Hitler's Berghof

"These were the best times of my life.
My great plans were forged here" - Adolf Hitler.

hitler's berghof, obersalzberg, bavarian alps, 1936
Hitler's Berghof 1936

Hitler's retreat in the mountains of Bavaria was one of the most important centers of government in the Third Reich. Hitler spent more time in the Berghof than in his Berlin office.

It was in this oversized chalet that Hitler planned the invasions of Poland, France and Russia and the events that would change the lives of millions.

Adolf Hitler's interest in the hills above Berchtesgaden began in 1923, when he came to visit his friend and mentor, Dietrich Eckart, who was living at the Platterhof Hotel. Hitler traveled there under the name of "Herr Wolf" and held meetings with supporters in local guesthouses.

After he was released from Landsberg prison in 1926, following his unsuccessful coup in Munich, he came back to the Obersalzberg.

He stayed in a small cabin (no longer there) on the mountain near the Platterhof. The remainder of Mein Kampf was written during his visit there.


Haus Wachenfeld

In 1928, Hitler rented a pretty, alpine-style vacation home, Haus Wachenfeld, next door to the Hotel zum Türken.

After becoming Chancellor of Germany in 1933, Hitler purchased the house from the money he had made from Mein Kampf (a best seller) and lived there for a couple of years before starting a major expansion of the building.


hitler reading in haus wachenfeld, evening
Evening at Haus Wachenfeld
(Bundesarchiv, Bild 146-1973-034-42 / Heinrich Hoffmann / CC-BY-SA)


Below are some shots of the house taken before the renovation:

haus wachenfeld, obersalzberg
haus wachenfeld

haus wachenfeld, obersalzberg, 1938
haus wachenfeld, obersalzberg, 1938



The Berghof

The expansion of the house was carried out in 1935 and 1936. The result was another larger, alpine-style residence that he named "The Berghof", or "mountain farm".

wachenfeld to berghof, obersalzberg
Construction, Dec '35/Jan "36
hitler's berghof, obersalzberg
The New Residence

A large area of the mountain was taken over by the Nazis and numerous buildings were built on the rolling farmland. The neighbors for miles around were bought out, including families who had lived on the mountain for generations.

hitler and girl, berghof
Hitler and visitor, Berghof

hitler, lloyd george, berghof, zum turken
Hitler with Lloyd George

Those who refused to sell were forced out, including the owner of the Hotel zum Türken, who spent three weeks in Dachau before "agreeing" to sell.

In the photo at right, Hitler escorts former British Prime Minister David Lloyd George down the main staircase. The Hotel zum Türken is in the distance above.

hotel zum turken and berghof, aerial view
Hotel zum Türken (left) and the Berghof

Hitler Greets the Public

Hitler's home became quite a tourist attraction. Crowds of admirers used to wait at the end of the driveway for a chance to greet the Führer. Heinrich Hoffmann, Hitler's official photographer, took lots of photos of these scenes.

waiting admirers, berghof
Waiting fans
hitler greets admirers, berghof
Hitler greeting fans

He especially liked greeting the children, who came to visit in the thousands. Photos below taken near Haus Wachenfeld, 1934.


hitler with two blond girls, wachenfeld driveway
hitler receiving flowers from little girl, wachenfeld 1934


Hitler signing autographs; SS on left, and Hitler Youth on right:


ss getting autographs from hitler
hitler youth getting autograph from hitler

Various youth groups would visit the Berghof and meet the Führer. Below, Hitler got a visit from the Bund Deutscher Mädel (BDM), or League of German Girls, the feminine version of the Hitler Youth, in July, 1939. They had tea on the Berghof terrace.


