The Berghof

In November 1938 the English fashion magazine "Homes & Gardens" profiled on page 193-195 the home of Adolf Hitler, for its readers: "Hitler's Mountain home, a visit to 'Haus Wachenfeld' in the Bavarian Alps, written and illustrated by Ignatius Phayre".

There was an author called William George Fitzgerald who wrote under the pseudonym Ignatius Phayre, although there is nothing to say they are the same person, who wrote a study of Thomas Jefferson:

Title: "The Apostle of Unrestraint"
Publication: Can America Last? A Survey of the Emigrant Empire from the Wilderness to World Power, Together with Its Claims to "Sovereignty" in the Western Hemisphere from Pole to Pole
Publisher: J. Murray
Place of Publication: London Date: [1933].

"Country Life" also paid a visit to Hitler's mountain home for their 28 March  1936 edition. One theory is that this piece is simply a rip off of that.

Hitler's Mountain Home

It is over twelve years since Herr Hitler fixed on the site of his one and only home. It had to be close to the Austrian border, hardly ten miles from Mozart's own mediæval Salzburg. At first no more than a hunter's shack, "Haus Wachenfeld" has grown, until it is to-day quite a handsome Bavarian chalet, 2,000 feet up on the Obersalzberg amid pinewoods and cherry orchards. Here, in the early days, Hitler's widowed sister, Frau Angela Raubal, kept house for him on a "peasant" scale. Then, as his famous book, "Mein Kampf" [My Struggle] became a best-seller of astonishing power [4,500,000 copies of it have been sold], Hitler began to think of replacing that humble shack by a house and garden of suitable scope. In this matter he has throughout been his own architect.

There is nothing pretentious about the Führer's little estate. It is one that any merchant of Munich or Nuremberg might possess in these lovely hills.

The entrance hall is filled with a curious display of cactus plants in majolica pots. Herr Hitler's study is fitted as a modern office, and leading out of this is a telephone exchange. From here it is possible for the Führer to invite his friends or Ministers to fly over to Berchesgarden, landing on his own aerodrome just below the chalet lawns.

The site commands the fairest view in all Europe. This is to say much, I know. But in these Bavarian Alps there is a peculiar softness of greenery, with snow-white cascades and forest-clad pinnacles, like the Schönfeldspitze and Teufelshörner.

Hitler's home looks out upon his native Austria. Meals are often served on the terrace on little tables shaded by big canvas umbrellas. From this view-point a chain of drowsy lakes is seen far below, with ancient shrine-chapels hidden in ferny folds of towering rocks. And since the Reichsführer settled here as "Squire of Wachenfeld," the whole region has been starred with motor speedways, even as far as Oberammergau.

The colour scheme throughout this bright, airy chalet is a light jade green. In outside rooms, like the sun-parlour, chairs and tables are of white plaited cane. Here Hitler will read the home and foreign papers which his own air-pilot, Hansel Baur, brings him every day from Berlin before lunch.

At this altitude the Bavarian sun is at its most genial. Even at Christmastime when deep snows are out, Haus Wachenfield basks in warmth like the Engadine's. The effect of light and air in the house is heightened by the rolling and trilling of many Hartz mountain canaries in gilded cages which hang or stand in most of the rooms.

The curtains are of printed linen, or fine damask in the softer shades. The Führer is his own decorator, designer, and furnisher, as well as architect. He is constantly enlarging the place, building on new guest-annexes, and arranging in these his favourite antiques - chiefly German furniture of the eighteenth century, for which agents in Munich are on the look out.

It is a mistake to suppose that week-end guests are all, or even mainly, State officials. Hitler delights in the society of brilliant foreigners, especially painters, singers, and musicians. As host he is a droll raconteur; we all know how surprised were Mr. Lloyd George and his party when they accepted an invitation to Haus Wachenfield.

The guest bedrooms are hung with old engravings. But more interesting than any of these to the visitor are the Führer's own water-colour sketches. Time was when a hungry Hitler was glad to raise a few Marks by selling these little works; none measure more than about eight inches square, and each is signed "A. Hitler" -- unmistakably, if also illegibly!

The gardens are laid out simply enough. Lawns at different levels are planted with flowering shrubs, as well as roses and other blooms in due season. The Führer, I may add, has a passion for cut flowers in his home, as well as for music.

