Hitler's Last Refuge: Führerbunker (LARGE IMAGES)

The story of Hitler as he faced defeat and death in the last days of April, 1945 is a gripping. Fuhrer Bunker, in the heart of Berlin was a structure of concrete and steel. This is where Hitler lived from January, 1945 till his suicide in April, 1945.

 Hitler's bunker in 1946. The dome-shaped structure is the shelter for the guards

The Führerbunker  was located beneath Hitler's New Reich Chancellery in Berlin, Germany. It was part of a subterranean bunker complex which was constructed in two major phases, one part in 1936 and the other in 1943. It was the last of the Führer Headquarters (Führerhauptquartiere) to be used by Hitler.

Adolf Hitler took up residence in the Führerbunker in January 1945 and until the last week of the war it became the epicentre of the Nazi regime. It was here during the last week of April 1945 that Hitler married Eva Braun shortly before they committed suicide.

The ruins of both the old and new Chancellery buildings were levelled by the Soviets between 1945 and 1949 but the bunker largely survived, although some areas were partially flooded. Apart from one unsuccessful attempt by the government of East Germany in 1959 to blow it up, the underground complex remained largely undisturbed, until after the reunification of Germany. During the reconstruction of that area of Berlin after reunification, those sections of the complex that were excavated were for the most part destroyed.

The site remained unmarked until 2006 when a small plaque was installed with a schematic of the bunker to mark the location. Some of the corridors of the bunker still exist today, sealed off from the public.

 This is where Hitler and Eva Braun's bodies were burnt

The Reich Chancellery bunker was initially constructed as a temporary air-raid shelter for Hitler, but the increased bombing of Berlin led to expansion of the complex as an improvised permanent shelter. The elaborate complex consisted of two separate levels, the Vorbunker (the upper bunker) or "forward bunker" and the newer Führerbunker located one level below. They were connected by a stairway set at right angles (they were not spiral) which could be closed off from each other by a bunkhead and steel door. The Führerbunker was located about 8.2 metres beneath the garden of the old Reich Chancellery building at Wilhelmstraße 77, about 120 metres north of the new Reich Chancellery building, which had the address Voßstraße 6. The Vorbunker was located beneath the large reception hall behind the old Reich Chancellery, which was connected to the new Reich Chancellery. The Führerbunker was located somewhat lower than the Vorbunker and to the west-south-west of it.

The complex was protected by approximately four metres of concrete, and about 30 small rooms were distributed over two levels with exits into the main buildings and an emergency exit into the gardens. The complex was built in two distinct phases, one part in 1936 and the other in 1943. The 1943 development was built by the Hochtief company as part of an extensive program of subterranean construction in Berlin begun in 1940. The accommodations for Hitler were in the newer, lower section and by February 1945 had been decorated with high quality furniture taken from the Chancellery along with several framed oil paintings.

On 16 January 1945, Hitler moved into the Führerbunker. He was joined by his senior staff, Martin Bormann, and later, Eva Braun and Joseph Goebbels with Magda and their six children who took residence in the upper Vorbunker. Two or three dozen support, medical and administrative staff were also sheltered there. These included Hitler's secretaries (including Traudl Junge), a nurse named Erna Flegel and telephonist Rochus Misch. Hitler's dog Blondi was also one of the occupants of the underground bunker. Initially, Hitler would often stroll around in the chancellery garden with Blondi until March 1945 when shelling became very common.

The bunker complex was supplied with large quantities of food and other necessities and by all accounts successfully protected its occupants from the relentless and lethal shelling that went on overhead in the closing days of April 1945. In the final days of the war, it is said that Hitler still enjoyed 10 to 16 cups of tea per day even though it was hard to obtain. Many witnesses later spoke of the constant droning sound of the underground complex's ventilation system.

On 16 April the Red Army started the Battle of Berlin by attacking German front line positions on the rivers Oder and Neisse. By 19 April Soviet spearheads had broken through the German lines and were starting to encircle Berlin.

On 20 April, his 56th birthday, Hitler made his last trip to the surface to award Iron Crosses to some boy soldiers of the Hitler Youth.

