Führer Headquarters

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Map showing the locations of the Führer Headquarters throughout Europe

The Führer Headquarters (Führerhauptquartiere in German), abbreviated FHQ, is a common name for a number of official headquarters used by the Nazi leader Adolf Hitler and various German commanders and officials throughout Europe during World War II.[1] Perhaps the most widely known headquarters was the Führerbunker in Berlin, Germany, where Hitler committed suicide on 30 April 1945. Other notable headquarters are the Wolfsschanze (Wolf's Lair) in East Prussia, where Claus von Stauffenberg in league with other conspirators attempted to assassinate Hitler on 20 July 1944, and Hitler's private home, the Berghof, at Obersalzberg near Berchtesgaden, where he frequently met with prominent foreign and domestic officials.

Introduction[edit]

The Kehlsteinhaus ("Eagle's Nest") (top), and the tunnel leading to it. It was associated with the Berghof which became part of the Obersalzberg military complex near Berchtesgaden. Photographed in 1945, Berchtesgaden, Germany.
The location of the Führerbunker and Vorbunker in Berlin, 1945

At the beginning of World War II there were no permanent headquarters constructed for the German supreme leader, the Führer. Hitler visited the frontlines by using either aeroplane or his special train, the Führersonderzug; thus, the Führersonderzug can be considered as the first of his field headquarters. The first permanent installation which became a Führer Headquarters was the Felsennest, which was used by Hitler during the Battle of France in May, 1940. Hitler actually spent very little time in Berlin during the war, and the most frequently used of his dwellings were without comparison the Berghof and the Wolfsschanze, spending more than 800 days at the latter.

The Führer Headquarters were especially designed to work as command facilities for the Führer, which meant all necessary demands were taken into consideration; communications, conference rooms, safety measures, bunkers, guard facilities etc. were prepared accordingly. Even Berghof and the Obersalzberg complex were modified and extended with considerable defense facilities (bunkers, guard posts etc.). The Wehrmachtbericht, a daily report on the situation at the front, was also broadcast from the Führer Headquarters.

The Führer Headquarters cannot be considered as strict military headquarters; the Wehrmacht had their own, distinctly located in other places, yet often in the vicinity of the FHQs. Nevertheless, since Hitler very frequently intervened in the military command structure, the FHQs more than often became de facto military headquarters. In reality, the Führer Headquarters consisted of Adolf Hitler and his entourage, including the Oberkommando der Wehrmacht (OKW) (directly controlled by Hitler), liaison officers and adjutants.

Notes on the term[edit]

Every place Hitler ever stayed at cannot be considered as Führer Headquarters, and he did not stay at every official FHQ. Furthermore, some sources may not refer to the Berghof and the Führerbunker strictly as official German Führerhauptquartiere at that time in history, but both of them became de facto Führer Headquarters; thus, they are historically often referred to as such. The Berghof was modified in much the same way as other FHQs,[2] and Hitler had daily conferences on military matters here at the latter part of the war.[2] The "Eagle's Nest", i.e. the Kehlsteinhaus, was rarely used and may not be considered a FHQ as such alone; however it was associated with the Berghof and part of the Obersalzberg military complex.

The Führerbunker was located about 8.2 metres (26.9 feet) beneath the garden of the old Reich Chancellery building (at Wilhelmstraße 77), about 120 metres (131 yards) north of Hitler's new Reich Chancellery building, (at Voßstraße 6) in Berlin. It became a de facto Führer Headquarters during the Battle of Berlin, and ultimately, the last one of his headquarters.[3]

Headquarters locations[edit]

There were about 14 known completed Führer Headquarters (of about 20 planned):[4]

Name Alternative designations Location Build started Completed Usage as Führer Headquarters
Adlerhorst[5] Mühle (OT)
Bauvorhaben Z
Lager K
Bauvorhaben C
Bad Nauheim, Germany 1 Sep 1939 yes yes – used by Hitler during the Ardennes offensive
Anlage Mitte[5] Askania Mitte Tomaszów Mazowiecki, Poland 1 Dec 1940 yes no – only industry
Anlage Riese[4] none Wałbrzych (Waldenburg), Poland Oct 1943 no no
Anlage Süd[5] Askania Süd Strzyżów, Poland 1 Oct 1940 yes yes, Hitler met with Mussolini here on 27–28 August 1941[5]
Berghof[4]/"Eagle's Nest" none Obersalzberg, Berchtesgaden, Germany ? yes yes – also thought by the Allies to be within a conceivable Alpenfestung "last stand" territory of the Third Reich
Bärenhöhle[6] none Smolensk, Russia 1 Oct 1941 yes no – used only by Heeresgruppe Mitte
Felsennest[7] none Rodert, Bad Münstereifel, Germany 1940 yes yes, used by Hitler during the Battle of France in May, 1940
Führerbunker[8] none Berlin, Germany 1943 yes yes, Hitler committed suicide here in 1945
Führersonderzug[1] (a special train)