BDM visit to berghof, hitler autographs
Autographs for the girls
BDM visit to Berghof, having tea
Tea on the terrace

SS Guards

The SS guarding Hitler were stationed in the barracks further up the hill (now an open field with a Segway track for guests of the Intercontinental Berchtesgaden Resort). The SS withdrew just hours before the American soldiers arrived. Barracks Square, as it was called, was heavily damaged in the bombing; no traces are left now.

hitler greeting kids, ss guarding, berghof
SS guarding Hitler
obersalzberg, ss guards
SS on a walk, Obersalzberg



Famous Visitors

British Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain met with Hitler at the Berghof in 1938 during the negotiations that lead to the signing of the Munich Agreement handing part of Czechoslovakia over to Germany ("peace for our time"). Former British Prime Minister David Lloyd George had met with Hitler at the Berghof in 1936.

chamberlain and hitler, berghof 1938
Chamberlain arriving
(Bundesarchiv, Bild 183-H12477 / CC-BY-SA license.)

chamberlain interviewed in munich after meeting with hitler
Chamberlain interviewed after meeting
(Bundesarchiv, Bild 183-H12487 / CC-BY-SA license.)

Other important guests were received there as well, including Benito Mussolini and the Duke and Duchess of Windsor.

hitler with mussolini, berghof
Mussolini and Hitler
duke and duchess of windsor with hitler, berghof, obersalzberg
Duke and Duchess of Windsor


Dogs and Children

Other favorite photographic themes at the Berghof, some produced for public consumption and others just candid shots, were photos of Hitler with small children and Hitler with his dog, Blondi.

The Führer and the Children

According to those who knew him, Hitler was genuinely fond of children and enjoyed having them visit at his mountain home.


hitler and girl, bernile nienau, berghof
Hitler and Bernile
hitler, uschi schneider, berghof
With Uschi Schneider

The little girl in the left photo, Bernile Nienau, was chosen from the crowd to visit the Führer and have a dish of strawberries, on their joint birthday, April 20, 1933. She became a favorite and visited frequently, until Martin Bormann discovered her grandmother was Jewish and tried to banish her from visiting. Hitler allowed her to continue coming.

Bernile died at the age of 17 of "natural causes", in a Munich hospital, towards the end of the war.

Uschi Schneider was the daughter of one of Eva Braun's friends.

bernile nienau, hitler, wachenfeld, obersalzberg 1934
Bernile, Obersalzberg 1934
helga goebbels, hitler, obersalzberg 1936
Helga Goebbels (possibly), 1936

Blondi, Hitler's German Shepherd

Martin Bormann gave Blondi to Hitler in 1941, and she lived at the Berghof, sleeping in Hitler's bedroom, and traveling with him in his train car. He took her to his HQ on the eastern front as well.


hitler and blondi, berghof
Hitler and Blondi, Obersalzberg
hitler and blondi, berghof
Hitler and Blondi, Berghof

She had a full time caretaker/trainer, Sergeant Fritz Tornow. He was still in the Führerbunker in Berlin after Hitler's death, and was captured by the Russians.


hitlers blondi in tree, fritz tornow handler
Blondi with Tornow
hilters blondi in tree
Blondi in a Tree


The photos of Blondi below were taken in Winniza (or Vinnytsia), Ukraine, when Hitler was based there in 1942, at his "Werwolf" Headquarters.

hitlers blondi in winniza, ukraine, 1942, fritz tornow
Blondi and Tornow, Ukraine
hitlers blondi in winniza, ukraine, 1942
Blondi in Winniza, Ukraine

Blondi met with a sad end when she was poisoned in the bunker, shortly before Hitler committed suicide.



Hitler the Architect

Since Hitler had had an earlier career as an artist, and had a great interest in architecture, he was heavily involved in the design and furnishing of his new home. The building and rooms were created in the monumental style favored by National Socialism and intended to impress.

hitler sitting on desk, berghof office
Hitler in His Berghof Office
(Bundesarchiv, Bild 146-1990-048-29A / Heinrich Hoffmann / CC-BY-SA.)

The house was decorated with expensive Persian carpets, Gobelin tapestries and antique furniture, mainly 18th century German.

The Great Room was where Hitler received his important visitors.

great room, hitlers berghof
The Great Room
(Bundesarchiv, Bild 146-1991-077-31 / CC-BY-SA.)


great room, hitlers berghof
Great Room
(Bundesarchiv, Bild 146-1991-077-32 / CC-BY-SA.)