On 21 April Hitler gave orders which showed that his grasp of the military situation was gone. He ordered German army formations to counter attack to pinch off the two massive Soviet pincers that were encircling Berlin. The northern attack was to be commanded by SS-General Felix Steiner's Army Detachment. Steiner tried to explain to his superiors that the only offensive capability he had was two battalions of the 4th SS Police Division and they had no heavy weapons. No one passed on this information to Hitler. The southern counter attack was also unrealistic, because the German Ninth Army was being pushed back into the Halbe pocket.

On April 22, at his afternoon situation conference Hitler fell into a tearful rage when he realised that his plans of the day before were not going to be carried out. Hitler openly declared for the first time the war was lost and blamed the generals. Hitler announced he would stay in Berlin until the end and then shoot himself. In an attempt to coax Hitler out of his rage, General Alfred Jodl speculated that the German Twelfth Army, under the command of General Walther Wenck, that was facing the Americans, could move to Berlin because the Americans, already on the Elbe River, were unlikely to move farther east. Hitler immediately seized on the idea and within hours Wenck was ordered to disengage from the Americans and move the Twelfth Army north-east to support Berlin. It was then realized that, if the Ninth Army moved west, it could link up with the Twelfth Army. In the evening Heinrici was given permission to make the link up.

On 23 April, Hitler appointed German General of the Artillery (General der Artillerie) Helmuth Weidling as the commander of the Berlin Defense Area. Only a day earlier, Hitler had ordered that Weidling be executed by firing squad. This was due to a misunderstanding concerning a retreat order issued by Weidling as commander of the LVI Panzer Corps. On 20 April, Weidling had been appointed commander of the LVI Panzer Corps. Weidling replaced Lieutenant-Colonel (Oberstleutnant) Ernst Kaether as commander of Berlin.

Despite the commands issuing from the Führerbunker by April 25 the Soviets had consolidated their investment of Berlin and leading Soviet units were probing and penetrating the S-Bahn defensive ring. By the end of 25 April there was no prospect that the German defence of the city could do anything but delay the capture of the city by the Soviets as the decisive stages of the battle had already been fought and lost by the Germans outside the city.

It is on this beautiful day that we celebrate the Fuhrers birthday and thank him for he is the only reason why Germany is still alive today . 
-Josef Goebbels - Ministry of Propaganda - 26th April 1945

Hitler summoned Field Marshal Robert Ritter von Greim from Munich to Berlin to take over command of the Luftwaffe from Göring. On 26 April while flying over Berlin in a Fieseler Storch, von Greim was seriously wounded by Soviet anti-aircraft fire. Hanna Reitsch, his mistress and a crack test pilot, landed von Greim on an improvised air strip in the Tiergarten near the Brandenburg Gate.

On 28 April, Hitler learned of Reichsführer-SS Heinrich Himmler's contacts with Count Folke Bernadotte in Lübeck. Himmler had offered surrender to the western Allies and the offer had been declined. Himmler had implied that he had the authority for such a surrender. Hitler considered this treason and his anger poured out into a rage against Himmler. Hitler had Hermann Fegelein (Himmler's SS representative at Hitler's HQ in Berlin) shot. Hitler further ordered von Greim (with Reitsch) to fly to Dönitz's headquarters at Ploen and arrest the "traitor" Himmler.

General Hans Krebs made his last telephone call from the Führerbunker. He called Field Marshal Wilhelm Keitel Chief of OKW (German Armed Forces High Command) in Fürstenberg. Krebs told Keitel that, if relief did not arrive within 48 hours, all would be lost. Keitel promised to exert the utmost pressure on Generals Walther Wenck, commander of Twelfth Army, and Theodor Busse commander of the Ninth Army. Meanwhile, Martin Bormann wired to German Admiral Karl Dönitz: "Reich Chancellery (Reichskanzlei) a heap of rubble." He went on to say that the foreign press was reporting fresh acts of treason and "that without exception Schörner, Wenck and the others must give evidence of their loyalty by the quickest relief of the Führer". Bormann was the head of the Nazi Party Chancellery (Parteikanzlei) and Hitler's private secretary.

