Berghof: Hitler’s Bavarian Home

image from: www.uncommon-travel-germany.com

image from: www.uncommon-travel-germany.com

Ever wonder where Adolf Hitler lived?

He moved from place to place during his tenure as dictator of Nazi Germany, but the house where he spent the majority of his time during World War II – his happy place if you will – was called The Berghof. It was both his vacation home and his planning headquarters from 1935-1945. The Berghof was located in the Bavarian Alps near Berchtesgaden, Bavaria, Germany.

image from: www.eagles-nest-tours.com

image from: www.eagles-nest-tours.com

After the Nazis were defeated in 1945, the house was bombed and looted by Allied troops. The shell remained but it was officially demolished by the Bavarian government in 1952 to persuade gawkers and neo-Nazis from having a shrine to their Führer.

image from: www.saak.nl

image from: www.saak.nl

Fortunately for us curious house-loving history buffs, the Berghof was widely photographed in the 1940’s so there are plenty of images of the now extinct home.

image from: evabraunhitler.blogspot.com

image from: evabraunhitler.blogspot.com

image from: www.germaniainternational.com

image from: www.germaniainternational.com

image from: www.flickr.com

image from: www.flickr.com

The Berghof started out as a much smaller, historic chalet called Haus Wachenfeld:

image from: deutschlandostmark.blogspot.com

image from: deutschlandostmark.blogspot.com

Haus Wachenfeld was built in 1916 or 1917 as a vacation home for a business man named Otto Winter. After Winter passed away in 1928, his widow rented Haus Wachenfeld to Hitler as a getaway cottage.

Below is an image of Hitler reading at a table at Haus Wachenfeld before renovations had begun:

image from: http://www.uncommon-travel-germany.com/

image from: http://www.uncommon-travel-germany.com/

Hitler was able to purchase the chalet outright in 1933 with the proceeds from the sale of his book Mein Kampf.

Photo by Heinrich Hoffmann/Hulton Archive/Getty Images

Photo by Heinrich Hoffmann/Hulton Archive/Getty Images

Hitler – who had a background in art and a finely tuned interest in architecture – helped draw up the designs to enlarge the home. The result was a greatly expanded complex that he named the Berghof.

The home under construction:

image from: www.thirdreichruins.com

image from: www.thirdreichruins.com

Hitler also made sure there was a security gate installed since he would make the Berghof not only his vacation home, but one of his two main headquarters.

Below is the front gatehouse:

image from: www.eagles-nest-tours.com

image from: www.eagles-nest-tours.com

Hitler had several headquarters throughout Europe but it was the Berghof that he preferred because of its scenic surrounds and vacation amenities. Even before the war, Hitler’s Berghof become somewhat of a tourist’s spectacle with curious onlookers peeking in the gate. Hilter had his guards establish a secure perimeter in the woods around the compound. On the property surrounding the Berghof, Hitler oversaw the building of several homes for his highest ranking officers. The area was increasingly fortified as the war progressed.

Occupants of the home included a full staff of servants and groundskeepers, various friends and family members of the Führer, and his mistress Eva Braun.

Hitler, his mistress Eva Braun, and his dog Blondi on the terrace of the Berghof

image from: http://www.uncommon-travel-germany.com/berghof.html

image from: http://www.uncommon-travel-germany.com/berghof.html

In the end, it was Eva Braun and Blondi the German Shepherd who died with Hitler in the Berlin bunker when the Nazi forces were defeated.

But during the war, Eva spent the majority of her time in seclusion at the Berghof, living quietly, but in relative luxury. The German public did not know about her until after the war so she spent her days either skiing nearby or sunbathing on the terrace of the Berghof.

image from: www.washingtonpost.com

image from: www.washingtonpost.com

There were a series of colorized photos taken by a LIFE photographer during the war in which you can see the colorful awnings of the resort-like umbrellas on the terrace:

image from: obersalzberg.canalblog.com

image from: obersalzberg.canalblog.com

In terms of the layout of the house, I was able to find this rendering of the main floor:

image from: image.frompo.com

image from: image.frompo.com

Let’s have a look inside the malevolent dictator’s diggs…

The Great Room:

image from: politicalvelcraft.org

image from: politicalvelcraft.org

Hitler reportedly chose most of the furnishings himself. The Great Hall had a red marble fireplace mantel and a projection wall & booth for screening films.

What did Hitler & company watch on the big screen? Mostly Hollywood movies that were banned everywhere else in Germany.

image from: businessecon.blogspot.com

image from: businessecon.blogspot.com

The style of decor that Hitler dictated is known as “the monumental style” which was intended to impress and even intimidate.

The Great Room was huge and had an enormous picture window that looked out at the Untersberg mountain in Austria. Hitler’s famous globe was also in this room. That globe was later taken by Allied troops before the home was completely demolished.

The Great Room with views:

image from: www.thelivingmoon.com

image from: www.thelivingmoon.com

The huge window could be lowered into the story below to give an open, Al fresco view of the snow-capped mountains.

The walls throughout the Berghof were adorned with old engravings and even some of Hitler’s small water-color sketches. The house was decorated with expensive Persian carpets, large tapestries and antique furniture – mainly 18th century German.

