1.Reconstructing Berlin

Statement of Purpose:
I am writing this blog for my own amusement and possibly for the amusement of others. My intention is to show what historic sites can be seen in Berlin today – on foot – starting roughly at the Brandenburg Gate. My field of interest runs from unification (1871) to the fall of the Berlin Wall (1989). My main interest is in the New Reich Chancellery, Speer’s short-lived creation, and in Voss-Strasse itself, hence the title of this blog. There is no political intent, implied or otherwise.
Pretty much everything I write about here can be found on the Internet in greater detail. I aim to supply interesting stuff for those who couldn’t be bothered ploughing through hundreds of websites. If you’re in Berlin and want to know where certain events happened or what happened near where you are staying, hopefully this blog might help.


Rip It Down And Start Again?

I recently watched “Bridge of Spies” and it reminded me that I had promised/threatened to post a travelogue on Berlin while I was there. It’s going to be more of a rant, actually, so if you don’t like it, don’t look at it. Bit like commercial television really.

The question is: how do you rebuild an historic city that has been pretty much completely destroyed in a war? Berlin is a metaphor for all the cities destroyed in all the wars and I only chose it because I’ve been there in the 1970s, 1980s and the 2010s and I like the history . In this blog I propose to write about what I consider to be interesting things and to start with all of the ‘interesting things’ will be within walking distance of the Apartments at Brandenburger Tor car park.

As far as I can see there are three options in rebuilding this city: you clear the rubble and build new, modern structures; you tidy up the surviving buildings and re-use them or you leave them the way they are.

I propose to look at a few examples of what’s remaining of historical interest (to me anyway).

Let’s start with the DDR. If you want to go and see what Berlin was like under the East Germans (from now on I’ll simplify that to DDR to avoid having to distinguish between East Germans and Soviets) you should go now. The inner city is being gentrified at an alarming rate but there are still things to be seen. The DDR did not go out of its way to reconstruct Berlin after the war – they largely concerned themselves with tearing up (or down) old Nazi sites, the Reich Chancellery and a selection of cemeteries for example. This means that large sections of the city remained untouched for decades. For example, in the 1970s I did a bus tour into East Berlin (across the Berlin Wall). The young East German woman who provided the commentary on the bus waxed lyrical about how the government was going to build wondrous new sports complexes and government buildings and so on but outside all we could see were vast tracts of fenced off land that had literally not been touched since 1945. There were of course the odd Communist Party buildings which were a bit tarted up but in general the whole place gave an impression of being depressed and depressing. At the end of the tour, the young host had to disembark on the Eastern side and Russian and East German guards – armed with automatic weapons – came on the bus and began checking IDs. They then ran dogs under the bus to check that no desperate, disenchanted East German had decided to do a Cape Fear and defect by hanging on under the bus. When we got through Checkpoint Charlie, the bus driver told us – wryly – that the young host had had to learn her entire 90 minute spiel off by heart to get the tour guide job and that the Bad Guys were in the habit of slipping a fake ‘tourist’ on the bus to check that she wasn’t editorialising. Apparently, she was allowed to see members of her family briefly when she got on the bus in the West.


Here’s an example of the changing of the political guard in Berlin.


The above photo was taken in Behrenstrasse – which runs off Wilhelmstrasse – in 2010. I took the one below almost exactly five years later. Now this large (un)polished image of Lenin was still on this building  – and only a few hundred metres from the Brandenburg Gate – twenty-one years after the Wall came down. Check the dates on the photographs.


As late as 2011, you could still find Cyrillic lettering in the foyers of some apartment blocks in central Berlin.

