Geoff Walden

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Obersalzberg

SS Barracks Complex (Kaserne)

   A housing complex for the SS guard detachment was built in 1937. This consisted of a barracks building, a kitchen/messhall building, a building for vehicle maintenance and storage, a sport hall (gymnasium), and a staff headquarters building, all grouped around a central parade field that was used for training and inspection of guards. The complex was severely damaged during the April 1945 bombing attack, and the ruins were razed ca. 1951. The building foundations, basements, and tunnel systems remained underground, but these were torn out and filled in during 2001-2002. Plans call for a sports and concert hall to be built on the site.

 

This drawing of the SS Kaserne and surrounding buildings is from a 1941 illustrated map of the Obersalzberg.
The Fahrerwohnhaus (Drivers House) and Dienstwagenhalle (motor pool garage) of the Kaserne are labeled,
as well as the Kindergarten building and the SS Wache (Guard) at the Hotel zum Türken.

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SS Kaserne in the 1940s. View from above the greenhouse, looking toward the Platterhof and its garage (seen in the background). The sport hall is the furthest building with a red roof, with the large vertical windows. The SS Kaserne garage is the building on the far left.

Same view ca. 1950. This photo was taken by ex-Nazi photographer Ernst Baumann. Note that the top of the anti-aircraft command and control center ventilation tower shows at the bottom edge of the photo.  (author's collection)

 

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Similar views in June 1981 (left) and May 2001. The building ruins were razed in late 1951 and the level area turned into a soccer field. The General Walker Hotel (Platterhof) can be seen in the left distance in the 1981 photo. The recent view shows the remaining SS building foundations being torn out. The uncovered basement walls of the SS Kaserne garage can be seen on the left.

 

The complete Baumann composite photos, taken from the same spot on the Göringhügl hill, ca. 1940 and ca. 1950. From left-right: foreground - SS Kaserne, background - Platterhof garage and Platterhof; center - Modellhaus/Filmarchiv; right - Kindergarten and Hotel Zum Türken, with the Berghof behind.  (original photos in author's collection)
(Click on each photo above to download larger scale views, which show several interesting details.)

 

U.S. Army soldiers from the 101st Airborne Division view the ruins of the SS Administration Building (Verwaltungsbau). Comparing to the period photo, taken from about the same place, shows the destruction following the bombing - the soldiers are actually standing in the main road from the Berghof to the Hintereck area. This Administration building appears in the lower and right center of the first color image at the top of this page. (My thanks to Ralf Hornberger for identifying the location of the 1945 photo.)  (left - U.S. National Archives, RG 342FH-A49862; right - Hartmann, "Verwaltung")

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These composite photos show similar views of the SS Barracks compound, before and after the 1945 bombing. The view is from the road behind the vehicle maintenance building, looking across the barracks compound toward Bormann's house and the Göring Hill (in the right background). The bottom photo was taken by my father Lt. Delbert R. Walden in 1946.
(top photo from Hartmann, "Verwandlung;" bottom photo from collection of G.R. and G.A. Walden)

 

Postcard views of the SS Kaserne.

 

Adjacent to the Drivers House of the SS Kaserne, but not actually part of the Kaserne, was the Obersalzberg Post Office. Very few period photos of this building exist - the only detailed view I have ever seen is above right. In the Kaserne view above left, the Post building is at the far left. The Post was a wooden building on a stone foundation. It was practically demolished during the April 1945 bomb attack. The remains appear in the May 1945 photo below, just to the left of center. (There was another postal facility in a building of the Platterhof complex.)  (above left - period photo by Ernst Baumann; above right - "Der Baumeister," Nov. 1937; below - U.S. Army photo, National Archives)

 

In the early 1980s the wood parquet floor of the sport hall was still visible, and the basement was accessible through a hole in the ground. This basement (shown here) led to an underground rifle range.