Every morning at nine he goes out for a walk with his gardeners about their day's work. These men, like the chaffeur and air-pilot, are not so much servants as local friends. A life-long vegetarian at table, Hitler's kitchen plots are both varied and heavy in produce. Even in his meatless diet Hitler is something of a gourmet -- as Sir John Simon and Mr. Anthony Eden were surprised to note when they dined with him in the Presidial Palace at Berlin. His Bavarian chef, Herr Kannenberg, contrives an imposing array of vegetarian dishes, savoury and rich, pleasing to the eye as well as to the palate, and all conforming to the dietic standards which Hitler exacts. but at Haus Wachenfeld he keeps a generous table for guests of normal tastes. Here bons viveurs like Field Marshals Göring and von Blomberg, and Joachim von Ribbentrop will forgather at dinner. Elaborate dishes like Caneton à la presse and truite saumoné à la Monseigneur will then be served, with fine wines and liqueurs of von Ribbentrop's expert choosing. Cigars and cigarettes are duly lighted at this terrace feast -- though Hitler himself never smokes, nor does he take alcohol in any form.

All visitors are shown their host's model kennels, where he breeds magnificent Alsatians. Some of his pedigree pets are allowed the run of the house, especially on days when Herr Hitler gives a "Fun Fair" to the local children. On such a day, when State affairs are over, the Squire himself, attended by some of his guests, will stroll through the woods into hamlets above and below. There rustics sit at cottage doors carving trinkets and toys in wood, ivory, and bone. It is then the little ones are invited to the house. Coffee, cakes, fruits, and sweets are laid for them on trestle tables in the grassy orchards. Then Frauen Göbbels and Göring, in dainty Bavarian dress, perform dances and folk-songs, while the bolder spirits are given joy-rides in Herr Hitler's private airplane.

Nor must I forget to mention the archery-butts at the back of the chalet. It is strange to watch the burly Field-Marshall Göring, as chief of the most formidable air force in Europe, taking a turn with the bow and arrow at straw targets of twenty-five yards range. There is as much to-do about those scarlet bulls-eyes as though the fate of nations depended on a full score.

But I have said enough to convey the idea of a sunny sub-alpine home, hundreds of miles from Berlin's uproar, and set amid an unsophisticated peasantry of carvers and hunters. This is a only home in which Hitler can laugh and take his ease -- or even "conduct tours" by means of the tripod telescope which he himself operates on the terrace for his visitors. "This place is mine," he says simply. "I built it with money that I earned." Then he takes you into his library, where you note that quite half the books are on history, painting, architecture, and music. When it is fine enough to dine in the open air, one sees a piano made ready for the after-dinner concert. Local talent will supply violin and cello for pieces by Mozart or Brahms. But at the piano itself it is always that English-speaking giant [he is 6 ft. 4 ins.] - Dr. Ernst ["Putzi"] Hanfstängl who presides as a composer of all-German renown.




What was the legend of the Untersberg mountain, at which Hitler spent many hours gazing from his study in the Berghof? Historians guess that, like King Arthur, Friedrich Barbarossa is buried there, waiting for a call to arise from the dead to come to his country's aid in its hour of need. That is not the legend of the Untersberg, though.

In 1220, Templar Komtur Hubertus Koch, returning with a small party from the Crusades, passed through Mesopotamia, and near the old city of Nineveh in modern Iraq, received an apparition of the goddess Isais [first child of goddess Isis and god Set]. She told him to withdraw to the Untersberg mountain, build a house there and await her next apparition. 

Whether that is true or not, in 1221, Koch erected his first Komturei at the foot of Ettenberg near Markt Schellenberg. A second, larger structure followed. It is believed that over the next few years, underground galleries were excavated into various areas of the Untersberg, and in one of them a temple to Isais was built.

A second apparition occurred in 1226 and were repeated on occasions until 1238. During this period the Templars received "Die Isais Offenbarung", a series of prophesies [recently published] and information concerning the Holy Grail. The Templars at Jerusalem had knowledge of these visitations, over which the Church drew a veil of silence. What follows is only tradition, but may be of interest.

It is the German tradition that the Knights Templars were ordered to form a secret scientific sect in southern Germany, Austria and northern Italy to be known as "Die Herren vom Schwarzen Stein" - The Lords of the Black Stone - or DHvSS for short, and this is said to be the true, hidden meaning of SS.

The Holy Grail ["Ghral" is holy stone in Persian-Arabic] was said to be a black-violet crystal, half quartz, half amethyst, through which Higher Powers communicated with humanity. It was given into the safe-keeping of the Cathars, and smuggled out of the last stronghold at Montsegur, France, and hidden, by four Cathar women on the night of 14 March 1244. There is a Cathar legend that 700 years after the destruction of the Cathar religion the Holy Grail would be returned to its rightful holders, DHvSS, or the SS?

