A first glimpse into the subterranean world of the Obersalzberg Between 1923 and 1945 the Obersalzberg was transformed from peaceful mountain idyll into Nazi shrine, and finally became the Führer’s “headquarters”. It was there that, for twenty years, Hitler’s cataclysmic schemes matured into decisions and then specific orders. The traumatic impact of those decisions can still be felt throughout the world today. Even as the Third Reich was collapsing in ruins, its leaders prepared to take refuge deep underground. As early as 1943, work had started on a vast system of bunkers, which would enable Hitler to continue his rule from beneath this mountain. More than 3 miles (5 km) of tunnels, galleries and shafts were laboriously hewn from the solid rock, and by the middle of 1944 the Führer’s secret headquarters was operational, and government personnel had moved in. But only a few months later an airborne armada of nearly 400 British bombers launched a massive attack on the Obersalzberg and reduced everything above ground to rubble. Later, Allied occupation troops forced their way into the mysterious depths of the Nazi stronghold and puzzled over the extensive labyrinth of 2-storey corridors. For six decades people could only guess at the actual extent, let alone the purpose of the partially collapsed tunnels. Hard information was lacking, and site-plans turned out to be inaccurate. Through an exhaustive research project involving painstaking detective work, the author succeeded in tracking down, and personally interviewing most of the men behind the Obersalzberg development. For many of them, it was the first time they had broken their silence about being implicated in the fateful Nazi regime. The author examines in detail the subject of air-raid protection in the context of the Obersalzberg’s long history and presents numerous hitherto unpublished photographs and plans. Commissioned by the Bavarian state government to survey all the underground cavities beneath the Obersalzberg, his team used mechanical excavators and modern surveying technology to unearth their history; they opened up blocked entrances and followed suspicious trails. Thanks to this work, the full extent of the bunker complex can now be revealed to the public; light can be brought into the darkness of a mysterious underworld, which for many Germans, even today, is a taboo subject.
Florian M. Beierl was born in Berchtesgaden in 1971 and has been researching the Nazi history of the Obersalzberg for three decades. In the course of his exciting research projects, Beierl has personally interviewed hundreds of eye-witnesses from Germany, Austria, Great Britain and the United States. He has met highranking US military officers, former Nazi operatives from the Obersalzberg, personalities from the inner circle around Adolf Hitler and Eva Braun and recorded their testimonies. Beierl successfully tracked down numerous long-lost documents and pictures in connection with the architectural and political history of the Obersalzberg both in public archives and obscure sites. The resulting collection became his private “Obersalzberg Archive of Contemporary History” in Berchtesgaden. Beierl earned his Master Degree in History at the University of Salzburg, where he also minored in Law. For many years he has worked as a freelance film-maker and author of TV-documentaries on contemporary history.
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