In June 2011, a group of Sharkhunters visited historic places of the Third Reich in what was known as “The Southern Redoubt” as the Allies thought that the leaders of the Reich would make a desperate last ditch stand here in the tunnels, bunkers and other hiding places. Actually, the only one of the hierarchy in this area was Hermann Göring. The others had all gone their separate ways to death, capture or escape.
Click on any of these photos to propel yourself through the ‘Tunnels of Time‘ as only Sharkhunters can take you.
The Hotel zum Türken is our official Sharkhunters ‘Home Away from Home’ in Germany; owned and operated by our dear friend and longtime Member INGRID SCHARFENBERG (3308-A/LIFE-1993). This hotel was built around 1630 and was bought by Karl Schuster (her Grandfather) on 27 September 1911.
This hotel was immediately next to the mountain home of Adolf Hitler and so Martin Bormann wanted to buy the hotel but Schuster refused. Bormann had him put into the concentration camp at Dachau to force him to sell. A sick and broken man, Schuster agreed to sell the hotel for 165,000 Reichsmarks but Bormann withheld most of the money. A broken man, Schuster died in 1934 at age 56.
Shortly after the end of the war, INGRID acquired the hotel back. It was only a shell, having been bombed badly on 25 April 1945 but with hard work, the zum Türken was turned into a fantastic place to relax and to revisit history. The officers of Hitler’s security guard lived here and now, the Sharkhunters do also.
Click on this photo and begin your trip back in this fantastic history.
Berchtesgaden is a quaint village, many centuries old, nestled in a quiet valley in the Alps. This is the village at the foot of the Obersalzberg where Martin Bormann built his Reich Sicherheits Zone, or Reich Security Zone. All access to the mountain was controlled by SS security, but the little town was not. It is more or less the same as it was decades ago.
Sharkhunters frequent the Golden Bär Restaurant on the left in this photo, but my favorite is Forstner’s, the white building at the end of this street. It is there I find vanilla ice cream with hot raspberrys and whipped cream. Okay, so I splurge; why not? Now click on this photo and enjoy Berchtesgaden.
2011 Sharkhunters “Bunker Patrol” in the Hotel zum Türken
It is said that a picture is worth a thousand words and we agree. Look at the magnificent view (above) off the balcony – that is Berchtesgaden far below in the valley and we watch as the early morning fog burns off the town a few thousand feet below us.
Hotel zum Türken was just for Sharkhunters
“The best breakfast you will get in Germany!” Many of our Members have said this and we sure agree.
The ‘haus bar’ is the center for our socializing – the same as it was some 70 years ago for the SS officers of the security guard.
The very special circular room……………
Above, we watched the sun come up over the Bavarian Alps as seen from our balcony. Here we see the incredibly breathtaking views as the sun disappears behind these magnificent mountains. You should have been with us to see it for yourself.
Coat of Arms on the Hotel zum Türken
The cemetery is an interesting place to be sure. Here is the grave of Dietrich Eckhart, more or less the founder of the Party; the NSDAP. We also find the grave of Dr. Lammers. He was responsible for all the normal workings on the Obersalzberg of items such as water supply, electric and so forth.
The village itself is another of those scenes that look like a picture post card.
It’s good to be the king……….
RANDOLPH SIPLE (4684-1996) was one of our participants as was his wife Susie. He emailed”
Click on this link http://youtu.be/TIfF5pmc6fU to actually see our time here, thanks to Angela Smith.
……a pleasant break
Welcome to Königsee. Today this is the Schiffmeister Hotel – in the latter part of World War II, this was the headquarters of General Field Marshall Kesselring. This is a beautiful and well preserved area only electric powered boats are allowed on these waters. Well, almost…sometimes a workboat with conventional power is seen zipping across the lake, but for the norm – electric power only.
Many centuries ago, a shift in the land raised the area at the far end of the Königsee, cutting off a smaller portion which became Obersee. A path of about one or so kilometers separates these two beautiful lakes.
Eva Braun liked to come here to exercise in her bathing suit and to smoke cigarettes – both of which were frowned upon by Adolf Hitler. He had a favorite place by a large rock at the far end of the Obersee. We will see it.
Click on this photo and enjoy the Königsee.