Because the Communists did not do a great deal of rebuilding you can still find old buildings from before the Second World War but you will need to hurry – because the Wall has come down a lot of these places are disappearing. A case in point is the corner of Wilhelmstrasse and Voss-Strasse.  This corner originally (i.e. pre-war) was the site of the Reichs-verkehrsministerium (Reich Traffic Ministry). It can be seen in its heyday in the centre of this photo (red arrow), the Finance ministry is to the left of the photo (blue arrow), the Air Ministry (still standing in pretty much its original form) (orange arrow) can be seen further down the street and the Borsig Palais (green arrow) to the right:


Here’s a comparison with the above photo taken in 2015:

Verkehr 3

Here’s what it looked like in 2010. The buildings on the left hand side of Voss-Strasse (the street the red Mini drives down) had been there since the war (1945). You could still see battle damage on pretty much all of them.

Verkehrersministerium.jpg 2





Here’s what it looks like now:


These changes took place in only five years. See what I mean about getting there quickly if you want to see original stuff?

Interestingly, if you look at the very first photo I have posted – the one with the two women with cake tins on their heads in front of the U Bahn entrance – you will see a large building directly behind the entrance. That building -the Ritterschaftsdirektion -(and the U Bahn station itself, but not that entrance) still survives and can be seen on the Wilhelmplatz today. More detail on that building when I get around to the Wilhelmplatz.

So here’s the plan. I intend to post a series of …ummm … posts on touring Berlin with an interest in the history of the place. To start with I am going to suggest places of interest within walking distance of the car park behind the Apartments am Brandenburger Tor. The Apartments am Brandenburger Tor run along Wilhemstrasse from the Adlon Hotel and up Voss-Strasse in a vague U shape. They also wander around various other blocks. Suffice it to say that that whole block bounded by  Peter-Behrens-Strasse , Wilhelmstrasse, Voss-Strasse and Friedrich-Ebert-Strasse constituted the lion’s share of the Regierungsviertel, or Government Quarter from Bismarck’s time to 1945. The current Holocaust Memorial, the car park, the apartments and sundry other structures pretty much made up the Ministry Gardens.

For some reason some of my posts are appearing in random order therefore I intend to number them so anyone bored enough to be reading this can read them in order. A complete list of the posts so far can be found here: https://wordpress.com/posts/vossstrasse.com although I have no idea why posts 4 and 5 are in the wrong order.


30. Ministry of Aviation/Leipzigerstrasse

So you’ve come back down Voss-Strasse with the site of the former NRK on your left and have reached Wilhelmstrasse again (red circle). Turn right (in the direction of Tempelhof, i.e. south). This is our planned route: the short red line is Wilhelmstrasse and the longer red line takes us back past Mohrenstrasse U Bahn station and through Zietenplatz to Glinkastrasse. It gets tricky here: for some unDeutsch reason Mauerstrasse turns into Glinkastrasse and then turns back into Mauerstrasse. Anyway, walk down Glinkastrasse until you reach the intersection (blue cirlce)with Leipzigerstrasse (up which we are going to walk to Potsdamerplatz):

moals 1

Leipzigerstrasse runs for yonks in an easterly direction but we are interested in walking west towards Potsdamerplatz so you should come to this corner:


Feel free to venture into the building on the right to discover the wild side of Berlin but 74 years ago it would have discovered you in this very place. Cross the road and you’ll see what I mean. The building with the bloke on top holding up (yet another) globe is the former Reichspostamt:


and I’m including this following shot simply because I think it’s a wonderful watercolour:

cnr mauerstrasse

You notice in today’s iteration of the building, the two towers flanking Globeboy have disappeared, almost certainly because of battle damage and there is still evidence of it to be seen on the Mauerstrasse side:





What an eloquent and desperate story these spang marks could tell. Leipzigerstrasse was one of the few major streets still in German hands when the capitulation occurred. It was the staging area for a number of armoured vehicles during the battle so these spang marks must show the limit of Soviet penetration when they were made. Now the building is a Communications Museum, a Mecca for phone enthusiasts i.e. pretty much everybody these days as far as I can see…

Hmmm… just an aside: if you are like me and find all these references to north, south, east and west confusing, here is a little map of this area to help you out:

lzs map 2

You are currently where the green circle is on the map above. Now if you walk back up Leipzigerstrasse  – which is to say in a westerly direction – you will eventually come to a corner (just before the blue arrow) across which you will see this building:

bundesarchiv_bild_146-1979-074-36a,_berlin,_reichsluftfahrtministerium (1)

