The Kehlsteinhaus (literally House Kehlstein , in German ), also known as Eagle ‘s Nest is a building type villa that was to be an extension of the complex Obersalzberg projected by the regime Nazi in the Bavarian Alps near Berchtesgaden . It was an official gift of the National Socialist party for Adolf Hitler for his 50th birthday. Dubbed “the eagle’s nest” by a French diplomat, it was to be a retreat house for Hitler and a mansion to welcome visiting dignitaries and diplomats.
Construction and use
It was commissioned by Martin Bormann , and after a construction period of more than thirteen months was formally presented to Hitler in 1939 . It is situated on a hill at the top of the Kehlstein mountain (1834 meters) and is reached by a spectacular road of 6.5 km, which cost 30 million marks (about 150 million euros in 2007, with adjustments Respective for inflation ). The last 124 meters to the Kehlsteinhaus are saved by an elevator located in a tunnel dug straight down into the mountain and connected to another tunnel under the granite of the terrain. The interior of the large elevator car is covered with polished bronze , Venetian mirrors and leather in green tones. The elevator is still used daily.
The construction of the elevator system in the mountain cost the lives of 12 workers. 1 The main room is dominated by a red Italian marble fireplace , gift from Mussolini . Much of the furniture was designed by Paul László .
The building has also been called Hitler’s “Tea House”, but it is a misnomer. Hitler did not use Kehlsteinhaus as a tea house, for the place he visited daily for tea in the afternoons-when he was visiting the village-was the Mooslahnerkopf Teehaus .
Although the site is on the same mountain as Berghof , Hitler rarely visited the place. It has been speculated that he did so only ten times, and most of them for no more than 30 minutes. Perhaps due to the poor association of the building with the person of Hitler, the Kehlsteinhaus was saved from being demolished at the end of World War II .
Capture by the Allies
Dwight D. Eisenhower , Supreme Commander of the Allied Forces in Europe and later President of the United States , wrote that the 3rd Infantry Division was the first to take Berchtesgaden and not the Eagle’s Nest . 2 General Maxwell D. Taylor , former Commander General of the 101st Airborne Division , stated the same. 3
Photographs and press archives show soldiers from the 3rd Infantry relaxing in the courtyard of the Eagle’s Nest, “drinking Hitler’s wine” and stating that they were in the house on May 10, 1945. 4
French General Georges Buis stated that two officers of the 2nd Armored Division, himself and Paul Repiton-Preneuf, were the first allies to arrive at Kehlsteinhaus on 5 May 1945. Photographs and archives of the French army show that the French Were in the Eagle’s Nest. Georges Buis stated that they arrived early in the morning and slipped away shortly afterwards when they saw the arrival of American troops. 5
According to the local guide, the Kehlsteinhaus would be one of the Royal Air Force ‘s bombing targets for April 25, 1945, but the small house turned out to be a hard-to-reach target and preferred to attack the Berghof area, resulting in serious damage . Some antiaircraft artillery positions, the base of which one can still appreciate, were established some 100 m beyond the summit where the Kehlsteinhaus is.
The Kehlsteinhaus was used by the Allies as a command post until 1960 , when it was returned to the State of Bavaria .
The building is now owned by a charity fund and serves as a restaurant . It is a popular tourist attraction , particularly for English and Americans attracted by the historical significance of the Eagle ‘s Nest . The site is accessible by foot (two hours’ walk from the village) or by bus .
After the return of the Kehlsteinhaus to German hands, an information center was constructed at the foot of the slope to remind the public the aspects related to the regime of Hitler. The Kehlsteinhaus itself does not mention much about its past.
Informal tours are offered by local guides to foreigners who arrive at the place, at the lowest point of the mountain. The service is not offered in German language, apparently at the request of the government to avoid conflicts with neo-Nazism and post-war National Socialist sympathizers.
The lower rooms of the complex, with spectacular views through their large windows, are not part of the restaurant but can be visited with the company of a guide . Hitler’s small studio is now a cellar for the cafeteria.
- Back to top↑ “Adolf Hitler”, Current Biography, 1941 , p. 384.
- Back to top↑ Dwight D. Eisenhower, Crusade in Europe (1948), p. 418 (the exact quote on page 418 reads as follows: “On May 4 the 3 d division of the same corps captured Berchtesgaden.” The corps referred to is the US XV Corps The expression “Eagle’s Nest” does not appear In the paragraph mentioning the capture of Berchtesgaden.
- Back to top↑ Maxwell D. Taylor. Swords and Plowshares , 106 (1972).
- Back to top↑ Pfc. James Cromwell (May 15, 2003). Photos summon image of 3ID’s past . Frontline (newspaper of the Third Infantry Division). Archived from the original on November 19, 2015 . Accessed June 14, 2007 .
- Back to top↑ General Georges Buis. The Fanfares perdues , 1975.