The scenery must be seen to be truly appreciated. The camera is great, but until you see it with your own eyes, feel the breeze on your own cheek and smell the freshness in the air yourself – it just isn’t the same.
Being only about 20km (about 12 miles) from Salzburg, we naturally spent a delightful day there.
As we closed out this ‘Patrol‘ we also drove the scenic Roßfeld Straße – the beautiful Rossfeld Road.
Königsee – it means the King’s Lake, and it sure was good to be the king. Let’s visit this beautiful pristine area. At the first area, we wend our way through souvenir shops where goodies of all kind are sold.
We now begin our walk of about one kilometer from the Königsee to Obersee through beautiful scenery every step of the way.
We have seen photos of Adolf Hitler posing by a large rock in the Obersee but back then, the water level was much lower and he didn’t have to get his feet wet. Now, thanks to the increased snow melt, the water is about two feet deeper than some seventy years ago.
Once the group was together again, we hiked back to the boarding dock at the upper tip of Königsee for the voyage back.
This was called the ‘Kehlsteinhaus’ meaning the house built on Kehlstein Mountain. It was built in just 13 months from inception to completion in time for Adolf Hitler’s 50th birthday on 20 April 1939. Contrary to the generally published ‘history’, this was not built with slave laborers at all. To build something of such magnitude and such precision, one would have the best stone cutters, masons, carpenters etc. available. These were recruited with good pay, housing for the duration of the project, food etc.
This photo was shot from the valley below and the Kehlsteinhaus is easily seen from just about any vantage point for twenty or so miles in all directions.
Click on this eerie photo and come with us to this historic place.
This sign states that the Hotel Geiger is closed. Sadly, it is not only closed but falling into total ruin and will most likely be demolished soon. It was Luftwaffe Headquarters for this area.
Click on this prophetic note and go to our photo section covering this tragic situation and other buildings of the Reich.
TUNNELS and BUNKERS! That is the big reason we are here. We visited the tunnels and bunkers that we knew about AND, thanks to ‘Recon RANDOLPH SIPLE (4684-2010)‘ we found one we didn’t know about. Where is this tunnel system? What is in it?
This photo will probably bring you nightmares, but click on it anyway and join us in the history that is seven decades old.
This was called the ‘Kehlsteinhaus’ meaning the house built on Kehlstein Mountain. It was built in just 13 months from inception to completion in time for Adolf Hitler’s 50th birthday on 20 April 1939. Contrary to the generally published ‘history‘, this was not built with slave laborer at all. To build something of such magnitude and such precision, one would have the best stone cutters, masons, carpenters etc. available. These were recruited with good pay, housing for the duration of the project, food etc.
We ride a specially geared bus for the long climb up Kehlstein Mountain. Jump aboard and ride with us.
When the elevator brings us into the clouds, we go into the building itself and the first historic item to catch the eye is the magnificent fireplace (photo above) made of Italian marble – a present from ‘Il Duce‘….Benito Mussolini. It is unchanged from the day it was installed.
CRAIG SMITH (7208-2007) had this to say about his time on this ‘Patrol‘;
There is a memorial further up the path, higher up on the mountain. The air is thin, but come with us as we take the walk.
Bunker Patrol in the Southern Redoubt – Historic Dining.
During this “Patrol” we ate in some really fascinating and historic places. Join us – don’t bother counting calories; the food was great so who cares……..
Angela Smith had this to say about this ‘Patrol‘;
Vorderbrand is important for four reasons;
For our last evening on this ‘Patrol‘ RANDOLPH and Susie bought a lot of locally produced sausage, cheese, bread, butter and wine for an impromptu ‘Farewell Dinner‘ on the terrace of the Hotel zum Türken. We have always said that Sharkhunters is a big family, and it was a great evening, thanks to the Siples…………many thanks!
Gutsof basically means a large farm, and that is what Martin Bormann created on the Obersalzburg. All the food, dairy products, eggs, cheese and anything else for the tables of the leaders oft he Reich here was grown here.
Speer had a beautiful home and here it is today. The view from his home was spectacular!
Experts have estimated that for every item built ABOVE ground by the Third Reich, they built FOUR TIMES as much beneath the ground. Come with us as we travel back in time to some of these places – including one that we had never seen before.
We wish to give our sincere thanks to JEFF CARSON (7728-2007), the ‘Tunnel King‘ for all his information, maps, charts and his help. Now, let’s go exploring!