"Amerika", "Brandenburg"

various (movable) 1939? yes yes
Olga[4] none 200 km north of Minsk, Belarus 1 July 1943 no no
S III[4] Wolfsturm, Olga etc. Ohrdruf, Germany Autumn 1944 (?) no no
Siegfried[4] none Pullach, Germany ? ? ?
Tannenberg[9] none Freudenstadt/Kniebis, Germany 1 Oct 1939 yes yes (27 June – 5 July 1940)
W3 none Saint-Rimay by Vendôme, France 1 May 1942 no no
Waldwiese[6] none Glan-Münchweiler, Germany 1 Oct 1939 yes no
Wasserburg[6] none Pskow (Pleskau), Russia 1 Nov 1942 yes no (assigned to Heeresgruppe Nord)
Werwolf[5] Eichenhain Vinnytsia, Ukraine 1 Nov 1941 yes yes
Wolfsschanze[10] Askania Nord, "Wolf's Lair" Kętrzyn (Rastenburg), Poland 1 Dec 1940 yes yes, site of the failed 20 July plot on Hitler's life
Wolfsschlucht I[11] none Brûly-de-Pesche near Couvin, Belgium 1 May 1940 yes yes
Wolfsschlucht II[5] W2 Margival, France 1 Sep 1942 yes yes
Zigeuner[4] Brunhilde Thionville, France 1 Apr 1944 no no

Special Train (Führersonderzug)[edit]

The Führer '​s Austria, during the Balkans Campaign in early 1941. The train was ironically named Führersonderzug "Amerika" in 1940, and later Führersonderzug "Brandenburg". After the Balkans Campaign the train was not used as a Führer Headquarters, but Hitler used it throughout the war when he travelled between Berlin, Berchtesgaden, Munich and other headquarters.

The exact consist of the train is not known, but some details were revealed by the departure information "Bln 2009", when the train departed the Anhalter Bahnhof in Berlin on 23 June 1941, arriving at Wolfsschanze on 24 June 1941;

The individual 17 components (locomotives and cars) in order were:[4]

  • Two BR52 Class locomotives
  • a special Flakwagen armoured anti-aircraft train flatbed car with two anti-aircraft guns, most often a pair of Flakvierling cannon batteries, one at each end of the car
  • a baggage car
  • the Führerwagen, which Hitler used
  • a Befehlswagen (command car), including a conference room and a communications center
  • a Begleitkommandowagen, for the accompanying Reichssicherheitsdienst
  • a dining car
  • two cars for guests
  • a Badewagen (bathing car)
  • another dining car
  • two sleeping cars for personnel
  • a Pressewagen
  • another baggage car
  • another Flakwagen

Otto Dietrich indicates that the Flakwagen never had to be used when Hitler was travelling. The "Pressewagen" was to receive and release press reports, not for journalists.[12]

There were other special trains (Sonderzüge in German) used by prominent German officials;[5][6]

  • Ministerzug (Ministers' Train), used by Joachim von Ribbentrop and Heinrich Himmler
  • Sonderzug "Afrika" (also called ""Braunschweig"), used by the chief of the Armed Forces High Command (Oberkommando der Wehrmacht (OKW))
  • Sonderzug "Asien" (also called "Pommern"), used by Hermann Göring
  • Sonderzug "Atlantik" (also called "Auerhahn"), used by the supreme commander of the Navy (Kriegsmarine)
  • Sonderzug "Atlas" (also called "Franken"), a command train used by the Armed Forces Operations Staff (Wehrmachtführungsstabes)
  • Sonderzug "Enzian", a command train used by the chief of the Intelligence branch of the Luftwaffe (Nachrichtenwesens der Luftwaffe)
  • Sonderzug "Ostpreußen" (also called "Sonderzug 4"), used by the Army General Staff (Oberkommando des Heeres (OKH))
  • Sonderzug "Robinson 1", used by the chief of the Command Staff of the Luftwaffe
  • Sonderzug "Robinson 2", used by the chief of the General Staff of the Luftwaffe
  • Sonderzug "Steiermark" (also called "Heinrich" and "Transport 44"), used by Heinrich Himmler
  • Sonderzug "Westfalen", used by Joachim von Ribbentrop
  • Sonderzug "Württemberg", used by the Army General Staff (Gen. St.d. H. – Generalstabs des Heeres)