It may be of interest to note in this connection that the Kehlsteinhaus at Obersalzberg, the hexagon-shaped stone pavillion still standing today, bears a striking resemblance to Montsegur when viewed at certain angles from the foot of the great rocky outcrop. Whether this was a coincidence remains in the mind of the beholder.


"Eagle's Nest" 

   Ruins of Montsegur 


"After visiting these two places [Berchtesgaden and the Eagle's Nest on Obersalzberg], you can easily understand how that within a few years Hitler will emerge from the hatred that surrounds him now as one of the most significant figures who ever lived.

"He had boundless ambitions for his country which rendered him a menace to the peace of the world, but he had a mystery about him in the way that he lived and in the manner of his death that will live and grow after him. He had in him the stuff of which legends are made".

-- "Prelude To Leadership: The European Diary of John F. Kennedy - Summer, 1945". Regnery Publishing, Inc. Washington, DC.

Haus Wachenfeld
This is a side view of the simple
alpine home of the Reichschancellor
before the major remodeling of 1936

Berghof Wachenfeld
This is a side view of the remodeled
alpine home of the Reichschancellor

Landhaus Göring
after its final renovation, with the
Untersberg mountains in the background. 

The view from Göring's house was the best of any of the Obersalzberg
Third Reich homes

Reichsleiter Martin Bormann took over
"Haus Hudler," a small home
owned by a Dr.Seitz.

This house site was ideal for Bormann,
as it overlooked Hitler's Berghof
and much of the rest of the
Obersalzberg complex.

From here, Bormann could keep an eye on everything, including the comings
and goings at the Berghof



In the second half of the 19th century the humble mountain village of Obersalzberg was transformed into one of the most important health resorts in Germany.

The opening of a guesthouse called 'Pension Moritz' by Mauritia Mayer in 1877 led to the rise of tourism at Obersalzberg. Bruno Büchner, a later owner, changed the name of the guesthouse to Platterhof in the Nineteen Twenties.

It was extended from 1936 to a hotel for "verdiente Volksgenossen" [members of the national community rewarded for commendable service]. During the war the hotel was used as a Millitary hospital.

Adolf Hitler visited Obersalzberg for the first time in May 1923. After his premature release from imprisonment in the prison of Landsberg/Lech he repeatedly returned to Obersalzberg, where he also dictated the second part of "Mein Kampf" [My Struggle]. After the "Seizure of Power" Obersalzberg became a place of pilgrimage for enthusiastic Hitler supporters from throughout the Reich. Soon the only people to be admitted were organized groups and guests of the Party and the government. Obersalzberg thus evolved into a major element in NS propaganda and the Hitler myth.

The Berghof was developed in stages from a much smaller chalet called Haus Wachenfeld, a holiday home built in 1916 [or 1917] by Kommerzienrat Otto Winter, a businessman from Buxtehude. This was located near the Platterhof, the former "Pension Moritz" where Hitler had stayed in 1923. By 1926, the family running the Pension had left and Hitler did not like the new owner. He moved first to the "Marineheim" and then to a hotel in Berchtesgaden, the "Deutsches Haus", where he dictated the second volume of "Mein Kampf" in the summer of 1926. Hitler met his alleged lover Maria Reiter, who worked in a shop on the ground floor of the hotel, during another visit in autumn 1926.

Only two women had emerged with any clarity from Adolf Hitler's shadowy private life: his youthful niece, Geli Raubal, and Eva Braun. Both died violent deaths. When in March 1959 Hitler's sister, Paula Wolf, casually mentioned to a German reporter that she had recently visited with "perhaps the only woman my brother ever loved," Günter Peis' news instincts were understandably aroused. The woman turned out to be Maria Reiter, blonde, buxom and 49, now living quietly in a Munich suburb. Reluctant at first, Maria finally gave Peis the long-kept secret of her uneven romance with Hitler from 1926 into the '30s. As Peis reported it in the German weekly, "Der Stern", and in the "London Sunday Pictorial", it was straight soap opera. But Maria had letters to prove it.

Mimi and Wolf

It all began in a Berchtesgaden park, in 1926. Maria, 16, and Hitler, 37, were walking their police dogs. He was just a struggling young party leader then. Hitler liked Maria's fresh Nordic charm, and she confessed to her sister: "He cuts a fine figure with those riding breeches and that riding crop". Hitler invited her to come and hear him speak. Afterward, he fed her cake with his fingers, but when she refused him a good-night kiss, Hitler glowered and stalked out with an abrupt "Heil!"

