Hitlerís ďEagles NestĒ
One of the prettiest landscapes in Germany is the Berchtesgaden area, with its rolling meadows and peaceful pastures that surround the Obersalzberg Mountains. Working the mountain slopes of the Hohen Goll has provided a meager income for the local peasants for centuries.† Adolf Hitler first came to this area after his first unsuccessful bid for power and his release from Landsberg prison.† In the surrounding Obersalzberg area, he lived in a cottage while he wrote his famous book Mein Kampf (My Struggle). †In 1933, after he came to power with the new Nazi Party, he purchased a house near the foot of the Kehlstein Mountain.† His Nazi Party friends joined him and began building their houses nearby. A total of 27 farms and pensions (hotels) that were for more than 300 years in the possession of families disappeared. More than 400 people lost their homes. Initially, owners were offered money for their homes, but those that refused were later evicted with threats of imprisonment in concentration camps.† A large fence enclosed more than 10 square kilometers, and access was only for permit holders.† Three guardhouses lined the perimeter. Hitler loved to take long hikes in the area.
In April 1937, Reichsleiter Martin Bormann hit upon the idea of building a permanent structure on the summit of Kehlstein Mountain.† It was to be presented to Adolf Hitler on his 50th birthday in 1939.† This was an extremely ambitious project.† No road currently existed, and a new road 4.2 miles long to a point near the summit would require blasting through rock along the steep sides of the mountain at very high altitudes (this is the Alps weíre talking about!) through the winter.† A cable system would have to be erected to bring supplies to the summit (1834 meters Ė about 6000 feet) since the road would not be completed until very close to the completion of the teahouse (Eagleís Nest).† Near the summit, a tunnel 130 meters long would lead to an elevator to take visitors up the last 400 feet to the summit.† This elevator shaft had to be blasted out of solid rock.†† Approximately 3,500 men worked on this project. The total cost of the project was 30 million Marks (about 15 million dollars).† Adjusted for inflation, that would be over $125,000,000 in todayís US dollars.† Hitler visited the house 14 times between September 16, 1938 and October 17, 1940.† He never visited after that.† He was probably busy with his other big project at the time, WW II.
The Eagleís Nest.†
One has to wonder if it was a good idea to build this for a man
†who had vertigo.† Hitler was afraid of heights!!
A view of the teahouse from the opposite side.
The 4.2-mile road leading to the summit is only one lane wide, so you must ride the special bus route.† I guess they also donít want tourists gawking at the scenery and driving over the edge.† Itís a long way down!
The tunnel leading to the summit elevator.† The doors are made of copper and bronze. In his first visit, Hitler mentioned to Herr Bormann that he thought the elevator shaft was a dangerous place to be because lightning could strike the lift mechanism on the summit.† Bormann did not tell Hitler that, in fact, lightning had already struck the elevator mechanism twice during construction.† He feared it would be Hitlerís last visit.
If you look closely, you can see the top of the teahouse on the tip of the mountain above the tunnel.
A family picture at the summit with Konigsee Lake and the Alps in the background.
Being the early birds that we are, we had the entire top of the mountain to ourselves for an hour until
†the 2nd bus of the day dropped off about 30-40 people.† How wonderful!
Spencer exploring the summit.
Notice the shorts.† Notice the snow.† Can you tell this kid was born in Alaska?
The world explorer!
Spencer and I explored the far reaches of the summit, including this trail that led over to
a sheer drop off of several thousand feet (just behind where we are sitting).† Cool!
This cross is situated near the summit of the mountain.
†Spencer is making his way down to the teahouse.
This was Eva Braunís tearoom in the Eagleís Nest.
Here, she would entertain the wives of Nazi Party officials.
This marble fireplace was given as a gift from Italian Dictator Benito Mussolini.
The American soldiers who first entered the Eagleís Nest near the end of the war
chipped off pieces of the upper right corner as souvenirs.
Beth, Spencer, and I enjoying the fantastic view of the Alps from one
of the observation walkways around the Eagleís Nest.†
Spencer taking a break from mountain climbing.
Soon, we were on our way down the winding road to get ready for our trip home.
There are several tunnels where the construction teams cut through solid rock.
After the war, the former Berchtesgaden Governor saved the Eagleís Nest from destruction
†and the Bavarian government rented the Kehlsteinhaus to the Berchtesgaden Alpine
†Association, which now uses it as a mountain restaurant.
In June 2002, I traveled again to Berchtesgaden with some friends.
†Here are some pictures of the Eagleís Nest in the summer.
The Eagleís Nest with summer blossoms.
Thatís me balancing on the rock.†
What you canít see is the 200-foot drop just one step behind me.
The south-east corner of Germany is in the background.
I wanted a photo here because I have a picture of
Adolf Hitler standing in this exact spot 60 years earlier.
See the picture below Ė Hitler is in the middle.
Hitler standing in the same spot he knew I would be standing 60 years later.
Hitlerís Eagleís Nest