Führerbunker in Berlin
The Führerbunker (German: "[the] Führer's bunker") was located beneath Hitler's New Reich Chancellery in Berlin, Germany. It was part of a subterranean bunker complex which was constructed in two major phases, one part in 1936 and the other in 1943. It was the last of the Führer Headquarters (Führerhauptquartiere) to be used by Hitler.
Adolf Hitler took up residence in the Führerbunker in January 1945 and until the last week of the war it became the epicentre of the Nazi regime. It was here during the last week of April 1945 that Hitler married Eva Braun shortly before they committed suicide.
The ruins of both the old and new Chancellery buildings were levelled by the Soviets between 1945 and 1949 but the bunker largely survived, although some areas were partially flooded. Apart from one unsuccessful attempt by the government of East Germany in 1959 to blow it up, the underground complex remained largely undisturbed, until after the reunification of Germany. During the reconstruction of that area of Berlin after reunification, those sections of the complex that were excavated were for the most part destroyed.
The site remained unmarked until 2006 when a small plaque was installed with a schematic of the bunker to mark the location. Some of the corridors of the bunker still exist today, sealed off from the public.
Weidling had given the order for the survivors to break out to the northwest starting at around 21:00 on 1 May. The breakout started later than planned at around 23:00. The first group from the Reich Chancellery led by Mohnke avoided the Weidendammer bridge over which the mass breakout took place and crossed by a footbridge, but Mohnke's group became split (Mohnke could not break through the Soviet rings and was captured the next day and like others who were captured and had been in the Führerbunker was interrogated by SMERSH). A Tiger tank that spearheaded the first attempt to storm the Weidendammer bridge was destroyed. There followed two more attempts and on the third attempt, made around 1:00 (2 May), Martin Bormann in another group from the Reich Chancellery managed to cross the Spree. He was reported to have died a short distance from the bridge, his body was seen and identified by Arthur Axmann who followed the same route.
Ironically the last defenders of the bunker complex were the French SS volunteers of the 33rd Waffen Grenadier Division of the SS Charlemagne (1st French) who remained until the early morning of May 2 to prevent the Russians from capturing the bunker on May Day.
At 01:00 the Soviets picked up radio message from the German LVI Corps requesting a cease-fire and stating that emissaries would come under a white flag to Potsdamer bridge. Early in the morning of 2 May the Soviets stormed the Reich Chancellery. General Weidling surrendered with his staff at 06:00.
General Burgdorf (who played a key role in the death of Erwin Rommel) and General Krebs chose to commit suicide rather than attempt to break out. Few people remained in the bunker, and they were subsequently captured by Soviet troops on 2 May. Soviet intelligence operatives investigating the complex found more than a dozen bodies (the persons had apparently committed suicide) along with the cinders of many burned papers and documents.
The ruins of both the old and new Chancellery buildings were levelled by the Soviets between 1945 and 1949 but the bunker largely survived, although some areas were partially flooded. In 1947 the Soviets tried to blow up the bunker but only the separation walls were damaged. In 1959 the East German government also tried to blast the bunker, apparently without much effect. Since it was near the Berlin Wall, the site was undeveloped and neglected until after reunification. During the construction of residential housing and other buildings on the site in 1988–89 several underground sections of the old bunker were uncovered by work crews and were for the most part destroyed.
The former Chancellery was situated at the corner of Wilhelmstraße and Voßstraße. Other parts of the Chancellery underground complex were uncovered during extensive construction work in the 1990s, but these were ignored, filled in or quickly resealed.
Since 1945 government authorities have been consistently concerned about the site of the bunker evolving into a Neo-Nazi shrine. The strategy for avoiding this has largely been to ensure the surroundings remain anonymous and unremarkable. In 2005 the location of the bunker was not marked. The immediate area was occupied by a small Chinese restaurant and shopping centre while the emergency exit point for the bunker (which had been in the Chancellery gardens) was occupied by a car park.