But soon they were taking long rides in Hitler's Mercedes. Hitler called her "Mimi," and at his request she called him "Wolf". The only thing that troubled Mimi was that Wolf would never put down his riding crop. Then one golden day they got out of the car and romped in the meadows like children. Leading Mimi to a tall pine, Hitler said: "Just stand there as you are. You're my forest sprite . . . Later you will understand". It was their first stormy kiss. "I was so happy I wished I could die," says Maria. On the way back to the car, Hitler told her that his ideal was to marry and have blond children, but that he must save Germany first. After that, there were tète-à-tètes in Hitler's Munich apartment, and they dreamed aloud of their future together. But it was not to be.


Worried by rumors that his romance with Mimi was hurting him politically, Hitler broke things off in the summer of 1928. Mimi tried hanging herself, but her brother-in-law found her and cut her down before she died. After this episode Reiter gave up on Hitler and married a local hotelkeeper in Seefeld. But the marriage was not a success. In 1931 Reiter left her husband.

Then in January 1931, there was a knock on her door. It was Rudolf Hess. "Hitler sent me," he said. "He wants to know if you are happy". Maria got the idea and soon ran off to Munich. There was a touching reconciliation on Hitler's sofa and one breathless Liebesnacht—night of love. Peis quoted Maria: "I let him do what he wanted. I was never so happy". Hitler told her: "Mimilein, I'm rich now. I can offer you everything. Stay with me . . . I've never loved any woman as I love you", but Reiter wanted marriage. Hitler was concerned that a relationship with a woman who had left her husband would be politically damaging to him, so the couple parted. Nevertheless Hitler delegated his personal lawyer Hans Frank to handle her divorce.

In 1934 after Hitler's rise to power, Reiter met him once more and he again asked her to become his lover. Again she refused. This led to an angry argument in which Hitler reiterated that he could not marry or have children because he had a "big mission" to fulfill. Eventually Mimi married Hauptsturmführer Georg Kubisch, an SS officer, in 1936. Hitler congratulated Kubisch on his marriage at an assembly of the SS in Munich. Kubisch was killed in 1940 during the Battle of Dunkirk, after which Hitler sent Mimi a hundred red roses.

Mimi's last meeting with Hitler was in his apartment on Prinzregentenstrasse in Munich in 1938. "Are you happy, Wolf?" she asked him there. "No, if you mean with Eva," answered Hitler. "I tell her every day she ought to find some young fellow. I'm too old". [Hitler was then 49]. Then Mimi asked her old lover what everyone else was asking: "Will there be war?" Der Führer shrugged his shoulders and turned away.

The details of Reiter's story about their physical relationship cannot be confirmed, though the fact that Hitler was in love with her was asserted by his sister Paula Hitler, who stated that she was the only woman who might have curbed his destructive impulses. Further, two letters dating from April 1945 by Reiter to Hitler were found after the war. They were "written in affectionate terms" and suggest intimacy by the words used.

In 1928, Winter's widow rented Haus Wachenfeld to Hitler  for 100 Reichsmarks in 1928, and his half-sister Angela came to live there as housekeeper, although she left soon after her daughter Geli's 1931 death in Hitler's Munich apartment.

In 1933 Hitler was eventually able to purchase the house with funds he received through the sale of his book "Mein Kampf", and in the following years the modest country house was converted into the Berghof.

Other than the Wolfsschanze ("Wolf's Lair"), his headquarters in East Prussia for the invasion of the Soviet Union, Hitler spent more time at the Berghof than anywhere else during World War II. It was also one of the most widely known of his headquarters, which were located throughout Europe.

The site is breathtakingly scenic. The valley below appears by illusion to be a lake almost at one's feet.

Other leading NS figures settled there as well: Hermann Göring, Martin Bormann, Albert Speer [Hitler's favorite architect after the death of Paul Ludwig Troost]. After the former inhabitants had been driven out, the erstwhile health resort was turned into the 'Führersperrgebiet' [the "Führer’s off-limits area"] with an infrastructure allowing the execution of government. The old village and its inhabitants, some of whom were families who had lived here for hundreds of years, had to yield to these new circumstances. Within a few short years the entire region of Berchtesgaden evolved into a second seat of government, a "Branch Office of Berlin".

Obersalzberg was not only a center from which power was exercised, it was also a political arena for the 'Cult of Hitler', through which the 'Führer" Myth' – legitimizing Hitler's personal dictatorship - was continually nurtured.

The small chalet-style building was refurbished and much expanded during 1935–36 by architect Alois Degano when it was renamed The Berghof. A large terrace was built and featured big, colourful, resort-style canvas umbrellas. The entrance hall "was filled with a curious display of cactus plants in majolica pots." A dining room was panelled with very costly cembra pine. Hitler's large study had a telephone switchboard room. The library contained books "on history, painting, architecture and music."