The Tunnel for the Treasure Train
Luftwaffe Chief Hermann Göring collected art treasures of all kinds and had a massive collection. As the war was in its final moments, he had all these treasures packed into a special train and hid it in a hardened tunnel in Berchtesgaden for his quick escape to Austria. The tunnel is still standing (in use by the Berchtesgaden street maintenance works) but the rails have long since been removed.
Photo above – this is the remains of the plaque that commemorated the building of the tunnel. Naturally the eagle and Swastika have been removed. This plaque is on the side of the tunnel you see in the other two photos and was facing the brown hotel by where the lamp post stands.
Both right photos – As mentioned, the rails are gone but let your mind wander back to 1945…..can’t you see those rail cars in the tunnel? Take a moment – relax your senses; they are there.
The Second Most Popular Book
Almost everyone knows that the most popular book ever written with the most copies sold in the world for all time is the Holy Bible but do you know what is the second most popular; the book with the second most copies ever sold? It is ‘Mein Kampf!‘ written by Adolf Hitler and much of it was written right here on the Obersalzburg…..in what is now referred to as the ‘Kampfhaus‘. This was a very small house, rented by Hitler and he finished his work here. Only the foundation remains, but we are here to walk in the footsteps of history.
Two photos above and one left – this is all that remains of the little house Hitler once rented and where his book ‘Mein Kampf‘ was finished. Sharkhunters are here.
Four photos below – there were two-man bomb shelters all over. The men would duck inside during a bombing raid, wait out the bombs, then emerge to take up their posts again. Almost all have been removed or just blown up from the inside where they stood. This was one that had been blown up on site.
|Above – this is the top of the shelter, blown off.
|Above – this is a large chuck of the shelter.
Both photos below – the yellow arrow
points to more fragments of the shelter.
Random Works built by the Reich
A great deal of infrastructure and buildings were built by the Reich in a short time and contrary to accepted ‘history‘, what we see here was not built by slave labor. These construction works were built by skilled stone cutters, masons, carpenters and other tradesmen who were paid a good wage and given housing during the construction. Without captions, let’s just show some of what we saw.
Below – what a surprise! Two beautiful horses in the middle of nowhere, and ‘recon RANDOLPH‘ had a biscuit in his pocket and gave it to one. He had a friend for life! Well, at least until we got over the next fence. This horse would have followed RANDOLPH home if he could have done so.
the Coal Bunkers
We have visited here before, despite the barbed wire and the sign that says ‘Eingang Verboten‘ which we translate to mean ‘Sharkhunters Welcome Here‘. It is the same as ‘No Pasar‘ in Argentina – right? The Reich, probably Bormann, devised a clever way to supply coal to the homes and buildings on the Obersalzburg. These massive bunkers were built onto the side of a mountain with an access road above and another below. Trucks would come with huge loads of coal and dump them into the bunkers from openings at the top. When coal was needed for a building, a truck would roll into one of the eight bunkers beneath a chute. The chute was opened and the correct amount of coal was poured into the truck which then delivered it to the building that needed it. It was a well devised system. Come with us to these coal bunkers.
We had to walk to the bunkers since someone placed huge boulders at the entrance to the drive. Guess they really didn’t want visitors. Oh well. Note the large pile of rubble shoved in front of the 8th and last bunker. This was to keep people out since there is a door at the back that leads into the tunnel system. Couple years ago, HARRY COOPER (1-LIFE-1983) went over the pile of rubble to get to this door. It was difficult enough getting over the pile, but inside – they had welded the door shut! That just doesn’t seem fair………………
A little way down the path we find this door – an entrance to this tunnel system but it too, is locked. We could feel air currents coming out of the holes in the door, so it is obviously open somewhere else. Susie Siple is having the time of her life.
Note the framework around the doorway. There was once a small house here covering the doorway, meant to fool enemy aircraft into thinking this was just a farmer’s house and not a worthy target.
Air Raid Bunkers
There were air raid bunkers all over the Reich, but some high level people had special tunnel and bunker systems.
|This is the escape door from Hitler’s bunker system.
|Hitler and Eva Braun had rooms inside this door as well as
their library, a room full of phonograph records etc.
|Above & below – the red door is the escape door of Göring’s bunker.
|There was also a small house built here during the war years.