Hitler’s office:

image from: www.dailymail.co.uk

image from: www.dailymail.co.uk

According to Wikipedia, caged Harz Roller canaries were kept in most of the rooms in gilded cages. Not quite sure what the significance of that was. If you know – please leave a comment below!

Some of the smaller rooms meant for personal use were decorated in a more traditional German manner, like the breakfast room:

image from: researchlist.blogspot.com

image from: researchlist.blogspot.com

Hitler’s personal valet later recounted that Hitler and Eva Braun had two bedrooms and two bathrooms with interconnecting doors. Hitler would end most days at the Berghof with Eva in his study, drinking tea.

A guest room:

image from: www.dailymail.co.uk

image from: www.dailymail.co.uk

Hitler allowed the Berghof to be featured in the November 1938 issue of British Homes and Gardens magazines. There were elaborate descriptions of the palatial mountain retreat, and one direct quote from the Führer himself:

“This place is mine – I built it with money that I earned.”

Hitler at his desk in the office room at the Bergof:

image from: www.uncommon-travel-germany.com

image from: www.uncommon-travel-germany.com

Adolf Hitler’s reign of terror came to an end on April 30th, 1945 when he committed suicide in the Führerbunker of the Reich Chancellery as Soviet Troops were within one block of his location.

In late April 1945 the Berghof house was damaged by British aerial bombs. It was then set on fire by retreating SS troops in early May. When Allied soldiers reached the area, the Berghof was looted and further stripped and destroyed.

image from: forum.axishistory.com

image from: forum.axishistory.com

image from: www.scrapbookpages.com

image from: www.scrapbookpages.com

image from: www.thelocal.de

image from: www.thelocal.de

The burnt out shell was demolished by the Bavarian government in 1952.

Today, all that remains of the Bergof is the back foundation wall…

image from: flickrhivemind.net

image from: flickrhivemind.net

image from: tripreporter.co.uk

image from: tripreporter.co.uk

The driveway has been preserved, but nature has overtaken most of what Hitler built.

image from: www.flickr.com - by Buster Lung

image from: www.flickr.com – by Buster Lung

Today, the Bergof is merely a ghost house with a tragic backstory.

image from: www.youtube.com

image from: www.youtube.com

It is always a shame to see a historic home destroyed. But the Berghof was the location of much of the planning for the genocide of the Holocaust. The site was simply too sullied to even be preserved for history’s sake. To that end, I categorized this house as a “crime scene house” because I thought it was important to remember the atrocities planned and implemented by the last inhabitants of this home.

~~~

For another perspective of the tragic WW2 era in house history, you can read about Anne Frank’s house in Amsterdam.

-Peace!

 

Sources:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Berghof_%28residence%29

http://www.uncommon-travel-germany.com/berghof.html

http://www.thirdreichruins.com/berghof.htm

12 Comments

  • Nick Kirby says:

    Wonderful story.

  • Debbie B says:

    As soon as I read the line about the canaries, it struck me I had heard/read years ago about canaries being used in some kind of mine. Turns out it was in coal mines to detect gas. I couldn’t find anything in a google search about Hitler’s canaries (granted, I didn’t try very hard lol) but it makes me wonder if canaries would detect a gas leak (accidental or intentional) and keel over therefor warning humans. ??

  • Jenny Lynn says:

    This was very interesting. The way the house sat was perfect. They could really enjoy the views. Seemed very private as well.

    • housecrazy says:

      The views are stunning – there is still a hotel next door to where the Berghof stood so you can visit there and enjoy the views of the Austrian Alps.

  • Sue says:

    The grand office that is so barren and devoid of emotion gives me the creeps. Good line on the home decor being “dictated.” A great story today! I am glad his home is destroyed..good riddance.

  • betsy says:

    A beautiful home ruined by a monster. He wasn’t called a “dictator” for nothing, everything for themselves. It looks much nicer in it’s present state.

  • Ina Engel says:

    An excellent reason to demolish the house. Germany is now host to increased anti-Semitism, much of it due to denial and the refusal to admit responsibility for the atrocities. There should be no place to idolize Hitler and all he did.
    Good riddance.

  • Remove the emotion, and it/was just a lodging/house. Regardless of what was planned in it.. Doesn’t mean it should have been destroyed. I would have charged a fee to see it, and donated the proceeds to the holocaust museum etc.

  • SB Smith says:

    I can understand sending proceeds from showing the house to Holocaust museums, but I think above all, the Bavarian Gov’t didn’t want to take any chances that the house would be treated as a shrine to the sick little Nazi.
    It did have awesome views but knowing who chose the interior details just kinda ruined it for me…..Like it was all tainted…..But it was morbidly interesting and I thank you, Sarah, for posting it !

  • Arch Stanton says:

    “Hitler also had a grand office at the Berghof:” – This is a photo of Hitlers office in the Reichskanzlei in Berlin, not the Berghof. The next photo down is Hitler’s much smaller office in the Berghof.
    The destruction of the Berghof ruins in 1952 was at the behest of the U.S. Army occupational forces, not exclusively the decision of the Bavarian government.

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