who have supplied significant information and/or photographs for use on my Berchtesgaden/Obersalzberg pages: Florian Beierl, Mark Eve, John Figgins, George Foehringer, Randall Lee Rose, Frau Ingrid Scharfenberg, and most especially to my good friend Ralf Hornberger.
Click here to read an update of information on current and planned changes to the Obersalzberg.
For personal guided tours in
English of Third Reich sites in Berchtesgaden and on the Obersalzberg (and other
local sites) from a certified and accredited local tour guide, contact:
Third Reich in Ruins, http://www.thirdreichruins.com/
All contents copyright © 2000-2018,
Geoffrey R. Walden; all rights reserved. All photos taken by or
This page is intended for historical
research only, and no political or philosophical aims should be assumed.
The appearance of hyperlinks does not constitute
endorsement by the author of the information, products or
This page initially uploaded on 20 July 2000.