During the evening, von Greim and Reitsch flew out from Berlin in an Arado Ar 96 trainer. Field Marshal von Greim was ordered to get the Luftwaffe to attack the Soviet forces that had just reached Potsdamerplatz (only a city block from the Führerbunker). Fearing that Hitler was escaping in the plane, troops of the Soviet 3rd Shock Army, which was fighting its way through the Tiergarten from the north, tried to shoot the Arado down. The Soviet troops failed in their efforts and the plane took off successfully.

During the night of 28 April, General Wenck reported to Keitel that his Twelfth Army had been forced back along the entire front. This was particularly true of XX Corps that had been able to establish temporary contact with the Potsdam garrison. According to Wenck, no relief for Berlin by his army was now possible. This was even more so as support from the Ninth Army could no longer be expected. Keitel gave Wenck permission to break off his attempt to relieve Berlin.

After midnight on 29 April, Hitler married Eva Braun in a small civil ceremony in a map room within the Führerbunker. Thereafter, Hitler then took secretary Traudl Junge to another room and dictated his last will and testament. At approximately 4:00 AM, Hans Krebs, Wilhelm Burgdorf, Joseph Goebbels, and Martin Bormann witnessed and signed the documents.  Hitler then retired to bed.

Late in the evening of 29 April, Krebs contacted General Alfred Jodl (Supreme Army Command) by radio: "Request immediate report. Firstly of the whereabouts of Wenck's spearheads. Secondly of time intended to attack. Thirdly of the location of the Ninth Army. Fourthly of the precise place in which the Ninth Army will break through. Fifthly of the whereabouts of General Rudolf Holste's spearhead." In the early morning of 30 April, Jodl replied to Krebs: "Firstly, Wenck's spearhead bogged down south of Schwielow Lake. Secondly, Twelfth Army therefore unable to continue attack on Berlin. Thirdly, bulk of Ninth Army surrounded. Fourthly, Holste's Corps on the defensive."

During the morning of April 30, SS Brigadeführer Wilhelm Mohnke, commander of the centre (government) district of Berlin, informed Hitler the center would be able to hold for less than two days. Later that morning Weidling informed Hitler in person that the defenders would probably exhaust their ammunition that night and again asked Hitler permission to break out. At about 13:00 Weidling, who was back in his headquarters in the Bendlerblock, finally received Hitler's permission to attempt a breakout. During the afternoon Hitler shot himself and Braun took cyanide. In accordance with Hitler's instructions, the bodies were burned in the garden behind the Reich Chancellery. In accordance with Hitler's last will and testament, Joseph Goebbels, the Minister for Public Enlightenment and Propaganda, became the new "Head of Government" and Chancellor of Germany (Reichskanzler). At 3:15 am, Reichskanzler Goebbels and Bormann sent a radio message to Admiral Karl Dönitz informing him of Hitler's death. In accordance with Hitler's last wishes, Dönitz was appointed as the new "President of Germany" (Reichspräsident).

By the end of that same day, 30 April, the Soviets had captured the Reichstag, which was of huge symbolic importance to the Soviets and one of the last German strong points defending the area around the Reich Chancellery and the Führerbunker.

At about 04:00 on 1 May, Krebs talked to General Vasily Chuikov commander of the Soviet 8th Guards Army. Krebs returned empty handed after refusing to agree to an unconditional surrender. Only Reichskanzler Goebbels now had the authority to agree to an unconditional surrender. In the late afternoon, Goebbels had his children poisoned. At about 20:00, Goebbels and his wife, Magda, left the bunker; close to the entrance they bit on a cyanide ampule and either shot themselves at the same time or were given a coup de grâce by the SS guard detailed to dispose of their bodies.

Weidling had given the order for the survivors to break out to the northwest starting at around 21:00 on 1 May. The breakout started later than planned at around 23:00. The first group from the Reich Chancellery led by Mohnke avoided the Weidendammer bridge over which the mass breakout took place and crossed by a footbridge, but Mohnke's group became split (Mohnke could not break through the Soviet rings and was captured the next day and like others who were captured and had been in the Führerbunker was interrogated by SMERSH). A Tiger tank that spearheaded the first attempt to storm the Weidendammer bridge was destroyed. There followed two more attempts and on the third attempt, made around 1:00 (2 May), Martin Bormann in another group from the Reich Chancellery managed to cross the Spree. He was reported to have died a short distance from the bridge, his body was seen and identified by Arthur Axmann who followed the same route.