The Great Room was huge and had an enormous picture window that looked out at the view of the Untersberg mountain in Austria. Hitler's globe was in this room.


Great Room Window

Great Room

berghof window
View of the Untersberg
berghof window ruins
Window after bombing



The view from the Hotel zum Türken right next door is almost the same one that Hitler had.

view of untersberg, hotel zum turken
View of the Untersberg, from the hotel balcony

Through a gap in the mountains, Hitler could see Salzburg's castle. The large window could be lowered into the story below, leaving it open to the air.

Hitler told Albert Speer, architect and manager of Germany's state building projects, "Look at the Untersberg over there. It is not by chance that I have my seat across from it".

According to legend, Charlemagne is sleeping in a cave of ice on the Untersberg, deep inside the mountain. He is waiting for the time when he will be called back to save the Holy Roman Empire; or according to another version, until he is summoned for the final battle of good against evil at the end of the world.

berghof dining room
Dining room
hitlers office, berghof
Hitler's office




berghof entryway ruins
Entryway ruins
berghof entryway
Entryway



hitlers desk, berghof
Hitler's desk
hitler and goering, berghof
Hitler & Hermann Goering

When the Obersalzberg was secured for Hitler's headquarters, a gatehouse was built just down the road from the residence. Nothing remains of it now.

guard house below the berghof
Gatehouse below the Berghof
(Bundesarchiv, Bild 183-1999-0412-502 / CC-BY-SA.)


Eva Braun


eva braun, berghof
Eva Braun

The German public was unaware of Eva Braun until after the war. From 1936 on, she spent most of her time at the Berghof.

She was kept in the background and not allowed to meet the visiting dignitaries or ministers. Her social life was limited to members of Hitler's inner circle, like Hermann Goering, Joseph Goebbels, Martin Bormann and Albert Speer, as well as her own friends and family.


eva braun, berghof terrace
Eva on the terrace

Eva was athletic and amused herself with activities like swimming and skiing on the Obersalzberg.

The photos below are Eva skiing on the Obersalzberg with two SS officers (aides to Hitler) in 1938; neither officer survived the war (Hans Pfeiffer and Hans-Georg Schultze).


eva braun skiing, with hans pfeiffer, hans-georg schultze, obersalzberg 1938
Skiing with the SS
eva braun skiing, with hans pfeiffer, hans-georg schultze, obersalzberg 1938
Taking a break

It probably wasn't a particularly happy existence, even though she lived a life of luxury. She attempted suicide twice during her relationship with Hitler; at age 20, she shot herself in the neck, and a few years later she took an overdose of sleeping pills.

Her life ended with her suicide in the Reich Chancellery bunker in Berlin on April 30, 1945, one day after becoming Frau Hitler.

eva braun and adolf hitler, berghof terrace, dogs
Eva and Hitler on the Terrace



After The War

When the war ended, the Berghof was damaged but mostly intact in spite of the heaving bombing raid on the Obersalzberg on April 25, 1945.

berghof ruins, from bormann's house
View from Bormann's house
berghof ruins, 1945
Berghof after the bombing


The houses belonging to Herman Goering and Martin Bormann, as well as the Hotel zum Türken, were severely damaged; the hotel was rebuilt and is still in operation today.

berghof and obersalzberg after bombing, 1945
Obersalzberg Area After the Bombing

Below, members of the 3rd Infantry Division celebrate with the contents of Hitler's wine cellar, on May 4, 1945. On the right, the stairs to Hitler's bunker.

3rd infantry, american soldiers, celbrating with wine, berghof 1945
American soldiers
stairs to hitlers bunker in berghof
Stairs to Hitler's bunker

In 1952, the Bavarian government blew up the Berghof, hoping to discourage tourists. Later, the rubble was carried away, leaving little more than the foundation walls along the back of the building.