In the spring of 2002, the demolition work at the site of the SS Kaserne uncovered the basement and rifle range.  (courtesy John Figgins)

 

Interior of the rifle and machinegun range in early June 2002. The marking in the center photo, "Zur Aufzeichen Deckung" (which can be seen on the wall in the right-hand photo) pointed the way down a staircase, to a covered area where firing scores were kept (this area was underwater when this photo was taken, and has now been filled in and covered over).  (My thanks to Randall Lee Rose for these photos.)

 

Period markings on the rifle range wall - presumably firing scores or notes. On the right, relics from the rifle range in 2002 - a belt of links from an MG-34 machinegun, along with various cartridge cases and bullets.  (My thanks to Randall Lee Rose for these photos.)

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Entrance to the main barracks building, before and after the 1945 bombing.

 

Amazingly, much of the original sculpture above the entrance doorway still exists. The left-hand figure and central shield can be found in a nearby town, and the head from the right-hand figure is in a private collection in France - taken home by one of the French soldiers who occupied the Obersalzberg.  (left - many thanks to my friend Ralf Hornberger who found this piece; right - courtesy Guilhem Touratier)

 

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Two views of the ruined SS Kaserne taken by GIs of the 3rd Infantry Division in May 1945. Above, the barracks building; below, the sports hall (the ruins of Bormann's house appear on the hill in the distance).  (Donald G. Taggart, ed., "History of the Third Infantry Division in World War II," Washington, Infantry Journal Press, 1947)

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Garage building of the SS Kaserne, with a similar view of the ruins taken in August 1945. The chimney seen in the ruins view was for the central Obersalzberg heating system.  (right - National Archives, Record Group 111-SC, 252672)

 

More views of the SS Kaserne ruins in 1945-1946. The photos above are looking from the area of the Greenhouse toward the Platterhof. The view at lower left shows the Platterhof garage on the left with the SS Kaserne ruins on the right. On the right below, soldiers from the 101st Airborne Division examine a German Kubelwagen car at the SS Kaserne ruins.  (above - postcards; below - U.S. National Archives RG 342FH, 3A20802 (left), 3A20799 (right)

 

The ruins of the SS Kaserne seen in 1951. The upper stories of the buildings were gradually demolished over the years,
until the ruins were razed in 1952. The long building in the background is the Platterhof Garage. The air-raid siren can be
seen among the trees at the top of the highest ground in the right center distance.  (author's collection)

 

Ruins of the SS Kaserne in 1952, shortly before they were demolished. Above left - the entrance into the main barracks building. On the right, a ruined clock on the wall of the gymnasium building. Below, ruins at the corner of the mess hall building and garage building, with the drivers' house seen beyond.  ("Illustrated London News," 5 January 1952)

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The garage building is in the right-center, and the building behind and to the left is the so-called Fahrerwohnhaus, or residence for the vehicle drivers and chauffeurs. The May 2001 view is from a similar angle, showing the uncovering of the building basements, before their removal. The floor and partly uncovered basement wall of the garage can be seen on the right, with the basement walls of the drivers house to the left.

 

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An entrance in the basement wall of the drivers house led to rough-hewn tunnels beneath and into the hill behind, with several partly finished rooms. This entrance can be seen in the period photo above, in the wall below the drivers house, near the garage building. This area had been covered by the soccer field until the spring of 2001 (it has again been recovered and is now inaccessible).

 

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A further underground system below this level led to an access tunnel running beneath the garage building. This tunnel has several vertical structures that appear to be part of a drainage system (the one shown here in the center was damaged), and remains of wooden shelf units along the wall.

 

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Various small rooms were also on this level beneath the garage - this one shows graffiti from visitors in August 1995.

Corroded electrical junction box in the garage tunnel.

 

The last basement remains to be removed and/or filled in were those of the kitchen/messhall building and the administration building, in the summer of 2002.  (courtesy George Foehringer)

 


Click here to visit the Bunkers page, showing the main tunnel systems under the Obersalzberg.

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

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

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This page initially uploaded on 20 July 2000.


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