Ironically the last defenders of the bunker were the French SS volunteers of the 33rd Waffen Grenadier Division of the SS Charlemagne (1st French) who remained at the bunker until the early morning of May 2 to prevent the Russians from capturing the bunker on May Day.

At 01:00 the Soviets picked up radio message from the German LVI Corps requesting a cease-fire and stating that emissaries would come under a white flag to Potsdamer bridge. Early in the morning of 2 May the Soviets stormed the Reich Chancellery. General Weidling surrendered with his staff at 06:00.

General Burgdorf (who played a key role in the death of Erwin Rommel) and General Krebs chose to commit suicide rather than attempt to break out. Few people remained in the bunker, and they were subsequently captured by Soviet troops on 2 May. Soviet intelligence operatives investigating the complex found more than a dozen bodies (the persons had apparently committed suicide) along with the cinders of many burned papers and documents.

Source: Wikipedia

The canisters of fuel that were used to burn the bodies


The ruins of both the old and new Chancellery buildings were levelled by the Soviets between 1945 and 1949 but the bunker largely survived, although some areas were partially flooded. In 1947 the Soviets tried to blow up the bunker but only the separation walls were damaged. In 1959 the East German government also tried to blast the bunker, apparently without much effect. Since it was near the Berlin Wall, the site was undeveloped and neglected until after reunification. During the construction of residential housing and other buildings on the site in 1988–89 several underground sections of the old bunker were uncovered by work crews and were for the most part destroyed.

The former Chancellery was situated at the corner of Wilhelmstraße and Voßstraße. Other parts of the Chancellery underground complex were uncovered during extensive construction work in the 1990s, but these were ignored, filled in or quickly resealed.

Since 1945 government authorities have been consistently concerned about the site of the bunker evolving into a Neo-Nazi shrine. The strategy for avoiding this has largely been to ensure the surroundings remain anonymous and unremarkable. In 2005 the location of the bunker was not marked. The immediate area was occupied by a small Chinese restaurant and shopping centre while the emergency exit point for the bunker (which had been in the Chancellery gardens) was occupied by a car park.

On June 8, 2006, due to the 2006 FIFA World Cup a small plaque was installed with a schematic of the bunker to mark the location. The plaque can be found at the corner of In den Ministergärten and Gertrud-Kolmar-Straße, two small streets about three minutes' walk from Potsdamer Platz. Hitler's bodyguard, Rochus Misch, one of the last people living who was in the bunker at the time of Hitler's suicide, was on hand for the ceremony.


 The ruins of the Fuhrerbunker after it was demolished in 1947

In June 1945, the Soviets announced - falsely - that Hitler's remains had not been found and that he was probably still alive.

This announcement caused a predictable flurry of "Hitler sightings" across Europe. Allied officers sought to establish beyond possible doubt that Hitler had indeed died in his bunker. To that end, they interrogated various members of Hitler's personal staff who had been with the dictator in late April 1945.

The historian Hugh Trevor-Roper, who served as a British military intelligence officer during the war, used these accounts to investigate the circumstances of Hitler's death and rebut claims that Hitler was still alive and living somewhere in the West. He published an account of his findings in 1947 in his book The Last Days of Hitler.

At the end of the Second World War various members of Hitler's personal staff, who had been with him in the bunker during April 1945, were interrogated by Allied officers seeking to establish beyond possible doubt that Hitler had died.

Their questioning concentrated on the events that took place in the Bunker during the last days of April. By then the Red Army had surrounded Berlin and the sound of shellfire could be heard clearly from within the Führerbunker.

Source: mi5



July 1947 photo of the rear entrance to the Führerbunker, in the garden of the Reich Chancellery; Hitler and Eva Braun were cremated in a shellhole in front of the emergency exit at left; the cone shaped structure in the center served as the exhaust and bomb shelter for the guards.