The Road to Italy!
No, this was not a movie with Bob Hope and Bing Crosby. This was going to be a real road. Under Hitler’s highway program, a two-lane highway was to be built from München to Italy, passing through this area.
This was one of the pedestrian walkways built prior to the actual construction of the highway, which would pass overhead. The walkway was completed, the road never was and now the pedestrian walkway stands alone, connected to nothing – almost like a ‘bridge to nowhere‘.
“Going to the Theater”
A theater hall was built for entertainment but in the final winter and under an extremely heavy snowfall, the roof collapsed. With the war going badly for the Reich, there was no effort to rebuild and so there is now nothing remaining but massive blocks – and haunting history.
|Our first view of the ruins
|We are getting closer
When looking at the size and number of these massive support pillars, it is easy to note that this was a huge theater hall. Nothing remains but the stones – and perhaps a ghost or two.
……..and now – TUNNELS & BUNKERS!
Beneath the Hotel zum Türken….
…….we find probably the best preserved bunker system on the mountain; probably anywhere in the world. Although the signs says not to take photos, the hotel is owned by INGRID SCHARFENBERG (3308-A/LIFE-1993), a longtime LIFE Member and a dear friend and she said it was okay, but just for us. Join us – you don’t need lights, shovels or special clothing – it is pure history!
There was no combat here, but shortly after the end of the war,
some jackass fired his bazooka through this wall – for fun!
|Note the round gas lock above the door.
|Close up of the gas lock to prevent gas from coming in.
|Entrance to one of the machine gun nests.
|Susie Siple can feel the history here.
For what it is worth, these photos in the zum Türken bunkers are taken about 200 feet beneath the surface.
the so-called ‘Deep Tunnel‘
This tunnel is built a long way into the Alpine woods – a LONG way from nothing. This was to be Adolf Hitler’s escape through the mountains to safe haven in Austria if the leaders of the Reich had made a last-ditch stand in this place that the Allies called the ‘Southern Redoubt‘. Only Göring was here at the end, and the tunnel was never completed. It runs about half a mile into the mountain, makes a zig to the right and goes on for another quarter of a mile then abruptly ends – the war was over and there was no reason to continue. There are grooves cut into the floor every meter or so for the railroad ties that were to be installed for the small rail cars, but that too was never finished. We even found sticks of dynamite still in their blasting holes in the wall! Once at the far distant end of the tunnel, we turned out all our lights to experience total darkness. It was eerie, but very peaceful.
|The entrance is very difficult to spot unless you know where to look.
|We are Sharkhunters, afraid of nothing – so in we go!
As we get further and further into the tunnel……….
…..the entrance gets smaller and smaller………..
………….and smaller and smaller……….until it is
totally gone! We hope someone left a trail of breadcrumbs!
Left – Mineral deposits leaching into the tunnel. Right – Photo shot when exhaling in the cold air; these are not spirits – or are they?
The NEW Tunnel!
As we walked along a path, RANDOLPH SIPLE (4684-1996), a former U. S. Army reconnaissance officer (Captain), spotted something that didn’t look normal and he called our attention to it. What we found looked like nothing more than a utilities room – until……….
|This is what ‘Recon RANDOLPH‘ spotted in the hillside.
|This is the tiny hole at the top of the debris pile.
|HARRY COOPER (1-LIFE-1983) stuck his arm through hole
with the camera to see what was inside. This is what he saw.
|If you look closely, you see COOPER’s left foot as he
slides through the hole and into history.
Above and below – there were many rooms off the main corridor
that ran back about a mile into the mountain.
This main corridor ran back about a mile into the mountain as seen in the two photos above. Then there was a “T” intersection. To the left, it appeared that the tunnel stopped after about 100 yards. To the right there was a debris pile that blocked passage. There was a small hole at the top and it appeared that COOPER could make it through that hole and continue onward – but he decided not to go further. He was about one mile into the mountain, he was all alone, had only one light and no way to contact those on the surface if anything went wrong – such as if his one and only light had quit. COOPER would probably still be in that tunnel and while some might lament this turn of events, there are others who would certainly rejoice.
He did the smart thing and retraced his steps to the outside world.
|Yep, that’s COOPER coming out that little hole.
|He does look somewhat relieved.