A great hall was furnished with expensive Teutonic furniture, a large globe and an expansive red marble fireplace mantel. Behind one wall was a projection booth for evening screenings of films [often, Hollywood productions that were otherwise banned in Germany]. A sprawling picture window could be lowered into the wall to give a sweeping, open air view of the snow-capped mountains in Hitler's native Austria.

The house was maintained much like a small resort hotel by several housekeepers, gardeners, cooks and other domestic workers. "This place is mine," Hitler was quoted as saying to a writer for "Homes and Gardens" magazine in 1938. "I built it with money that I earned".

Hitler's personal valet Heinz Linge stated that Hitler and his longtime companion Eva Braun had two bedrooms and two bathrooms with interconnecting doors and Hitler would end most evenings alone with her in his study drinking tea.

Though Hitler did not smoke, smoking was allowed on the terrace. His vegetarian diet was supplied by nearby kitchen gardens and, later, a greenhouse. A large complex of mountain homes for the Nazi leadership with a landing strip and many buildings for their security and support staff were constructed nearby.

The Berghof became something of a German tourist attraction during the mid-1930s. Visitors gathered at the end of the driveway or on nearby public paths in the hope of catching a glimpse of Hitler. This led to the introduction of severe restrictions on access to the area and other security measures. A large contingent of the SS Leibstandarte Adolf Hitler were housed in barracks adjacent to the Berghof. Under the command of Obersturmbannführer Bernhard Frank, they patrolled an extensive cordoned security zone that encompassed the nearby homes of the other Nazi leaders.

Obersturmbannführer [Lieutenant Colonel] Bernhard Frank [15 July 1913 – 29 June 2011] was an SS Commander of the Obersalzberg complex who arrested Hermann Göring on 25 April 1945 by order of Adolf Hitler, who had been manipulated by Reichsleiter Bormann into believing Göring was attempting to usurp the Führer's authority. Frank placed Göring under house arrest but ignored later orders to execute the Reichsmarschall.

Frank was reportedly one of the few Schutzstaffel officers inducted into the rites at Wewelsburg Castle, and after the war claimed that he had arranged the eventual surrender of Berchtesgaden [where Hitler's mountain residence, the Berghof, was located], to prevent needless damage to the Berghof. He later wrote a 144-page book entitled "Hitler, Göring and the Obersalzberg".

In December 2010, Mark Gould announced that he had spent several years befriending Frank and coaxing his story out of him, and that Frank had confessed to him a role in the Holocaust far more extensive than had previously been known. Gould recorded their conversations, and says that in one of them Frank told him that on 28 July 1941, he signed an order that led to the SS massacre of Jews in Korets, including relatives of Gould's adoptive father. Gould released an edited extract of his recordings on the Internet.

According to Gould, this order was "the first order of the Reich instructing the mass murder of hundreds of thousands of Jews, later turning into the Nazi systematic extermination machine. Historian Guy Walters described this characterisation as "pure junk"; in an article downplaying Gould's findings, he denounced as "ludicrous" the idea that Frank "somehow started the Holocaust".

Another day, another tall "Last Nazi" story
By Guy Walters
The Telegraph
7 December 2010

This winter seems to have unearthed numerous elderly Nazis, and today has proved to be no exception. Israel's "Yedioth Ahronoth" is reporting the finding by an American called Mark Gould of a 97-year-old former SS officer, Bernhard Frank, who, according to the report, "was responsible for signing the first order of the Reich instructing the mass murder of hundreds of thousands of Jews".

This claim is pure junk.

Although I've no doubt that Frank was in the SS, the significance of his role in the Holocaust has been blown grossly out of proportion.

In 2006 Bernhard Frank published a book about his Nazi career, called "As Hitler’s Commandant — From the Wewelsburg to the Berghof," complete with photographs of himself as a dashing young officer in uniform. He has also appeared on German television in shows about the Third Reich.

During the Nazi era, he served as a librarian at Wewelsburg Castle, the ideological training ground for the SS, receiving his Ph.D. in 1938. He subsequently occupied a senior position on Himmler’s administrative staff, keeping what was called the war diary.

He co-signed some of Himmler’s orders and later served as a commander at the eastern front. He eventually was made commander of Obersalzberg, the site of Hitler’s mountain retreat, the Berghof. Toward the end of the war, Mr. Frank was ordered to arrest and kill Hermann Göring, an order which he defied.

All that is in Mr. Frank’s book.

Kurt Schrimm, chief of the Federal Archives Central Office for the Investigation of Nazi Crimes in Germany, said that Mr. Frank’s name appeared in the archives, but never in connection with war crimes. Other Nazi experts also said that Mr. Frank was not linked to war crimes.

