Hitler’s Alpine Headquarters
By James Wilson
Pen and Sword (www.pen-and-sword.co.uk )
RRP GBP £25.00
USE THE CODE “25PERCENTMILITARY” and RECEIVE 25% of the RRP WHEN ORDERING FROM THE PUBLISHER
The Bavarian town of Berchtesgaden was a small but long established mountain farming community. However it is famous because of Hitler and fellow leading Nazis establishing residences there. Even nowadays the mountain views are splendid but little remains of the “village” of the buildings for Nazi party members. Most of the buildings were levelled after the end of the war.
Hitler’s Alpine Headquarters follows the development of this farming community at the Obersalzberg from a “sleepy” village to Hitler’s country residence and the Nazi’s southern headquarters. It presents new images and additional text. The author prepared the acclaimed book “Hitler’s Alpine Retreat” in 2005 and the current volume expands upon this base. He has included new chapters and the focus has been expanded to include aspects not previously considered such as buildings and characters of Hitler’s inner circle.
Hitler was obsessed with this region and it appeared on over 300 contemporary Nazi propaganda postcards. The author has collated a number of “then and now” shots which allow the reader to view the subjects as it was presented to the public in the Nazi era.
The author served as an expert tour guide specialising in the history of this region during the Third Reich era and this enabled him to conduct his own detailed research. He starts the book with a section on the beginnings of the Nazi era and how Berchtesgaden became a “fount of inspiration”. Section 2 deals with the Berghof becoming a secondary seat of the government, visitors to it and the Fuehrer and the local area.
Buildings such as the Hotels Platterhof and Berchtesgaden Hof, Goring’s Home and other Obersalzberg buildings are noted in Section 3. This section also discusses the tunnel and bunker systems, the destruction of the Obersalzberg, the Kehlsteinhaus (Eagle’s Nest) and the other secondary structures around Berchtesgaden.
The key personalities of the Third Reich at the Obersalzberg are given the author’s expert treatment. They include: Bormann, Goebbels, Goring, Hess, Himmler, Speer and Hitler’s lover Eva Braun. Some other less well known characters are also noted.
In the Nazi era Obersalzberg and Berchtesgaden acted like a magnet for Nazi officials. Since the war tourists have been eager to see where they lived and worked. In some ways it is sad that the buildings mentioned in the book have been destroyed so one can only assess them via contemporary sources such as this volume. However, given what these buildings represented it is not surprising that they were destroyed after the hostilities ended.
If you are considering a visit to this region then this tome is an excellent guide to the region. Also it serves as a memory of the area and in itself is an interesting and captivating book. The author has given the material an excellent treatment and there are numerous period photographs which serve to show the subject in its “original” state.