Hitler retreated to the bunker in January 1945 as the Russians advanced across Poland towards eastern Germany and the Allied airforces devastated Berlin with bombing raids. By the start of April 1945, 2.5 million Russian soldiers had reached the German capital. Two weeks later, they had reached the city centre and were fighting within only a few hundred yards of Hitler's refuge.

In the small hours of 28-29 April Hitler dictated his will, in the form of a political and personal testament, to Gertrud "Traudl" Junge, who was one of his secretaries. Soon afterwards Hitler and his mistress Eva Braun were married.

Accounts from two of the secretaries present recorded that they had been called together to see the newly married couple. Hitler and Eva emerged from the map-room where the marriage ceremony had taken place, accompanied by Goebbels, his wife Magda and Hitler's private secretary Martin Bormann. Turning to Hitler's personal secretary, Gerda Christian, Eva pointed to the wedding ring on her finger and received her congratulations.

A party followed to celebrate the occasion. According to Christian, Hitler talked mostly of the past and of happier times. However, he admitted to her that he knew the war was lost. He added that he would never allow himself to be taken prisoner by the Russians but intended to shoot himself. He confided to Junge that the wedding had been an emotional experience, but that for him death would only mean a personal redemption of his many worries and of what had been a very difficult life.

Christian, who was accustomed to joining Hitler and Eva for certain meals, was invited to the wedding breakfast after the ceremony but left early, telling Junge that she had been unable to stand the atmosphere of gloom and despondency.

Source: mi5.gov.uk

 The spot where the bodies of Hitler and Eva Braun were burnt hurriedly. Russian forensic experts at the site

On the morning of 29 April the inhabitants of the bunker received news of the execution by Italian partisans of Mussolini and his mistress, Claretta Petacci. One of those interrogated commented that this would have served to reinforce Hitler's determination that neither he nor Eva Braun should face this fate.

Hitler ordered his staff to prepare for the end. An eyewitness noted that Hitler's SS bodyguards were destroying his personal papers. Elsewhere one of the doctors was instructed by Hitler to poison Blondi, his Alsatian dog, and Eva Braun's spaniel. The eyewitnesses also described how in the afternoon of 29 April Hitler went from room to room shaking hands with all but his immediate staff, saying a few words of encouragement and thanks to each.

By the morning of 30 April Russian forces had reached the nearby Potsdamer Platz and the sounds of battle were all around. One version on record suggests that Eva was overheard crying, "I would rather die here. I do not want to escape". She and Hitler later emerged from their suite, their personal staff having been assembled, and went round the room shaking hands silently. Everyone knew that the time had come.

Junge recalled that she and Christian both asked Hitler for a poison capsule, having noted the rapid effect that the poison had had on Hitler's dog. Hitler gave them one each, saying as he did so that he was sorry he had no better parting gift and that he wished his generals had been as poised and brave as they were. Eva embraced Junge and, in what seems to have been her last recorded words said, "Take my fur coat as a memory. I always like well-dressed women". Then, saying "It is finished, goodbye", Hitler took Eva back into their rooms for the last time. During the afternoon Hitler shot himself and Eva took the poison capsule that he had given her.

 The spot again. The bodies were burnt and buried here

Reconstruction of the gruesome end of Adolph Hitler

Soon afterwards their bodies were carried up the stairs to a small garden outside the door to the bunker complex. Hitler's driver, another of those interrogated, helped carry Eva's body some of the way and noted that once there it was placed on the ground beside Hitler's. He told his interrogators he had noticed that she had been wearing a blue summer dress made of real silk, that her shoes had cork heels, and that her hair was "artificially blonde".

Moments later the same witness saw a party including Goebbels and Bormann gathered beside the bodies. One of them poured petrol from a can over the bodies. They then retired to the safety of a doorway with the sound of Russian artillery all around them. Hitler's adjutant lit a petrol-soaked rag and threw it on the bodies, which immediately burst into flames. The group made the Hitlergruss (the Nazi salute) and withdrew.

One of the bunker guards arrived late on the scene. He described how he was greatly startled to see the two bodies burst into flames as if by spontaneous combustion. He had been unable to see the Goebbels party concealed in a doorway and only later was told the true circumstances.

