Geoff Walden


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Hotel zum Türken

   Legend says the "Türkenhäusl" was named for a veteran returning from a war against the Turks in 1683.  Local innkeeper Karl Schuster bought the "Little Turk House" in 1911 and converted it to a guesthouse.  It soon became one of the most popular stops in the region, entertaining the likes of Johannes Brahms, Clara Schumann, Bavarian Prince-Regent Luitpold, and the Crown Prince and Princess of Prussia. Early Nazis Dietrich Eckart and Adolf Hitler ate lunch there in 1923.

   In the late 1920s the Türken found itself in the unenviable position of becoming Adolf Hitler's neighbor, when he rented and later bought the adjacent Haus Wachenfeld for his home. Karl Schuster was a somewhat outspoken critic of the Nazi takeover of the Obersalzberg, since this ruined his business, and he joined the majority of his neighbors who were forced to sell out to the Nazis and leave the area in late 1933. The building was first used by the SS-Führerleibwache, Hitler's personal bodyguard. Martin Bormann, manager of the Obersalzberg, later assigned the building to the Reichssicherheitsdienst (RSD), the high-level Security Service responsible for Hitler's safeguarding (some references say the Haus Türken housed the Gestapo, but the RSD was a separate organization). In practice, the ex-hotel served as a headquarters for the round-the-clock SS guard detachment, and also as a telephone communications center.

   The building was severely damaged in the April 1945 bombing attack (being immediately adjacent to Hitler's Berghof home), and heavily plundered by the local population and Allied soldiers. Nevertheless, Karl Schuster's widow and their daughter Therese Partner were determined to get the family's property back. Against opposition from the authorities, Therese Partner began to rebuild, and in 1949, she was finally rewarded by being permitted to repurchase the building (the building was not given back to the family by the government). She immediately set about refurnishing and reopening the Hotel zum Türken, which again took its place as one of the most popular guest houses in the area.  (Google Maps link)


The Haus Türken in the 1930s. The view above right is a close-up from a photo showing Adolf Hitler greeting a child in the Berghof driveway - note the Nazi flag flying to the right of the Türken. Below, Hitler in the Berghof driveway below the Türken, and a view from the area of Martin Bormann's house overlooking the Türken and the Berghof.  (above - period postcards; below left - Hans Quassowski, ed., "Zwölf Jahre: 1.Kompanie Leibstandarte SS Adolf Hitler," Rosenheim, Deutsche Verlagsgesellschaft, 1989)


On the left is a 1934-dated postcard view of the Haus Türken, with Hitler's Haus Wachenfeld seen behind. The postcard view on the right shows the Türken ca. 1936, with the new Berghof behind. Of interest in this view is the large opening on the left side of the Türken, which led into a wagon storage area behind the building. This opening was later closed off (see all the other side views on this page), but its outline can still be seen in the plaster of the Türken side wall today.  (period postcards)


The SS guard detachment marching to Haus Türken and the same view today. (All modern photos on this page taken and published here by permission of the late Frau Ingrid Scharfenberg, Hotel zum Türken.)


The SS guard presents arms in front of the hotel, with the guard house in the foreground. The windows on this side of the house were popular with the SS guards, who could see from there whether Martin Bormann, the "Lord of the Obersalzberg," was at home.


Under RSD control, the Türken entryway featured an iron grating with SS runes in a circle. The iron grating is still there, but the SS runes are naturally gone; a close examination today shows where the iron circle was cut out. The front doors are original to 1911, and even the original door lock was in use until about 2004. (The chalk markings above the door are a Catholic commemoration of Epiphany (Three Kings Day), January 6 - the year is shown on either side of C+M+B - Christus Mansionem Benedicat - Christ Bless This House (not the names of the Three Wise Men, as is often believed).  (many thanks to the contributor who donated this image!)


Hitler's admirers gather at the Haus Türken and in the road at the foot of the Berghof driveway, hoping to catch a glimpse of their Führer. The front steps are now gone, but the rock retaining wall is still visible.