See also[edit]

References[edit]

Notes
  1. ^ a b Raiber, Richard, Guide to Hitler's Headquarters, After The Battle, No. 19, Introduction and p. 1.
  2. ^ a b Eberle, Henrik and Uhl, Matthias, The Unknown Hitler, 11th chapter, pp. 199–200
  3. ^ Beevor, Antony, Berlin: The Downfall 1945, p. 357
  4. ^ a b c d e f g h Raiber, Richard, Guide to Hitler's Headquarters, After The Battle, No. 19, p. 2.
  5. ^ a b c d e f g Raiber, Richard, Guide to Hitler's Headquarters, After The Battle, No.19, pp. 48–51.
  6. ^ a b c d Der Kommandant Führerhauptquartier from Das Bundesarchiv (German, www.bundesarchiv.de)
  7. ^ Raiber, Richard, Guide to Hitler's Headquarters, After The Battle, No. 19, p. 4.
  8. ^ The Berlin Führerbunker: The Thirteenth Hole, After the Battle, No.61 Special Edition (entire)
  9. ^ Raiber, Richard, Guide to Hitler's Headquarters, After The Battle, No. 19, p. 18.
  10. ^ Raiber, Richard, Guide to Hitler's Headquarters, After The Battle, No. 19, p. 28.
  11. ^ Raiber, Richard, Guide to Hitler's Headquarters, After the Battle, No. 19, p. 10.
  12. ^ Otto Dietrich. The Hitler I Knew. Memoirs of the Third Reich's Press Chief. Skyhorse Publishing (2010). p. 189. ISBN 978-1-60239-972-3. 
Bibliography
  • Beevor, Antony, Berlin: The Downfall 1945, Penguin Books, 2002, ISBN 0-670-88695-5
  • Eberle, Henrik and Uhl, Matthias, The Unknown Hitler
  • Hansen, Hans-Josef: Felsennest - Das vergessene Führerhauptquartier in der Eifel. Bau, Nutzung, Zerstörung. Aachen 2006, Helios-Verlag, ISBN 3-938208-21-X.
  • Kuffner, Alexander: Zeitreiseführer Eifel 1933-45. Helios, Aachen 2007, ISBN 978-3-938208-42-7.
  • Raiber, Richard, Guide to Hitler's Headquarters, After the Battle, No.19, Special Edition, Battle of Britain International Ltd, 1977, London
  • Ramsey, Winston G. (editor) & Posch, Tom (researcher), The Berlin Führerbunker: The Thirteenth Hole, After the Battle, No.61, Special Edition, Battle of Britain International Ltd, 1988, London
  • Pierre Rhode/Werner Sünkel: Wolfsschlucht 2 – Autopsie eines Führerhauptquartiers, Verlag Werner Sünkel Geschichte+Technik, Leinburg 1993, ISBN 3-930060-81-7
  • Werner Sünkel/Rudolf Rack/Pierre Rhode: Adlerhorst – Autopsie eines Führerhauptquartiers, Verlag Werner Sünkel Geschichte +Technik, Offenhausen 1998, ISBN 3-930060-97-3
  • von Loringhoven, Bernd Freytag/d’Alançon, François: Mit Hitler im Bunker. Aufzeichnungen aus dem Führerhauptquartier Juli 1944 – April 1945. Berlin 2005, wjs-Verlag, ISBN 3-937989-14-5.
  • Schulz, Alfons: Drei Jahre in der Nachrichtenzentrale des Führerhauptquartiers. Christiana-Verlag, Stein am Rhein. 2. Aufl. 1997. ISBN 3-7171-1028-4.
  • Seidler, Franz W./Zeigert, Dieter : Die Führerhauptquartiere. Anlagen und Planungen im Zweiten Weltkrieg. München: Herbig 2000. ISBN 3-7766-2154-0.

External links[edit]