The story says that Frank signed a "Kommando Stadt order" on 28 July 1941, which I assume actually means an order issued by Himmler's Kommandostab Reichsführer-SS, which was established in May 1941 to conduct anti-partisan operations, and by late June, to perform what Himmler ominously called 'other tasks' – ie, killing Jews.

Himmler started issuing orders to "comb the Pripet Marshes" in early July, and on 19 and 22 July, he ordered his units to "impose peace" on the occupied territories. The order he gave on 28 July simply provided further directives for this ongoing operation, and also formally handed control to Erich von dem Bach-Zelewski. Two days later, Himmler made himself more explicit, by insisting that "all Jewish men should be executed, and the women and children pushed into the swamps". [Source: "Holocaust and Genocide Studies", Volume 1, Number 1, 1986, 'Kommandostab Reichsführer-SS: Himmler's Personal Murder Brigades in 1941' by Yehoshua Büchler].

Furthermore, according to Dr Efraim Zuroff of the Simon Wiesenthal Center, Frank's signature is one of many on the document, and Frank's responsibility only seems to encompass the language used in the document rather than the actual order itself. Frank himself has been living openly in Germany for years, and there is no evidence to link him to committing any war crimes.

It should also be borne in mind that these orders are far from the first in which the murders of Jews were called for. Bernhard Frank may not have been a good man during the war, but the idea that he somehow started the Holocaust is ludicrous.

UPDATE: I'm glad to see the scepticism is gaining a lot of traction. There's a great piece in the "New York Times" by Michael Slackman that nicely captures the motivation of Gould, while my friend Michael Burleigh observes that the memories of elderly former Nazis are often tainted by endless documentaries about the Third Reich. "Old Nazis watch a lot of telly too," he says. "Sometimes they can't even remember if they were at Auschwitz or Austerlitz".

With the outbreak of war extensive anti-aircraft defences were also installed, including smoke generating machines to conceal the Berghof complex from hostile aircraft. Further, the nearby former hotel 'Turken' was turned into quarters to house the Reichssicherheitsdienst (RSD) SS security men who patrolled the grounds of the Berghof.

After the Berghof was completed in 1936, the Führer liked to receive guests of state and other high-ranking personalities here in order to present himself as a major, highly respected statesman of the world. Against the majestic mountain backdrop Hitler could be portrayed as a visionary far removed from the banalities of everyday life.

Above all, Obersalzberg added to the image of the brilliant "Führer" as a man with feelings and sensibilities. The cult ostensibly lifted the veil surrounding Hitler's private life and showed him here as a simple man of the people, as a friend of children, animals and nature, as a good neighbor, in short, as a normal, warm-hearted person whom one could trust blindly. The calculated and orchestrated scenario of ordinariness and normality, which even today is mistaken by many for historical reality, was to be exposed for what it really was: subtle propaganda that aided in consolidating Hitler's personal power and his regime.

Guests at the Berghof included political figures, monarchs, heads of state and diplomats along with painters, singers and musicians. The important visitors personally greeted on the steps of the Berghof by Hitler included David Lloyd George [3 March 1936], the Aga Khan [20 October 1937], Duke and Duchess of Windsor [22 October 1937], Kurt von Schuschnigg [12 February 1938], Neville Chamberlain [15 September 1938] and Benito Mussolini [19 January 1941].

On 11 May 1941 Karlheinz Pintsch visited the Berghof to deliver a letter from Rudolf Hess informing him of his illegal flight to Scotland.

Karlheinz Pintsch [1909 -?] was the long serving senior adjutant to Rudolf Hess who was the Deputy Führer to Adolf Hitler in Nazi Germany. It fell to him to report Hess's illegal May 1941 flight to Scotland to Hitler and his recollections and notes have been the subject of debate by historians.

Pintsch entered the Nazi Party in 1925 and in 1934 he became the adjutant to Hess, attaining the rank of Sturmbannführer [major]. He accompanied him on visits to Augsburg-Haunstetten airfield where he was learning to fly the aircraft that he flew to Scotland on 10 May 1941. Before he departed on his mission Hess gave Pintsch a sealed letter for him to deliver personally to Adolf Hitler if he did not return within four hours and Pintsch handed it to him at the Berghof in Bavaria at noon the next day. Albert Speer who was in the vicinity recalled that Hitler bellowed for Martin Bormann after reading the letter.

