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Führer Headquarters

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Map showing the locations of the Führer Headquarters throughout Europe

The Führer Headquarters (German: Führerhauptquartiere), abbreviated FHQ, were a number of official headquarters used by the Nazi leader Adolf Hitler and various other German commanders and officials throughout Europe during World War II.[1] The last one used, the Führerbunker in Berlin, where Hitler committed suicide on 30 April 1945, is the most widely known headquarter. Other notable headquarters are the Wolfsschanze (Wolf's Lair) in East Prussia, where Claus Graf 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.


The Berghof, Hitler's home near Berchtesgaden, became part of the Obersalzberg military complex. Other than the Wolfsschanze in East Prussia, Hitler spent more time at the Berghof than anywhere else during World War II.

At the beginning of World War II there were no permanent headquarters constructed for the Führer. Hitler visited the frontlines using either aeroplanes 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 dwellings he most frequently used were 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 propaganda broadcast covering the war, was also transmitted from the Führer Headquarters.

The Fuhrerhauptquartiere programme used over one million cubic metres of concrete, more than half at Anlage Riese and Wolfsschlucht II. Forced labourers worked for nearly twelve million working days; two-thirds at Anlage Riese, Wolfsschlucht II and Wolfsschanze.[2]

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, because Hitler directly controlled much of the German war effort, the FHQs more often than not became de facto military headquarters. In reality, Nazi Germany's military command during the war generally rested upon Hitler's directives, while the rest of the military command structure, especially the Oberkommando der Wehrmacht (OKW) (directly controlled by Hitler) was reduced to executing his decisions, as compared to most other nations' command structures, which generally had more independence in decision-making.[citation needed]


The location of the Führerbunker and Vorbunker in Berlin, 1945

Every place Hitler stayed cannot be considered as a Führer Headquarters, and he did not stay at every official FHQ. Furthermore, some sources may not refer to the Berghof and the Führerbunker 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,[3] and Hitler had daily conferences on military matters there in the latter part of the war.[3] 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 8.5 metres (28 ft) beneath the garden of the old Reich Chancellery at Wilhelmstraße 77, and 120 metres (390 ft) north of the new Reich Chancellery building at Voßstraße 6 in Berlin.[4] It became a de facto Führer Headquarters during the Battle of Berlin, and ultimately, the last of his headquarters.[5]

Brunhilde near Angevillers in France seen in 2011

Headquarters locations[edit]

There were about 14 known completed Führer Headquarters (of about 20 planned):[6]

Name Alternative designations Location Build started Completed Usage as Führer Headquarters
Adlerhorst[7] Mühle (OT)
Bauvorhaben Z
Lager K
Bauvorhaben C
Bad Nauheim, Germany 1 Sep 1939 yes yes – used by Hitler during the Ardennes offensive; was too late for invasion of Poland, and Hitler told Speer it was "too luxurious ... the Führer must show Spartan simplicity".[8]
Anlage Mitte[7] Askania Mitte Tomaszów Mazowiecki, Poland 1 Dec 1940 yes no – only industry
Anlage Riese[6] none Wałbrzych (Waldenburg), Poland Oct 1943 no no
Anlage Süd[7] Askania Süd Strzyżów, Poland 1 Oct 1940 yes yes, Hitler met with Mussolini here on 27–28 August 1941[7]
Berghof[6] none Obersalzberg, Berchtesgaden, Germany ? yes yes – also thought by the Allies to be within an Alpine Fortress "last stand" territory of the Third Reich
Bärenhöhle[9] none Smolensk, Russia; Platform of Gniesdovo station lengthened for Führersonderzug[10] 1 Oct 1941 yes no – used by Army Group Centre
Felsennest[11] none Rodert, Bad Münstereifel, Germany 1940 yes yes, used by Hitler during the Battle of France in May, 1940
Frühlingssturm none Mönichkirchen, Austria 12 April 1941 yes yes. Trains Amerika and Atlas, and Mönichkirchen goods station, for invasion of Yugoslavia, until 27 April 1941
Führerbunker[12] 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[6] none 200 km north of Minsk, Belarus 1 July 1943 no no
S III[6] Wolfsturm, Olga etc. Ohrdruf, Germany Autumn 1944 (?) no no
Siegfried[6] Hagen[13] Pullach, Germany (south of Munich) ? ? no
Tannenberg[14] none Freudenstadt/Kniebis, Germany 1 Oct 1939 yes yes (27 June – 5 July 1940)
W3 Wolfsschlucht III Saint-Rimay, 15 km west of Vendôme, France 1 May 1942 no. no. Built around a railway tunnel with armoured doors to protect the Führersonderzug, with bunkers for Hitler and for his staff at northeast entrance. Had anti-aircraft emplacements.[15]
Waldwiese[9] none Glan-Münchweiler, Germany 1 Oct 1939 yes no
Wasserburg[9] none Pskow (Pleskau), Russia 1 Nov 1942 yes no (assigned to Army Group North)
Werwolf[7] Eichenhain Vinnytsia, Ukraine 1 Nov 1941 yes yes, on 28 December 1943 Hitler ordered its demolition after failure of Operation Citadel[16]
Wolfsschanze[17] 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[18] Brûly-de-Pesche near Couvin, Belgium 1 May 1940 yes yes. A further bunker planned near the Wolfspalast (formerly the village inn) was not completed.[19]
Wolfsschlucht II[7] W2, later Zucarello [20] between villages of Margival and Laffaux, France. The Führerbunker was 2 km up the track from the Margival train station.[20] 1 Sep 1942 yes yes. Built around a railway tunnel with armoured doors to protect the Führersonderzug. The compound had six large bunkers; an OKW bunker was adjacent to the Führerbunker, also signals and guest bunkers and anti-aircraft emplacements. [20]
Zigeuner[6] Brunhilde Thionville, France; used Maginot Line tunnels[10] 1 Apr 1944 no no