This is the former Ministry of Aviation, built from February 1935 to August 1936, at the time the largest office block in Europe. Runs an entire block along Wilhelmstrasse. It was comparatively undamaged in WW2 and what you see is pretty much what you would’ve seen back in the day minus some embellishments such as swastikas and bas reliefs of marching soldiers. It is a biggie:

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You can make out the Topography of Terror exhibition in Niederkirchnerstrasse (formerly Prinz-Albrecht-Strasse, yes, home of the Gestapo HQ back in the day) at the extreme left and Leipzigerstrasse at extreme right. Incidentally, the current Topography of Terror exhibition (highly recommended) has some of the former cellar/cells on display under what appears to be solar panels in the previous photo (extreme left). It was in those very cellars that Henri Joseph Fenet


and his men were holed up when the order came to surrender in May, 1945. If you go back to the first photo in this post, you will see that the French SS – the only ones in Wilhelmstrasse between the Soviets and Hitler when they surrendered – were only two city blocks from the NRK.




29. Ceremony in the Garden

There can’t be many of those interested in this period of history and the battle in this city who haven’t seen the “last footage” – as far as is currently known – of Hitler greeting some Hitler Youth in the Ministry Gardens just outside his office. The footage (with translation) can be found here:


although the author of this text feels the need for a little editorialising: “Willi Hübner was compelled to tell his story for the cameras“.

“Compelled”? As far as I can see the little bugger looks dead chuffed. The rest of the text gives a little of Willi’s later biography. You can find some info on the kid standing next to him here:


and you might note Artur Axmann, the HJ leader, saluting with his left arm as he had lost his right arm on the Eastern Front.

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These next two photos show Willi Hubner being decorated in Lauben where he earned his Iron Cross Second Class, first by Dr Goebbels and then by General Schorner(?).



Willi Hubner was 16 at this time even though he looks 12, which was the age of Alfred Czech, the kid standing next to him in the following photos from the NRK terrace:

Hitler arrives. Note the greenhouse and a corner of the ornamental pool on the right. This will become important when we try to establish where on our barren ground this event took place.

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Hitler greets Alfred Czech:

17973475_10155357410223689_7642822119876454573_o WW11 Pictures

… and Willi Hubner:

17966753_10155357409673689_6516410251305185044_o WW11 Pictures

… all carefully recorded by the cameraman (rear):

2015-04-18 07.44.36

So where did it happen? Can you see the spot today? Answer: I don’t know but I believe you could still in 2017. I am typing this in Sydney, Australia, one year (2018) after I took the photos of Voss-Strasse in the previous post so I don’t know if it’s been built upon yet. But it will be. But let’s assume you can still access the site.

Here’s a photo I pinched from Axis History Forum. Ignore the Villa Kempka caption – that was from the original poster whose name I forget but whom I thank. Where was I going with this? Oh yes, the redline. You will see that the ruined Propaganda Ministry building points pretty much to the spot on the terrace outside Hitler’s office and the blue circle shows the corner of the ornamental pool we saw above:

Aerial 3

If you look at the next photo from Google Earth you will see a green line.

Hj awards 1

That is the orientation of the former Propaganda Ministry wing (today a school), as above. It points to An der Kolonnade ( a street which didn’t exist pre-war and is marked in blue). If you cross the street to where the red line is, the first part of An der Kolonnade points pretty much to the back of the Chancellery, roughly outside Hitler’s office where the award ceremony took place. What makes me think this? Have a look at this second photo which I found on Pinterest and you will see an overlay of the Chancellery and the current buildings. You should see that the line of An der Kolonnade points to the area in question, I believe:

HJ a 2

Now look back to the previous photo (the Google Earth one) and you’ll see that the red cross indicates some barren ground to the right of this white building:

Dead SS Google 1

… and that would be this barren ground, keeping the white building as a reference point:


Now you might recall from Post 18. The West Wing that the white building pretty much marks the end of the west wing of the NRK so we need to go about halfway down the Mittelbau (and remembering that the red cross will be in line with the middle of the Mittelbau, i.e. Hitler’s office) we find this patch of bare ground:


Moving from the footpath of Voss-Strasse towards where the red cross should be (and you’ll need the Google Earth photo above with you to work out how far to walk) you’ll come to this spot and that, I believe , is where the HJ award ceremony occurred seventy-three years ago:


As close as I could get due to the bloody fence but I believe the ceremony took place just on the other side of the fence:


Nothing beside remains. Round the decay
Of that colossal Wreck, boundless and bare
The lone and level sands stretch far away.”

28. So What’s Left There Now?

Short answer: not much. As I have indicated before, the surviving unbuilt-upon area is shrinking. I first photographed the area (i.e. Voss-Strasse) in 2010, at least when I was walking on it. I had photographed it earlier, for the first time I think in c. 1978/9 when we were obliged to look over the Berlin Wall courtesy of a viewing platform, access to which the poor buggers on the eastern side were denied (unless you were a bigwig with lots of medals and/or money). Here JFK looks over the Wall (he would be dead almost exactly five months later).

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There were viewing platforms at various places all along the western side of the Wall. If you stood on top of the one at the Brandenburg Gate and looked to your right you would see this:

Berlin, Potsdamer Platz, Ehemaliger Mauerstreifen

OK, the photo was taken in 1991. So sue me. But it is the same area that was presented to us tourists back in the 1970s. The NRK is completely gone and if you draw a line directly down from the Alexanderplatz Tower (middle centre) you’ll see a small hill. The guides told us that was where Hitler’s bunker was. I suspect that they were only regurgitating either Party instructions or local lore but they were wrong. Anyway, that rubbish road on the middle-right is Voss-Strasse and you can make out the branch of the Transport Ministry still standing as it does to this very day at further mid-right. And here’s how you might see it if you were Doctor Who:

Bundesarchiv 2

The tour guides were wrong – or were being deliberately deceptive, for the same reason that the red marble in the Mohnrenstrasse U Bahn statio came from Thuringia (if you get what I mean…)

Consider this:

Red line 1

Not very clear but the red line in the photo on the left shows the placement of the “hump”, i.e. Hitler’s bunker, and the distance to Voss-Strasse. The red circle in this Google Earth photo shows the same placement and distance.

Hump 2

However, we now know – or believe (and I trust those more knowledgeable than I am) – that the bodies of Mr and Mrs Hitler were burned on the corner of Gertud-Kolmar-Strasse and In den Ministergarten (white circle). So the ‘hump’ that the guides told us was the position of the bunker was in fact in front of the wrong block of flats and was way too far to the right. So the tour guide chappies were ill-informed. Or the bastards lied.

We now know where everything stood on Voss-Strasse. But what can you still find?

Answer: apart from the Ministry of Transport building on the southern side, nothing. The following photos – some of which were posted in miniature before – show the accessible, bare ground on which you could walk in 2011. Most of this ground was previously occupied by the NRK and is, as I’ve pointed out before, rapidly being built upon. This aerial shot shows the general area (red rectangle) where the following bare patches stood/stand:

Ruin map

So, as Percy Bysshe Shelley once said – how come no-one’s called ‘Bysshe’ anymore? –

“My name is Ozymandias, King of Kings;
Look on my Works, ye Mighty, and despair!”



OK, so who can guess on which piece of currently (as of 2011) barren ground this much-published event took place?


Answer in the next gripping instalment!