Bormann ordered the arrest of Hess's associates and Pintsch was cashiered from the SS and interrogated by the Gestapo. He was then jailed for his knowledge of the flight and held in solitary confinement, as was Hess’s other adjutant Alfred Leitgen. On 7 August 1941 Hess wrote to his wife and included a letter to Pintsch in which he said he had heard rumours that he had been arrested and thanked him for his loyalty and his silence.

Pintsch was released from prison in 1944 to serve on the Eastern Front and was promoted to lieutenant. He was captured by the Red Army, betrayed by another prisoner and interrogated by the NKVD at length. They reportedly tried to elicit a confession by breaking his fingers and as a consequence he was no longer able to use a knife and fork. He was released with 600 other prisoners of war at Camp Friedland, Lower Saxony, after 11 years in Soviet captivity on 16 December 1955. He was interviewed by Lord Beaverbrook's former private secretary, the "Daily Express" foreign correspondent James Leasor. and was interviewed for a 1962 book by Leasor that was entitled "Rudolf Hess: The Uninvited Envoy".

A 28-page notebook written by Pintsch in captivity in 1948 was discovered in a Moscow archive in 2010 by historians.

In the notebook he writes that Hitler hoped that an "agreement with the Englishmen would be  successful".

Pintsch notes that Hess’s task –five weeks before Germany launched its invasion of Russia– was to "bring about, if not a military alliance of Germany with England against Russia, then to bring about a neutralisation of England".

Pintsch’s interrogation transcripts found in the same archive in Moscow show that Hitler was not surprised when news came through of Hess’s capture.

The relevant section reads: "Nor did he rant and rave about what Hess had done. Instead, he replied calmly: 'At this particular moment in the war that could be a most hazardous escapade'.

"Hitler then went on to read a letter that Hess had sent him.

"He read the following significant passage out aloud: 'And if this project ends in failure. it will always be possible for you to deny all responsibility. Simply say I was out of my mind'.

This is what happened, with both Hitler and Churchill claiming Hess was deranged.

At the end of July 1941 Hitler summoned his military chiefs from OKW and OKH to the Berghof for the 'Berghof Conference' at which the 'Russian problem' was studied.

Hitler's social circle at his Berghof retreat – which his intimates referred to as "on the Berg" – included Eva Braun and her sister Gretl, Eva's friend Marianne Schönmann, Herta Schneider and her children, Heinrich Hoffmann and the wives and children of other Nazi leaders and Hitler's staff who would all pose for an annual group photograph on the occasion of Hitler's birthday. The social scene at the Berghof ended on 14 July 1944 when Hitler left for his military headquarters in East Prussia, never to return.

Two guests planned to use a visit to the Berghof as an opportunity to assassinate Hitler. On 11 March 1944 Captain Eberhard von Breitenbuch arrived with a concealed pistol with the intention of shooting Hitler in the head, but guards would not allow him into the same room. On 7 June 1944 Colonel Claus Schenk Graf von Stauffenberg planned to detonate a bomb at a meeting there, but his fellow conspirators would not give him approval to do so because Himmler and Hermann Göring were not also present. There was also a British plan called Operation Foxley for a sniper to kill Hitler on his daily walk from the Berghof to the Teehaus.
Aerial photograph of the promenade
from the Berghof to the "Teehaus"

In 1937, a Teehaus with a round main room was built in a wooded area on Mooslahnerkopf hill [Braun spelled it Moslanderkopf in photo albums], across the small Obersalzberg valley from the Berghof. Hitler took an almost daily afternoon walk there when he was at Berchtesgaden. The stroll along the mostly wooded path between the Berghof and the teahouse was less than a kilometre and at one spot featured a scenic overlook of the whole valley, fitted with wooden railings and a bench, where many widely known photographs were taken and political discussions were held. At the teahouse Hitler might even nap in an easy chair, surrounded by friends and associates from his inner circle. Most of the few surviving photographs of Hitler wearing eyeglasses were taken in the teahouse. Some sources have now and then mistakenly captioned photographs snapped in the Mooslahnerkopf Teehaus as having been shot in the spectacular Kehlsteinhaus far above the Berghof, where Hitler seldom went.

"The Führer has no Private Life" was the slogan of Nazi Propaganda

In order not to spoil the orchestrated illusion of a dictator far removed from all earthly things, so as to insinuate that the selfless Führer was sacrificing himself for German greatness, his girlfriend had to remain a secret.

This greatly increased his allure to German women, many of whom sent him love letters, presents and marriage offers.

