Friday, 26 September 2014

To Obersalzberg, Up the Führer's 'Eagle's Nest'

A couple of weeks back, a friend tagged me on Facebook to list down ten books that have made a difference in my life. I never do an off-the-top-of-my-head list as I take such invites as something to reflect on. I've been wondering where my fixation about World War II and the events and places involved stem from. I'm now convinced that it all began with a copy of 'The Diary of a Young Girl' that my father gave to me in my early teens. 

Continental Europe seemed far-flung to my 13-year-old self then, but I made a pact with myself that given the chance, I'll visit war landmarks I read on Anne Frank's diary and watched on documentaries. 

As mentioned in my previoust post, the trip to Munich is linked to last year's trip to Berlin. From Munich, we took a bus to Obersalzberg, a mountainside retreat close to the border of Austria. Obersalzberg has become known as the place where Adolf Hitler's mountain residence, the Berghof, was located before it was demolished.

It was a two-hour drive from the centre of Munich to Obersalzberg where the bus windows served as viewing screen to the picturesque countryside. 

Quarry water flows through the river  which turns blue when light is absorbed by the water

The ascent up the Oberzalsberg to the Kehlsteinhaus is mesmerizing on a sunny day

Overlooking the market town of Berchtesgaden in Bavaria, Germany, the 'Eagle's Nest', as dubbed by the American Army, is situated at 1,834 metres (6,017 feet) above sea level. The especially constructed road that leads to it is on an 800-metre (2,300 feet) elevation, runs at 7 km (4 miles) with a width of 4 m (13 feet), and can be reached via five tunnels. 

Taking only less than two years to complete in 1938, the 'Eagle's Nest' was a gift from the National Socialist Party (NS) to Hitler on his 50th birthday, as a retreat house where he can entertain political allies and visiting dignitaries. Pictured is the entrance to the 124-metre-long tunnel which leads to another 124-metre-long vertical tunnel hewn  in the rocky mountain that serves a brass-pannelled lift that takes us up to a 41-second ride to the Kehlsteinhaus. At the top, as seen in the photo, is the 'Eagle's Nest'.

The tunnel. Hitler used to be driven from the entrance to the lift. Mere mortals walk

Queueing to take the same lift that Adolf Hitler and his henchmen used

The domed ceiling of the lift waiting area

Otherwise known as the 'Eagle's Nest' in English-speaking countries, it is now a restaurant and an outdoor beer garden, with impressive views of the mountain; Berchtesgaden; and weather permitting, Salzburg in Austria.

Rear view of the Kehlsteinhaus. At 1,834 metres (6,017 feet), the weather at the top can get quite unpredictable, as if controlled via a slider that takes you from sunny, bright and warm to foggy, grey and nippy in a  matter of seconds. We got lucky to have caught some sunny patches before the clouds closed in on us.

You can see the fog lifting up...

The charitable trust that manages the Kehlsteinhaus employs rock cleaners every spring who remove any obstacle that may pose danger to visitors and tourists. The bendy buses used are made and powered by MAN for the specific task of a smooth ride to reach the peak.

The original red marble fireplace gifted by Benito Mussolini to Hitler

The fog can blur everything in seconds, leaving you without a view

Closer to the foot of the mountain is the Dokumentation Obersalzberg (the pictured building) which houses a permanent exhibition for visitors to further understand the propaganda of the National Socialist regime and reflect on the events surrounding this historical site. It was designed by the Institute of Contemporary History Munich-Berlin on behalf of the Free State of Bavaria.  

There are over 950 photos, documents, posters, films and sound recordings which aim to academically and scientifically inform visitors in an understable manner. Some are made available to the public for the first time. As someone who has been watching war documentaties for at least 15 years, there was still so much I haven't seen.

Inside the building is a preserved Bunker Complex built between 1943 and 1945 in the event that buildings at the surface are damaged and the area falls into enemy hands. There are excavations for extensions left unfinished.

This wall is part of the artillery room where a hole in the wall allows guards to catch and shoot intruders before they manage to close in to the bunkers

An unused lift shaft

A short walk from the Dokumentation Obersalzberg site is a restaurant that serves Bavarian delicacies. That spells beer, of course. We had a sumptuous lunch before heading to the market town of Berchtesgaden.

For that acquired taste: sauerkraut and mustard

Currywurst for the man in the house

Not from Munich, but just as wonderful as other German beer

All of the above enjoyed with this view in the background.

Next post, we'll be exploring the market town of Berchtesgaden.

See you then!

There is indeed light at the end of the tunnel


  1. Ahhh...this was amazing. Never seen any of this before. The food looked great, love sauerkraut, haha :) I look forward to the next post ;)) Have a great weekend doll xx

    1. Thanks doll. Oh yes, sausages!! Lots of people don't like sauerkraut. I love it. I think it's perfect with beer. Have a good week x

  2. Those views - stunning. I remember you did tell me about the beer and being one to always want to try something new I should add this place to my bucket list. You are so knowledgeable about this history - perhaps in your 'spare' time you should be a lecturer/teacher or tour guide. Did you learn all these facts from your own research or from a tour guide during your travels? Have a good weekend x

    1. The views were really stunning :) The bus windows were so clear (they probably deliberately designed it like that) they were perfect for picture-taking. I can't imagine myself being a lecturer! Hahaha. But thank you :) I managed to collect literature about this, so I sound as if I'm so knowledgeable. The tour guides were very informative. They're locals you see. Have a good week x

  3. What an interesting place to visit; I hadn't heard about this one before. A great opportunity to learn about history and one of the darkest chapters of the 20th century.

    1. I'm suprised actually that lots of Europeans haven't heard of it. You might want the market town below the mountains. It's called Berchtesgaden which I'll feature next time.

  4. This trip must have been fascinating in so many ways. The scenery is just breathtaking and I particularly like the first photo. It's one of those areas where each scene is better than the last whether the sun shines or not. I love a restauant with a view too! A very informative post ..

    1. It was indeed fascinating miss b. I've always wanted to see these places which I grew up seeing from war documentaries. That's so true, there are places that are just perfect for picture-taking whatever the weather. Thank you so much for dropping by again.

  5. Very beautiful photos! And the fog lifting up is really magic!

    1. Thank you dan :) Yes that scenery was mesmerising :)


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