27. There Passed a Weary Time …

Between 1947 and 1949, the destruction of the NRK began in earnest. Here the Soviets and their running dog minions of the DDR have demolished the West Wing:

destruction 3 AHF

The Mittelbau follows:


… although to be fair, I think the previous two photos were taken at roughly the same time. Next is the destruction of the Mittelbau: the following photo shows (on the right) that Hitler’s study, its columns and the terrace have already been demolished. The remaining structure in the photo on the right is the last element of the Mittelbau – compare the square windows with the windows at the far left of the photo on the left.

ruins 2

And obviously the Ehrenhof had to go. What a pity from an historical perspective although it does improve our view of our old friend the Ritterschaftsdirektion:

ehrenhof reste AHF

And through it all, like a little brother watching his big brother get spanked, sits the lonely Ministry of Transport building (notice the emergency exit block still lies on its side):


Bunker Bunker der Neuen Reichskanzlei

In 1987, photographer Robert Conrad got inside the NRK as it was being demolished and a secretly took a great series of photos. These are – if you’re into this stuff like I am – sensational:


Equally exciting, IMO, was the discovery in 1990 of the Fahrerbunker (Drivers’ Bunker). This bunker – for the drivers of Hitler’s fleet of vehicles (well, derrr…) – lay undiscovered until 1990 when it was uncovered during clearance operations for the Pink Floyd concert “The Wall” which was to be held after the Berlin Wall came down. Who knew Prog Rock bands could be good for something? Apparently there was worldwide shaking of heads, waggling of fingers and groans of anguish when it was discovered that the Nazis had drawn on the walls of their bunker, if you believe  some sources. Here are some examples of the cause of this hand-wringing:

Fahrerbunker Sink AHF

Fahrerbunker toilets AHF

fahrerbunker wall painting 2 AHF

fahrerbunker wall painting AHF

That dunny looks to me to be very much like the one in “Trainspotters”. And that last photo indicates a function of the Leibstandarte SS Adolf Hitler of which I was previously unaware: they were to offer heroic protection to any blokes who felt like enjoying a quiet ale or two.

Anyway, AFAIK, the garage was sealed up again so that the Free World would not be morally corrupted by murals.

An excellent article on the Fahrerbunker can be found at the Britlink site here:


More on this as it comes to light.

26. Sic transit Gloria Mundi

Allegedly the last photos ever taken of Hitler – and for my money you can forget the ‘allegedly’. Hitler looking at the ruins of the NRK with his adjutant Julius Schaub:

hitler-chief-gruppenfuhrer-schaub-inspect-damage-fuehrerbunker (1)Notice the damaged sconce on the wall behind them (below). That would fetch a pretty penny on the collector’s market (but don’t forget my advice about collecting this stuff). I would have expected a genuine NRK sconce to have reached more than $6 000 even if it were auctioned in 2011 (scroll about half way down):


Schaub (below) trying to get Hitler to look on the bright side:

hitler-chief-gruppenfuhrer-schaub-inspect-damage-fuehrerbunker-last-imagesDuring the battle for Berlin the NRK was badly damaged (unlike the Air Ministry a little further down Wilhelmstrasse) although I have been unable to find any evidence of actual fighting inside the building despite such claims from some Soviet sources. German sources suggest that those who could leave pretty much did – or they shot themselves. The building was soon stripped of what was lootable and then fell into decay. As noted before, the marble from the Mosaic Hall was used to clad the Soviet memorial in Treptower Park and, IMO without doubt, Mohrenstrasse U Bahn  station which at the time was renamed Thalmannplatz after the pre-war leader of the KPD. (It was re-named -again- in 1968 as Otto-Grotewohl-Strasse after the first German prime minister of the DDR). In 1949, the building was demolished using a narrow-track railway to remove rubble.

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Here’s a view of the terrace outside Hitler’s office, looking west from the rear of the Reception Hall of the Old Chancellery. The Bunker entrance would be to the photographer’s right. At a guess I would suggest 1946. Notice the bronze horses are already gone:

Ruin 1

In this photo, the photographer in the previous photo was standing inside the round structure to the right through whose shattered windows you can make out the covered walkway which ran some 150 metres plus alongside the Dining Room.