Special train (Führersonderzug)[edit]

The Führersonderzug train was named Führersonderzug "Amerika" in 1940, and later Führersonderzug "Brandenburg". The train was used as a headquarters until the Balkans campaign. Afterwards, the train was not used as Führer Headquarters, however Hitler continued to travel on it throughout the war between Berlin, Berchtesgaden, Munich and other headquarters.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b Raiber, Richard, Guide to Hitler's Headquarters, After The Battle, No. 19, Introduction and p. 1.
  2. ^ McNab 2014, pp. 37, 48.
  3. ^ a b Eberle, Henrik and Uhl, Matthias, The Unknown Hitler, 11th chapter, pp. 199–200.
  4. ^ Lehrer, Steven, The Reich Chancellery and Führerbunker Complex, p. 123.
  5. ^ Beevor, Antony, Berlin: The Downfall 1945, p. 357.
  6. ^ a b c d e f g Raiber, Richard, Guide to Hitler's Headquarters, After The Battle, No. 19, p. 2.
  7. ^ a b c d e f Raiber, Richard, Guide to Hitler's Headquarters, After The Battle, No.19, pp. 48–51.
  8. ^ McNab 2014, p. 18.
  9. ^ a b c Der Kommandant Führerhauptquartier Archived 2010-01-25 at the Wayback Machine from Das Bundesarchiv (German, www.bundesarchiv.de)
  10. ^ a b McNab 2014, p. 27.
  11. ^ Raiber, Richard, Guide to Hitler's Headquarters, After The Battle, No. 19, p. 4.
  12. ^ The Berlin Führerbunker: The Thirteenth Hole, After the Battle Archived 2007-12-26 at the Wayback Machine, No.61 Special Edition (entire)
  13. ^ McNab 2014, p. 31.
  14. ^ Raiber, Richard, Guide to Hitler's Headquarters, After The Battle, No. 19, p. 18.
  15. ^ McNab 2014, p. 43.
  16. ^ McNab 2014, pp. 59, 60.
  17. ^ Raiber, Richard, Guide to Hitler's Headquarters, After The Battle, No. 19, p. 28.
  18. ^ Raiber, Richard, Guide to Hitler's Headquarters, After the Battle, No. 19, p. 10.
  19. ^ McNab 2014, p. 38.
  20. ^ a b c McNab 2014, pp. 39–42.
  • Beevor, Antony (2002). Berlin – The Downfall 1945. Viking-Penguin Books. ISBN 978-0-670-03041-5.
  • Eberle, Henrik; Uhl, Matthias, eds. (2005). The Hitler Book: The Secret Dossier Prepared for Stalin from the Interrogations of Hitler's Personal Aides. New York: Public Affairs. ISBN 978-1-58648-366-1.
  • 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.
  • Lehrer, Steven (2006). The Reich Chancellery and Führerbunker Complex. An Illustrated History of the Seat of the Nazi Regime. Jefferson, NC: McFarland. ISBN 978-0-7864-2393-4.
  • McNab, Chris (2014). Hitler's Fortresses: German Fortifications and Defences 1939–45. Oxford; New York: Osprey Publishing. ISBN 978-1-78200-828-6.
  • 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.

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