The Berghof Today

The rear foundations of the house (right) and its garage (left) are the only structures still standing.

rear walls of the berghof ruins
Ruins of the Berghof

Below are the remains of the retaining walls to the rear of the building.

rear wall of berghof today, obersalzberg
Rear Wall

Underground shaft coming out of the hillside:

underground shaft, berghof ruins
Underground access

The forest has reclaimed this historic spot and only a small path, which used to be the driveway, leads through the trees to the location where the building used to be. The path starts from the road just below the Hotel zum Türken.

path to berghof ruins
Path to Berghof ruins, former driveway


view of hotel zum turken, berghof driveway now
View of Hotel zum Türken from Berghof driveway



Nearby Points of Interest

The Obersalzberg

Other spots of historic interest are scattered around the hill on which the Berghof sits, the Obersalzberg. Visit the former Nazi stronghold above Berchtesgaden and explore the ruins and bunker system. The Documentation Center has a fascinating exhibit on the history of the Third Reich.

Hotel zum Türken

Next door to the ruins of the Berghof is the Hotel zum Türken, Hitler's neighbor during the Third Reich period, and still receiving guests.

The Eagle's Nest

The Eagle's Nest, Hitler's conference center turned restaurant still sitting high up on a mountain peak. The buses to the Eagle's Nest leave from the Obersalzberg.

Berchtesgaden

The pretty village of Berchtesgaden lies just ten minutes down the hill from the ruins of Hitler's home. Read tips on things to do in town and the surrounding area.

The Königssee

Sail on a beautiful alpine lake, the Königssee,a short bus ride from Berchtesgaden.

Wegmacher Kapelle

In the year 2000, a small wayside shrine, called the Wegmacher Chapel, was built (allegedly) from marble stones used to pave the terrace of Hitler's Berghof.

It caused some local and international fluttering in the media 10 years later, when the origin of the building materials was "discovered" (see Spiegel article). There were some fear it could become a shrine for Nazi sympathizers; it hasn't been in the news since then, as far as I know.

The tiny chapel is located just off the side of Highway 20, a little south of Bad Reichenall, and north of Berchtesgaden.


View Wegmacher Chapel in a larger map

Here are some photos of the chapel, taken in October, 2010.



More Photos


hitler, goebbels and children, berghof
Hitler, Goebbels and his children


Hitler and Goering at the Berghof
(Bundesarchiv, Bild 183-2004-1202-502 / CC-BY-SA.)

When this photo was originally published, it was accompanied by the commentary:

"A vacation day of the Chancellor in his house on the Obersalzberg in Berchtesgaden. The Chancellor works also during his vacation time; near him sits Minister President Göring"

Hitler and the Bird

Hitler at Haus Wachenfeld in 1934 (Geli Raubal present also); he is feeding a bird, which then jumps onto his shoulder.


hitler feeding bird, haus wachenfeld
hitler with bird on shoulder, haus wachenfeld

hitler with bird on shoulder, haus wachenfeld

Hitler's first love,
Geli Raubal,
Haus Wachenfeld, 1931

At Haus Wachenfeld


hitler, speer, haus wachenfeld
With Albert Speer, architect
hitler with secretary johanna wolff, rudolf hess, haus wachenfeld 1933
With Johanna Wolff, secretary
Rudolf Hess standing, 1933

At the Berghof

Hitler reportedly didn't care much for Eva's two Scottish Terriers, Stasi and Negus. He once said they looked like floor brushes. She didn't like Blondi, either (allegedly).

hitler and eva braun with her scotties, berghof
Hitler and Eva Braun
with Eva's Scotties
ss at berghof, accordian player
SS being entertained
Hitler's 1937-38 vacation

More Berghof Rooms


eva brauns room, berghof
Eva's room
hitlers portrait, eva brauns room, berghof 1938
Hitler's portrait
Eva's room


berghof stairs to second floor
Stairs to second floor
landing at top of stairs, inside berghof
Landing, top of stairs

Hitler's Berghof Bunker


inside hitlers bunker, berghof
inside hitlers bunker, berghof


To get directions for finding the Berghof ruins on the Obersalzberg, and maps of the area, see: Berghof location.


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