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January 16, 1945: Hitler Enters the Führerbunker

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Shortly after Adolf Hitler came to power, he ordered the construction of the New Reich Chancellery just south of the Brandenburg Gate in East Berlin. The Chancellery was a showpiece of the Third Reich and designed to project a sense of power and grandeur. The project also contained an extensive underground complex with a bunker and bomb shelter. On January 16, 1945, with Allied troops closing in, Hitler descended to the bunker where he would spend the last 105 days of his life before committing suicide in April 1945.

A giant chandelier from the ruins of Hitler’s Chancellery

In 1933, Hitler decided the current Reich Chancellery was too small for the needs of his government. He wanted to enlarge his headquarters. During construction, crews built a cellar that could serve as an air-raid bunker for Hitler. It was called the Vorbunker and featured a reinforced concrete roof over five feet thick. The concrete walls were sturdy enough to support the weight of a newly built reception hall above. The underground complex contained 12 rooms and was completed in 1936.

In 1943, Hitler ordered the Reich Chancellery to expand again. This time, an additional bunker was built one level below the Vorbunker and connected by a stairway. Called the Führerbunker, the complex was located 50 feet below the garden of the old Reich Chancellery and contained its own heating, water, and electricity. Although dimly lit and damp, fine furnishings and art from the Chancellery above adorned the bunker. It was accessible by a red-carpeted hallway and contained luxuries like a wine cellar.

In January 1945, with the Soviet Army approaching and Berlin under bombardment, Hitler moved his headquarters underground. His aides, bodyguards, servants, and his girlfriend Eva Braun joined him in the bunker. Later, propaganda minister Joseph Goebbels and his wife Magda moved into the bunker with their six children.

Fallen Nazi eagle and swastika from the Chancellery

Hitler ran his government from the bunker, strategizing with military leaders as Allies slowly chipped away at his empire. The 3,000 square-foot space was claustrophobic, and the constant airstrikes by British and American bombers brought a sense of doom. On April 19, Russian troops began to encircle the city. During his last Supreme Command conference held in the bunker on April 22, Hitler declared that if Germany fell, he must die in Berlin. On April 29, as Russian troops were fighting street by street and nearing the Chancellery, Hitler and Braun were married in the bunker. The following day, with Russians almost to the gates, both Hitler and Braun committed suicide. Their bodies were brought outside the bunker, placed in a shell hole, and burned. Others living in the bunker also committed suicide. Among them was Magda Goebbels, who poisoned her six children before she and her husband killed themselves. The deaths of Hitler and those in his inner circle signaled a final blow to the Third Reich. Days later, Germany signed an unconditional surrender, and Allied forces declared victory in Europe.

After the war, the Soviets attempted to level the Chancellery buildings and underground complex. Much of the bunker complex remained undisturbed until a reconstruction project in the late 1980s uncovered portions intact. At that time, authorities demolished most of the bunker. Some corridors still exist today but are sealed off from the public.

If you would like to learn more about the final days of WWII or Hitler’s last stand, search Fold3® today.

153 Comments

  1. Donna Gootee says:

    In 1930 when my Mother was born pictures were well on there way to marking things as remembering images, and History. My question is why would no one have marked this day with a picture of the fallen Hitler before burning his body. It sounds like the day we took Asama Bin Laden, his death may 2, 2011, no one had a camera that day either. To bad, it would have been the find of history for those times, what a way of marking this occasion. Kind of what we do with Ancestry, we see the documents, and photos. Maybe going into the future, some one should being caring a camera.

    • Bill says:

      I wonder why cameras and pictures are not used in these situations? Although Heinrich Himmlers dead body was documented. Is there some protocol or reason – or is it just a “respect for death” reason there weren’t or aren’t pictures taken to document things?

  2. Larry Lay says:

    I was a child in the 1940’s and 1950’s and remember a lot of articles written about whether Hitler was actually dead or escaped and made it look like he perished.

  3. G.F. Brown says:

    Many famous, or rather, infamous historical figures, most of whom were immensely wealthy, have seemed to “publicly die” with no real proof of their death. Adolf Hitler, Osama bin Laden, Ken Lay, Jeffery Epstein, to name a few. All supposedly dead, with no real proof of that death.
    Hitler burned beyond recognition and his body sequestered by the Russians for many years. No DNA testing done until years later, and some say, when it was finally done, that it showed the remains were that of a female. Surviving members of Hitler’s relatives have refused to participate in any testing.
    Osama bin Laden, shot multiple times in the face, in the darkness of an unlit room, with no real identification, and his body quickly buried at sea with no possibility of DNA testing.
    Ken Lay died suddenly with only his wife and one ME saying it was him. Again, no DNA testing done and with immediate cremation.
    Jeffery Epstein, dead with no public proof of his death. Just a statement from a public official.

    Each of these people had access to millions upon millions of dollars. Could they have made a very large deposit in an offshore bank account in return for a forged death certificate and an official lie to go with it?

    Without proof it’s only speculation, but could Hitler have escaped Berlin and gone to South America by U-Boat?
    Would America really kill a member of the Saudi Royal family, someone the CIA had recruited, and provided for, to help drive the Russians out of Afghanistan?
    Could Ken Lay, a close friend of the Bush family, be living in luxury somewhere in Europe?
    Is Jeffery Epstein really alive and well, living on a private island in the Caribbean, as some claim and as some drone footage seems to show?

    Again, just speculation, but when it comes to the super rich, I don’t put anything past them.

  4. Tim says:

    Again, without proof, only speculation. Can you provide ONE instance where a famous individual was declared dead and then reappeared alive 10 years later?

  5. Jeremy says:

    Hitler was just another starving German that became upset, like a grumpy baby, at the fact that the Jewish leaders at that time thought his paintings was mediocre, at best, and wrote a “poor me boo hoo” book. He was nothing but a puppet to a growing number of officials realizing the only way to get out of the economic downfall is through war. Plus the fact he was shot up with methamphetamines every single day until his death. He was nothing…a drug addicted nobody that, without the German officials, would of never amounted to anything.

  6. Emily says:

    It is silly to think that hitler would have killed himself when he had power and money enough to escape.

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