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The Eagle's Nest at Obersalzberg in Berchtesgaden
|Town or city||Berchtesgaden|
|Elevation||1,834 m (6,017 ft)|
|Inaugurated||20 April 1939|
|Owner||Adolf Hitler, German Landmark|
The Kehlsteinhaus (in English-speaking countries also known as the Eagle's Nest) is a chalet-style structure erected on a subpeak of the Hoher Göll known as the Kehlstein. It was built as an extension of the Obersalzberg complex erected in the mountains above Berchtesgaden. The Kehlsteinhaus was intended as a 50th birthday present for Adolf Hitler to serve as a retreat, and a place for him to entertain visiting dignitaries.
Construction and usage
The Kehlsteinhaus was commissioned by Martin Bormann, with construction proceeding over a 13-month period. It was completed in the summer of 1938, prior to its formal presentation to Hitler on his 50th birthday on April 20, 1939. It is situated on a ridge at the top of the Kehlstein mountain 1,834 m (6,017 ft), reached by a 6.5 km (4.0 mi) long and 4 m (13 ft) wide road that cost RM 30 million to build (about 150 million euros in 2007, adjusted in line with inflation). It includes five tunnels but only one hairpin turn and climbs 800 m (2,600 ft).
The last 124 m (407 ft) up to the Kehlsteinhaus are reached by an elevator bored straight down through the mountain and linked via a tunnel through the granite below that is 124 m (407 ft) long. The inside of the large elevator car is surfaced with polished brass, Venetian mirrors and green leather (the elevator is still used daily). Construction of the mountain elevator system cost the lives of 12 construction workers. The main reception room is dominated by a fireplace of red Italian marble, presented by Mussolini, which was damaged by Allied soldiers chipping off pieces to take home as souvenirs. Much of the furniture was designed by Paul László.
A significant event held at the Kehlsteinhaus was the wedding reception that followed the marriage of Eva Braun's sister Gretl to Hermann Fegelein on June 3, 1944. The event was filmed and amongst others Martin Bormann can be seen there. The building is often mistakenly referred to as a "tea house", a corruption of its abbreviated name, "D-Haus", short for "Diplomatic Reception Haus". As a result it is frequently confused with the tea house at Hitler's Berghof, the Mooslahnerkopf Teehaus, he visited daily after lunch.
Although the site is on the same mountain as the Berghof, Hitler rarely visited the property. It has been suggested he only visited the Kehlsteinhaus around 10 times, and most times for no more than 30 minutes. He received André François-Poncet (the departing French ambassador to Germany) there on October 18, 1938.
The Kehlsteinhaus was to be the aiming point of a Royal Air Force bombing raid by a force of 359 Avro Lancasters and 16 de Havilland Mosquitoes of No. 1, No. 5, and No. 8 Group RAF, including 617 Sqn, on April 25, 1945. The small house proved an elusive target and the Berghof area was targeted instead and severely damaged. Several anti-aircraft positions, the base plate of one of which is still discernible, were present about 100 m (330 ft) further up the ridge behind the Kehlsteinhaus.[better source needed]
Dwight D. Eisenhower, Supreme Commander of U.S forces in Europe and later President of the United States, wrote that the U.S. Army's 3rd Infantry Division was the first to take the town of Berchtesgaden, not the Eagle's Nest. In his interview with the Library of Congress, Herman Louis Finnell of the 3rd Division, 7th Regiment, Company I, stated that he and his ammo carrier, Pfc. Fungerburg, were the first to enter the Eagle's Nest, as well as the secret passages below the structure. Finnell stated that the hallway below the structure had rooms on either side filled with destroyed paintings, evening gowns, as well as destroyed medical equipment and a wine cellar. General Maxwell D. Taylor, former Commanding General of the 101st Airborne Division, stated the same. Photographs and newsreel footage show 3rd Infantry soldiers relaxing on the Eagle's Nest patio, "drinking Hitler's wine", affirming that they were present at the house on the 10th of May 1945.
The Kehlsteinhaus was subsequently used by the Allies as a military command post until 1960, when it was handed back to the State of Bavaria. After the return of the Kehlsteinhaus to German hands, an information centre was built on the foot of the hill to remind the public of Hitler and his regime. The Kehlsteinhaus itself does not mention much about its past.[better source needed]
Today the building is owned by a charitable trust, and serves as a restaurant. The restaurant features an indoor dining area and an outdoor beer garden. It is a popular tourist attraction to those who are attracted by the historical significance of the "Eagle's Nest". The house can be reached on foot (two hours of walking) or by bus from Obersalzberg, the road having been closed to private vehicles since 1952.
Informal tours of the Kehlsteinhaus are available to be booked through the official website. Due to concern about neo-Nazis and post-war Nazi sympathisers no external guides are permitted to conduct tours.
The lower rooms are not part of the restaurant but can be visited with a guide. They offer views of the building's past through plate-glass windows. Graffiti left by Allied troops is still clearly visible in the surrounding woodwork. A large fireplace in the restaurant itself shows severe damage along its lower edges where soldiers have smashed off small shards of marble as souvenirs. Hitler's small study is now a store room for the cafeteria.
A trail leads above the Kehlsteinhaus towards the Mannlgrat ridge reaching from the Kehlstein to the summit of the Hoher Goll. The route, which is served by a Klettersteig, is regarded as the easiest to the top.
- The Eagle's Nest - Obersalzberg in Berchtesgaden
- "Adolf Hitler", Current Biography 1941, p384
- Gutshof & Teehaus
- "Kehlsteinhaus". Hitler Mountain. Archived from the original on April 17, 2010.
- Dwight D. Eisenhower, Crusade in Europe 418 (1948) (The exact quote from page 418 reads "On May 4 the 3d division of the same corps captured Berchtesgaden." The corps mentioned was the US XV Corps. The term "Eagle's Nest" is not in the quote nor the paragraph that mentions the capture of Berchtesgaden.
- Library of Congress: Veterans History Project: Interview with Herman Finnell
- Maxwell D. Taylor, Swords and Plowshares 106 (1972)
- Pfc. James Cromwell (May 15, 2003). "Photos summon image of 3ID's past". Frontline (Third Infantry Division newspaper). Retrieved 2007-06-14.
- Video: Allies Sign Control Law For Germany,1945/06/14 (1945). Universal Newsreel. 1945. Retrieved February 20, 2012.
- Mannlgrat : Climbing, Hiking & Mountaineering : SummitPost
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Kehlsteinhaus.|
- Official website
- Kehlsteinhaus - Das Kehlsteinhaus - Historical Overview and Guide
- Das Kehlsteinhaus - The Third Reich in Ruins
- Kehlsteinhaus - Eagles Nest Pictures (German)