Eva Braun was condemned to a life of secrecy. At the age of 19, she became Hitler's mistress, received a house, expensive clothes, fast cars and French perfume - but no wedding ring. Officially, she went under the name of private secretary and drew a salary from party funds. He called her "Tschapperl", she had to call him "mein Führer". When state visitors came to Hitler's chalet Berghof, she was banished to her room. Only the entourage at the estate near Berchtesgaden really knew what was going on. It was not until he faced total defeat, in the underground world of the Chancellery Bunker when the Red Army took Berlin, that he married Eva Braun. The burning of the bodies in the forecourt of the Chancellery building not only marked the end of an era of terror, but also of a relationship shrouded in mystery between the dictator and a woman whom he was prepared to marry only after taking the mutual decision to commit suicide.

The Kehlsteinhaus was to be the aiming point of an 25 April 1945 Royal Air Force bombing raid. The small house proved an elusive target for the force of 359 Avro Lancasters and 16 de Havilland Mosquitoes, with the Berghof area bombed and severely damaged instead. The Berghof was set on fire by retreating SS troops in early May, and looted after Allied troops reached the area. was demolished in 1952.

The burnt out shell ruins of the Berghof, and the houses of Göring and Bormann and the SS barracks were demolished by the Bavarian government in 1952. Only a few buildings survived, including the Kehlstein House - the "Eagle's Nest" - and the Bunker complex.

The Kehlsteinhaus [known as the Eagle's Nest in English-speaking countries] is a Third Reich-era edifice erected on a ridge atop the Kehlstein, a 1,834 m [6,017 ft] subpeak of the Hoher Göll that rises above the Obersalzberg near the town of Berchtesgaden. It lies several miles directly above the Berghof. In a rare diplomatic engagement Hitler received departing French ambassador André François-Poncet there on 18 October 1938, and the name "Eagle's Nest" came from a description of the place by him.  

It was commissioned by Martin Bormann in the summer of 1937 to be presented to Adolf Hitler on his 50th birthday, as a retreat and place to entertain friends and visiting dignitaries. Paid for by the Nazi Party, it was completed in 13 months but held until a formal presentation on 20 April 1939. In fact, Hitler seldom visited the Eagle’s Nest, as he did not like the height and the resulting changes in air pressure, and the perceived dangers of lightning and the elevator.
The Kehlsteinhaus was designed by architect Roderich Fick as a wooden frame structure, but it consists of 80% concrete, particularly in the area of the octagonal main hall or reception room. The outside walls, as well as the interior walls, are covered by a façade of granite stones, which gives the impression that the building is a solid stone structure. The granite stones came from a quarry near Passau.

The building's main reception room is dominated by a fireplace of red Italian marble presented by Italian dictator Benito Mussolini. Much of the furniture was designed by Paul Laszlo.

Created with materials from all over Germany, the Kehlsteinhaus project made use of the best architects, engineers and workers from across the country.

It is reached via the serpent-like Kehlsteinstraße, one of the most magnificent mountain roads in the world and the highest in Germany.  It is a work of engineering that is, in the opinion of a number of experts, years ahead of its time. The techniques used for building this road became benchmarks for future projects. It  has also required minimal maintenance, which attests to the quality of workmanship.

Although the chief road inspector, Dr. Fritz Todt, gave the final OK to build the road, it was actually the state engineer August Michahelles, who planned it.

It is a 4 m [13 ft] wide approach road which climbs 800 m [2,600 ft] over 6.5 km [4.0 mi] long, and had to be blasted out of the rock and constructed at the same time as the house. It includes five tunnels but only one hairpin turn.

An elevator built into the mountain goes up to the Kehlsteinhaus. A 3-ton marble slab above the door to the tunnel, which leads to the elevator, is engraved with the words "Erbaut 1938". The door to the tunnel has handles in the shape of a lion. The interior of the elevator has solid brass walls and Venetian mirrors to make it look less confining, since Hitler was known to suffer from claustrophobia. On his infrequent visits to the Kehlsteinhaus, Hitler would stand in the exact center of the elevator.

Undamaged in the 25 April 1945 bombing raid, the Kehlsteinhaus was subsequently used by the Allies as a military command post until 1960, when it was handed back to the State of Bavaria.

The pleasant walk to the "Teehaus"
often became the scene
for important political decisions

Referred to as the "D-Haus", short for "Diplomatic Reception Haus", the Kehlsteinhaus is often conflated with the Mooslahnerkopf Teehaus at the Berghof, which Hitler visited daily after lunch. That teahouse no longer exists, as it was demolished by the Bavarian government after the war.

Snow covers a new four-star Inter Continental holiday
resort in southern Bavarian town of Berchtesgaden.
The 138-room resort opened on 1 March 2005
and is located near Adolf Hitler's former Alpine retreat,
the Berghof in Obersalzberg