On June 8, 2006, due to the 2006 FIFA World Cup a small plaque was installed with a schematic of the bunker to mark the location. The plaque can be found at the corner of In den Ministergärten and Gertrud-Kolmar-Straße, two small streets about three minutes' walk from Potsdamer Platz. Hitler's bodyguard, Rochus Misch, one of the last people living who was in the bunker at the time of Hitler's suicide, was on hand for the ceremony.
Armin Lehmann, one of the last living bunker occupants, provided researchers with historical facts. Lehmann was a 16-year-old Hitler Youth member assigned to Artur Axmann's staff as Hitler's courier. He died on 10 October 2008 in Coos Bay, Oregon at the age of eighty.
On film and television
- The Death of Adolf Hitler is a British 1973 made-for-television production. Set in the Führerbunker it follows the last ten days of Hitler’s life. Starring Frank Finlay in the title role.
- ' is a 1973 feature film directed by Ennio De Concini and starring Sir Alec Guinness in the title role.
- The Bunker was a 1981 made-for-television film directed by George Schaefer. Sir Anthony Hopkins won an Emmy Award for his portrayal of Hitler.
- The 2004 German film Der Untergang (The Downfall) is largely set in and around the Führerbunker, with director Oliver Hirschbiegel accurately reconstructing the actual look and atmosphere as best he could through eyewitness accounts, various survivors' memoirs, and other verified sources. Bruno Ganz portrays Hitler in the film.
- Hitler's bunker is the setting for the vast majority of Der Untergang parodies on Youtube.
- "Ruins of the Reich DVD. R.J. Adams 2008, ASIN: B000PATNP8 (Bunker ruins and tour of interior chancellery bunker today).
- "The Fuehrer Bunker (1935–1942) DVD. Christoph Neubauer Verlag, Waldkirchen 2007, (Computer Animation of the Fuehrer Bunker).
- "Albert Speers Berlin - Die Reichskanzlei DVD. Christoph Neubauer Verlag, Waldkirchen 2008, (Computer Animation of the Reich's Chancellery).
- Adolf Hitler's Last Days, from the BBC series Secrets of World War II, recounts the story of Hitler's last days.
- The World at War (1974) is a Thames Television episode 21 Nemesis-Germany (February–May 1945). Included interviews with several people who visited the bunker, including secretary Traudl Junge, reminiscing about the very end in the bunker.
- Unsolved History: Hitler's Bunker (2002), from the Discovery Channel's series Unsolved History. Historians digitally reconstruct the entire bunker as it existed more than 50 years ago using authentic period photographs, samples of paint, state-of-the-art mapping techniques and the original schematics.
- Death of Adolf Hitler
- Führer Headquarters
- Wolf's Lair
- Nazi architecture
- Matsushiro Underground Imperial Headquarters
- Guido, Pietro, Fuehrerbunker-Discovered its Mysteries", ISEM, Fifth Edition, 2009 - Milan
- Junge, Traudl, Until the Final Hour, Weidenfeld & Nicolson, 2003
- . The Führer Bunker - Hitler's Last Refuge. Berlin Story Verlag, Berlin 2006, .
- O'Donnell, James, The Bunker, Da Capo Press, reprint 2001, (orig. pub. 1978).
- Petrova, Ada and Watson, Peter. The Death of Hitler: The Full Story with New Evidence from Secret Russian Archives (book excerpt and a review by Richard Breitman in Washington Post, April 14, 1996)
- Trevor-Roper, Hugh, The Last Days of Hitler, University of Chicago Press, paperback edition 1992 (orig. pub. 1947).
- 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
- Staff. The Führerbunker: Info and Plans, MalGo Media Services Ltd.
- Staff. The Who-Is-Who of the Bunker, MalGo Media Services Ltd.
- Visual representations
- Adams, R.J. The Berlin Chancellery Bunker today only known existing footage.
- Allied Intelligence Map of Key Buildings in Berlin (Third Edition, 1945)
- Neubauer, Christoph. The Fuehrerbunker 3D. three dimensional virtual reconstruction of the bunker.
- Bogoe, Dines. Führerbunker m. v. External images and maps of the Führerbunker.