Underneath this vacation destination on the border of Germany and Austria lies a dark history from WWII. Behind the stunning mountaintop views in Berchtesgaden lies an intricate network of bunkers and Nazi tunnels.
Berchtesgaden was once Adolf Hitler‘s favorite spot. He began to frequently visit the Alpine resort town in Germany during the mid-1920s and rented a small cabin there. It is also where the infamous dictator wrote the second half of Mein Kampf.
Hitler then built a bigger mansion on top of a 6,000-foot-high peak to celebrate his fiftieth birthday, which is now known as the Eagle’s Nest. The huge mansion was only reachable via the highest road in Germany. At the end of the same road, there is a tunnel which leads to a solid brass elevator. This elevator was used by Hitler to reach his mansion. Surprisingly enough, it is still functional today.
But history has it that Hitler rarely spent time at the Eagle’s Nest because ironically, he was suffering from vertigo and claustrophobia, so passing through a tunnel would be hard for him.
To solve his dilemma, Hitler built himself another mansion not far from the Eagle’s Nest in the mid-1930s. From his new residence, he was able to see a spectacular view of his native Austria beyond the picturesque Alpine mountains.
While the secluded mountain town was a mystery to the Allies, they were able to carry out aerial surveillance. Analysis found that the Nazis were using the intricate underground network to build weapons and using their scientist to research and build was was later to become the atomic bomb.
Himmler, Goering, Hess, and Goebbels, top Nazi party members, and Hitler’s close confidants began to build decedent homes in the village near the mountain.
To accommodate the needs of the growing Nazi party, they built a cider press, outdoor swimming pools, bowling alleys, and a movie theater for their families. A workers’ camp was also erected for the well-paid and high-skilled Italian laborers.
But their abode in the mountains did not stay peaceful. In 1943, the Allies made significant gains in Italy, and the Nazi elites feared that the war might find their way to their lavish homes.
Nazis soon began constructing subterranean apartments in the 4-mile-long tunnel system connected from their homes. Facilities for families, medical staff, and storm troops were also built underneath in case of attack.
The underground hideouts in the tunnel were constructed as luxurious-looking as their homes atop. It was even discovered that Goering had a collection of distinctive champagnes and wines and legendary artworks in his underground bunker.
In April 1945, the mansions in Hitler’s mountain town in Berchtesgaden were bombed by the Royal Air Force, but Hitler’s Eagle’s Nest compound was left untouched during the air raid. All 2,000 residents remained safe in the secret bunkers and underground tunnels at the time. As a result, only six lives were lost in the attack.
A few weeks after the attack, the US and French military took over the remains of Berchtesgaden, and even Eagle’s Nest.
The Nazi architectural relics have now become private residences, luxury hotels, and tourist attractions. Hitler’s Eagle’s Nest was turned into a beer garden and restaurant in the mid-1950s, which, until today, is still operating during the summer months.
Here is tour to the Nazis’ underground tunnel below.
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