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Some shots inside the Old Chancellery Reception Hall. In the first there are three pillars still standing at the far side:

destroyed reception hall above vorbunker after war AHF

reception hall destroyed 3 AHF

One pillar left:

Reception Hall Destroyed above vorbunker AHF

Ruins 3

The winter of 1945 was particularly severe and trees in the Tiergarten were cut down for firewood. In the Spring vegetable gardens sprang up wherever there was spare ground, including the grounds of the former Ministry Gardens. This first photo shows Trummerfrauen working in the Ministry Gardens close to the wall which separated the SS barracks from the gardens. Notice the far end of the covered walkway appears to be already demolished:

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This following photo may prove contentious. Traudl Junge in her memoir “Until the Final Hour” mentions at one point that some part of the roof of the Fuhrerbunker protruded above the ground . This caused no end of a kerfuffle at Axis History Forum as it was news to a number of otherwise educated-better-than-average-about-the-NRK anoraks, including Your Humble Narrator. Some of the more argumentative types frankly refused to believe it, presuming that Traudl had confused it with Adolf’s skateboard ramp or somesuch. However, Traudl proved to be correct. Fancy that!

Ausflug/Schülerinnen v.Reichskanzlei
Pädagogik: Schulausflug.-Gruppenbild: Schülerinnen vor der kriegszerstörten Reichskanzlei in Berlin.-Foto, 1948.

… and here’s more evidence (the blown up bunker exit and tower in the background). Who would’ve thought that someone who was there would get it right?

reste 1952

Incidentally, consider this photo from the car park in Gertrude-Kolmar-Strasse:

pyre 2

If you’re standing where the blokes with the bikes are (i.e. slightly centre-left), informed opinion has it that you are standing in front of the concrete emergency exit seen toppled in the photos above. The funeral pyre of Adolf and Eva Hitler was roughly where the red circle is. Feel free to believe tour guides, information boards and Sandra Sully to the contrary if you like but those I trust (including Rochus Misch) put the site where the red circle is. Give or take a metre. I will give a link later to confound those who want to argue the toss (henceforth ‘tossers’).

…and here’s three Australian blokes with a faulty compass looking for Lasseter’s Reef:

Demolition bunker 1959 AHF

This photo following was obviously taken before the previous two black and white photos. These two Trummerfrauen are lost in thought while sitting on the edge of the pool between Hitler’s office and the greenhouse. In the background can be seen the Reception Hall of the ORK and the tower and bunker exit seen toppled in the previous photo.


The women below are tending one of the previously-mentioned vegetable gardens. In the background is the SS wall with the SS barracks – or the remains thereof – behind.


Moving right along …



25. Another warning …

Who has never collected anything? What joy to find the last piece in your amazing collection of stuffed squirrels! The piece that will make your fellow stuffed-squirrel collectors green with envy!

squirrel 2

Yes, collecting is a wonderful if expensive pastime as long as your wife doesn’t find out, particularly if you like collecting Third Reich stuff. Here’s how to avoid spending – and probably losing – a vast deal of money in collecting Nazi stuff, specifically New Reich Chancellery stuff.

Don’t do it.

Well that was pretty easy but a further word for the desperate, addicted relic-collector: I started collecting at around the age of 14 or 15 years. In a moment of uncharacteristic intelligence, I decided to collect belt buckles because they are very difficult to fake. Unlike paper documents or cloth uniform collectibles, the financial investment required to create accurate, fool-an-expert dies would deter most fakers. Also, if you’re going to spend a tidy sum developing the process, you’re going to have to do a big run of buckles to make a profit and as soon as large numbers of any given buckle or maker hits the market, values go down simply because the buckle is so common. So fakers would consider buckles way down the list of profitable fakery. Or so I thought. Turns out that theses days there are a number of factories churning out pretty much everything Third Reich related, including belt buckles. Don’t take my word for it (and these are pretty good, IMO):


Which brings me to the point. Have a gander at this:


Reverse of the cloakroom chits:

Gaderobe Chits - reverse

A collector of NRK desiderata would respond to the above like Alex responds to Beethoven in ‘A Clockwork Orange’: “Oh bliss! Bliss and heaven! Oh, (they are) gorgeousness and gorgeousity made flesh.”

Sad, isn’t it?