The bodies were only partly destroyed by the fire and were later hastily buried in a shallow bomb crater. According to Russian reports, the bodies were exhumed by Soviet troops and taken to Magdeburg in East Germany where Hitler's body was said to have been finally destroyed in April 1970 by the KGB. Two fragments of the body, a jawbone and skull, were preserved. They were displayed in an exhibition at the Russian Federal Archives in Moscow in April 2000.

Hitler's final days in the Berlin bunker have been portrayed in several films, most recently Oliver Hirschbiegel's 2004 film Der Untergang ("Downfall").

 Semyon Budyonny at the Fuhrerbunker. Buyonny (April 25 O.S. April 13 1883 – October 26, 1973) was a Soviet cavalryman, military commander, politician and a close ally of Soviet leader Joseph Stalin.

Churchill at the Fuhrerbunker. He must have enjoyed it.

Churchill again


Downfall Movie
The riveting subject of Downfall is nothing less than the disintegration of Adolf Hitler in mind, body, and soul. A 2005 Academy Award nominee for best foreign language film, this German historical drama stars Bruno Ganz (Wings of Desire) as Hitler, whose psychic meltdown is depicted in sobering detail, suggesting a fallen, pathetic dictator on the verge on insanity, resorting to suicide (along with Eva Braun and Joseph and Magda Goebbels) as his Nazi empire burns amidst chaos in mid-1945. While staging most of the film in the claustrophobic bunker where Hitler spent his final days, director Oliver Hirschbiegel (Das Experiment) dares to show the gentler human side of der Fuehrer, as opposed to the pure embodiment of evil so familiar from many other Nazi-era dramas. This balanced portrayal does not inspire sympathy, however: We simply see the complexity of Hitler's character in the greater context of his inevitable downfall, and a more realistic (and therefore more horrifying) biographical portrait of madness on both epic and intimate scales. By ending with a chilling clip from the 2002 documentary Blind Spot: Hitler's Secretary, this unforgettable film gains another dimension of sobering authenticity. 
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Points To Ponder


It is difficult to distinguish between the quality of both the German and Russian soldiers. Both were motivated by their love for their motherland. But there were others factors that drove the two sides to such desperate fighting.

One, both sides knew that this was a no-holds bar war. Not fighting was thus not an option.

Second, both Hitler and Stalin had squads that killed any deserter. Turning away from fighting was just not possible.

Thus was seen some of the most bitter, brutal and desperate fighting on the WW2 eastern (Russian) Front.
"Those who do not remember the past are condemned to repeat it."
-- George Santayana


"Be polite; write diplomatically; even in a declaration of war one observes the rules of politeness."
--Otto von Bismarck

"When the enemy advances, withdraw; when he stops, harass; when he tires, strike; when he retreats, pursue.'
--Mao Zedong


"The main thing is to make history, not to write it."
--Otto von Bismarck

"When you have to kill a man it costs nothing to be polite."
--Winston Churchill


"In time of war the loudest patriots are the greatest profiteers."
--August Bebel

"God is not on the side of the big battalions, but on the side of those who shoot best."

Quotes about War....

"Anyone who has ever looked into the glazed eyes of a soldier dying on the battlefield will think hard before starting a war."
---Otto von Bismarck


"Naturally the common people don't want war; neither in Russia, nor in England, nor in America, nor in Germany. That is understood. But after all, it is the leaders of the country who determine policy, and it is always a simple matter to drag the people along, whether it is a democracy, or a fascist dictatorship, or a parliament, or a communist dictatorship. Voice or no voice, the people can always be brought to the bidding of the leaders. That is easy. All you have to do is to tell them they are being attacked, and denounce the pacifists for lack of patriotism and exposing the country to danger. It works the same in any country."
--Hermann Goering


"To conquer the enemy without resorting to war is the most desirable. The highest form of generalship is to conquer the enemy by strategy."
--Tzu Sun

"All men are brothers, like the seas throughout the world; So why do winds and waves clash so fiercely everywhere?"
--Emperor Hirohito