Adolf Hitler. Everyone has heard of him. He is known as possibly the most ruthless and indiscriminate murderer in history. Despite all the bloodshed Hitler caused, his plans for European and world domination were ultimately never realized.
As the Soviet Union took control in the Second World War, German forces were pushed back westward. By 1945, Germany was indeed on the back foot with the near-unstoppable Soviet offensive in full flow. Although Hitler was not in the German capital Berlin for most of the war, that was where he spent his final months alive.
Specifically, he moved into the Führerbunker, situated beneath the Reich Chancellery (Hitler's office in Berlin). This underground bunker was heavily fortified, decorated, and supplied with luxuries for Hitler's comfort. It was in this underground maze that the Nazis coordinated their final maneuvers.
There is much interest in the peculiar circumstances of Adolf Hitler's death. This has caused plenty of speculation and theories about whether he actually committed suicide or managed to flee Germany, and we may never learn his true fate. The images below give fascinating glimpses of the place where history's most infamous leader spent the final days of World War 2.
Hitler moved into his new accommodation on January 16th, 1945. The German word translates to Reich Chancellery. This served as the office for the chancellor of Germany. The spectacular building was designed by Hitler's favorite architect and contained many beautiful meeting rooms and halls.
The Führerbunker was designed as a bomb shelter whenever Adolf Hitler was at the chancellery. As Germany and especially Berlin came under increasingly heavy fire, this underground labyrinth became his permanent residence.
A View From Outside
This image was taken after Hitler's death but before the demolition of the Reichskanzlei ― you can see the damaged buildings in the background. The concrete hut on the left was the entrance to the bunker from the courtyard of the chancellery. The structure on the right was an observation tower, accessible from the bunker below.
The Location Of The Führerbunker
The shelter itself consisted of two main sections; the Vorbunker and the Führerbunker. The Vorbunker was the initial section of the bunker and was directly connected to the cellar in the chancellery. The Vorbunker was a smaller set of chambers that led to the more spacious Führerbunker behind.
The two sections of the bunker are marked in red on the map above. The Vorbunker could be reached through staircases from inside the Reichskanzlei. A corridor led through to the Führerbunker. The previous image shows the emergency entrance/exit to the Führerbunker from the garden outside.
A Diagram Of The Living Space
The Vorbunker (on the right-hand side) was situated beneath the basement of a reception hall in the chancellery. The Führerbunker was 2.5 m deeper and accessible by a staircase. The shelter had many different areas, including meeting rooms, kitchens, bedrooms, studies, communication rooms, ventilation rooms, etc.
A Chaotic Desk
Here you see a messy scene with various items scattered across a desk in the bunker. It was in rooms like this that Hitler and his top officials planned military strategies and learned about how the war was progressing.
The Führerbunker was certainly not an average bomb shelter. For the bunker to be fit for the chancellor of Germany, it had to be decorated with comfortable furniture and supplied with luxurious goods. The rooms of the Führerbunker were protected from above by a 3.5 m layer of concrete.
Unidentified Artwork In The Führerbunker
Along with dining, kitchen, and living areas, Hitler and his companions could indulge in other passions while sheltering underground.
As we all know, before turning to politics, Adolf Hitler had strong ambitions of becoming an artist. This shattered painting has not been linked to anybody but was apparently stolen from a museum in Milan.
The Führerbunker was built with ventilation plus supplies of water and electricity. Underground, it was possible to make phone calls and listen to radio broadcasts.
The Führerbunker was very secure and could be closed off from the Vorbunker. There were also two escape routes; through the emergency exit and through the Vorbunker into the chancellery.
The Aftermath Of The War
You can see various items in this scene, including picture frames, an untidy desk, telephone wires, and other furniture. It is not hard to imagine the tense atmosphere once the Nazis began to lose the war.
Hitler was accompanied by his spouse Eva Braun and propagandist Joseph Goebbels who stayed with his family in the Vorbunker.
The Last Image Of Hitler
This is said to be the last known photograph of Adolf Hitler, taken soon before he died in April 1945. On the day before his death (April 29th), he married Eva Braun. In the photo, he is observing the damage to the chancellery.
This image is controversial. Some claim that this is Adolf Hitler's dead body.
The official story is that Hitler and his spouse committed suicide together.
Hitler shot himself while Braun ingested a cyanide pill. It is then believed that their remains were burned by their assistants before Soviet soldiers could capture them. Hence, it is unclear who took this picture.
Other photos show Soviet soldiers in the bunker.
The Demolished Exterior
This image was taken after the war had ended and shows the demolished entrance hut and observation tower after repeated bombing campaigns.
The Ruins Of The Reich Chancellery
This is the rubble from the once glorious chancellery captured in the late 80s. Before the German reunification, this area was a hostile region between West and East Berlin.
The Area Today
Today, the bunker's location is home to a parking lot and a few grass spots. In 2006, a subtle yet interesting information board was installed next to the parking lot to inform passers-by of the importance of the area.
In Popular Culture
The Führerbunker was where Hitler found out that the Germans had lost the war. This scene and Hitler's furious reaction became known worldwide thanks to the 2004 film Der Untergang (The Downfall).
Many parodies with alternative subtitles have been created.