Hitler greets Gen. Karl Litzmann (World War I hero - the "Lion of Brzeziny") at the end of the Berghof driveway, near the road below the Haus Türken. Note the footbridge across the road, just to the left of the Haus Türken - this dates this photo to the early 1930s, when the Berghof was still Haus Wachenfeld. In addition, Haus Hudler (later taken over by Bormann) does not appear to have been remodeled yet in this photo, and it appears that Dr. Seitz's sanatorium can still be seen behind the Haus Türken. Martin Bormann's plans would radically change that whole area. Standing behind Hitler is his personal adjutant Wilhelm Brückner.  (from Hoffmann, "Hitler in seinen Bergen," 1938; author's collection)


Eva Braun (left) and friends on the road in front of the Haus Türken. With Eva is Hanni Morell (wife of Dr. Theo Morell), (unknown), Albert Speer's wife Margarete, and Sofie Stork (an artist friend of Eva's and Hitler's). The modern view (1981) shows that the hotel was not rebuilt exactly in the same style as pre-1945. (National Archives, RG 242-HB)


FotoHoffmann.jpg (24260 bytes)

The man who took the pictures  --  in the center of this photo is Heinrich Hoffmann,
Hitler's official photographer, who took the majority of period photos showing Adolf Hitler.
This photo was taken in the road just below the Haus Türken.
(National Archives RG 242-HB)


The Stube, or parlor of the Haus Türken ca.1930. The visitors include Josef "Fleck" Rasp (right), Adolf Hitler's closest neighbor.  (from Florentine Hamm, "Obersalzberg, Wanderungen zwischen Gestern und Heute," Munich, 1941 (author's collection) The Rasp family lived in the Freidinglehen farmhouse, immediately below Hitler's house (see aerial view here). In 1936, following the conversion of Haus Wachenfeld to the Berghof, in accordance with Martin Bormann's plans to close off the Obersalzberg to the public, the Rasp family was moved and the farm was razed.  (National Archives, RG 242-HB)


RaspmitAH.jpg (132960 bytes)

Hitler greets his neighbor Rasp. This photo was often used for propaganda purposes, showing Hitler as a genial
and respectful neighbor.  (from Hoffmann, "Hitler in seinen Bergen," 1935; author's collection)


These modern photos show some of Karl Schuster's original wood carvings on the ceiling of one of the Türken public rooms.


The postcard view above likely dates from the 1920s, and shows the main dining area, the "Eberwein Zimmer." This area had to be extensively rebuilt following the war - on the right is a view of part of the room today.


The Haus Türken as it appeared in May 1945, shortly after the Allied occupation, and as the hotel appears today.  ("The Epic of the 101st Airborne," 101st Airborne Division Public Relations Office, Auxerre, France, 1945)


GIs inspect the ruins of the Türken in May 1945, with corresponding views in May 2005. In a similar photo that appeared in Life magazine (21 May 1945 issue), the Türken was identified as "Hitler's Chalet." This was a common mistake in 1945 publications (and in some later ones as well, including even recent works), which often labeled photos of the Türken as the Berghof. (This may have been the result of confusion between Haus Wachenfeld and the Berghof - some may have thought that Haus Wachenfeld still existed as a separate "chalet" and that these were its ruins.) What appear to be darker blotches on the walls in the 1945 photos were actually camouflage netting hanging down.  (above - U.S. Army Signal Corps Photo, National Archives RG 111-SC; below - courtesy Chris Munz)


More views of the Türken ruins in 1945. The aerial reconnaissance photo below shows a direct bomb hit on the side wing of the Türken, with damage to the Kindergarten building behind.  (below - U.S. National Archives)


These photos show the proximity of the Hotel zum Türken to the Berghof. On the left, a view from the late 1930s or early 1940s; on the right, the rebuilt Hotel zum Türken seen in the early 1950s, before the destruction of the Berghof ruins (seen on the right).  (postcard on right from author's collection)


The basement of the Türken had three prisoner cells; these were probably used to detain members of the SS guard force and Obersalzberg administration for infractions that required locking up for a short time. The walls and ceilings were blackened by fire, said to be from the bombing attack of 25 April 1945, but possibly from fires intentionally set to burn documents or other items (the building itself was not set on fire by the bombing). The view on the left is from a 1950s period postcard.


In common with most buildings on the Obersalzberg, the Hotel zum Türken had underground passageways linking it to other buildings. In addition to the traditional air raid shelter/bunker system under the hotel, linking to the systems of Hitler and Bormann, a smaller access tunnel led behind the hotel and under the hill to the Modellhaus basement.


Note - The Hotel zum Türken continued to be operated as a hotel until 2018, but has remained closed since 2019. The hotel was sold in late 2020 and its future is unclear at this time.


My guide book to Third Reich sites in the Berchtesgaden and Obersalzberg area has been published by Fonthill Media.
"Hitler's Berchtesgaden" is available at Amazon and other retailers (the Kindle version is also available from Amazon).


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

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This page initially uploaded on 20 July 2000.