However, the items shown above are real and genuine and come to us courtesy of Axis History Forum. Imagine if you owned an entry token into the Fuhrer-Garage on Hermann-Goring-Strasse! Or a cloakroom token or two with swastikas and numbers on them! Your mates would have to go back to squirrel-collecting. But how would you know if they were real? Short answer: you wouldn’t. You’d have even more trouble with these:



Amazingly, some genuine NRK stuff has survived:


Above we see a NRK menu, small plate, piece of NRK marble, a place setting (or perhaps a tablecloth?) and a Wellner teapot and some cutlery. On page 119 of Cowdery’s book he mentions that large amounts of this stuff have been faked. You will find similar problems with the provenance of all Third Reich collectibles, particularly those from Hitler’s Berghof at the Obersalzberg, Berchtesgaden. Sadly, there is probably a lot of stuff still in the hands of Russian families whose grandfathers etc fought in the battle. It’s unlikely that those who have genuine relics will achieve their true value should they decide to sell due to the proliferation of fakes.

However, here’s a souvenir that would make a great picnic table in someone’s backyard:

Stone souvenir

… and here’s a close-up of the sign:

Souvenir stone sign

Sadly, this foundation stone is no longer in situ at the previously-mentioned boardwalk. As of 2017, this stone and the boardwalk itself have disappeared. Pity.

I just found this on Facebook today (02.12.18):


This is an enlisted man’s Waffen SS belt buckle. The seller wants £390 for it, which is 25 cents off $680(Aus) at today’s conversion. I bought my first one in 1964/5 for $5(Aus). If you’re thinking of entering the market, you’ve missed the boat

So once again, if you are thinking of starting a collection of NSDAP relics, particularly if a bloke down the pub has a genuine SS dagger that his father found in the ruins of the NRK, my advice is still…


Let’s get back to the tour …

24. Another Desk …

Published photos of “Hitler’s desk” are often if not usually the work of ignorant or lazy authors. Here’s how to impress all of your friends who are interested in Hitler’s NRK desks. First, let’s have another dekko at his study/office. Take note of the eagle above his door on the right (and the direction in which it is pointing) and the wall sconces as they will get a guernsey in this blog eventually:

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So on any of the apparently rare-ish occasions that Adolf may have been sitting at the desk above, had he looked through the French windows to his left, he would’ve seen the terrace (the one with the Russian officers standing on it in the previous ‘globes’ post), the bronze horses, an ornamental pool and across the grounds the greenhouse which was used for, inter alia, growing flowers for the NRK. The skeleton of its roof can be seen in the previous ‘globes’ post behind the two boys sitting on the remains of some globes:

Garten RK AHF

Source: AHF

The door to his right with the eagle above it led to the Mosiac Hall. And also take note of that lump on the left-hand side? That’s Hitler’s map desk. It has a solid marble top. Don’t take my word for it:

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… and here it is again. Through the French window you can make out the Greenhouse/Orangerie/Gewachtshaus:


As the Russkies closed in on the NRK this sumptuous map table was pushed over against the French window as a sort of barricade to provide protection from small arms fire. Now I don’t know about you but if I were dictator of Germany and I had to push over my beautiful map table to keep out some interlopers whom I had obviously offended, I’d be thinking the jig was pretty much up. You’ve got somewhere just shy of 3,000,000 Russian (and Polish) soldiers attacking  and you’ll planning on holding them off with a few machine guns from behind a map table?

So what’s the point of this map table? The point is that this table is often presented as Hitler’s working table. Notice that unlike the real Hitler working table – not that he did much work at it from all accounts – it has five sturdy legs. Compare these  photos of it after it has fallen on hard times:

0_7f6cd_2ae90583_orig AHF0_7f6ce_c0596d0c_orig AHF0_10a75_992e565a_orig AHF0_19e57_75746576_orig AHF0_b2546_6292e52a_orig AHF1

You’ll notice that the table has been broken in half in the photo with the nonchalant bloke enjoying a leisurely durry. Notice also all of the cheery – and why not? – Allied soldiers, both Russian and British, grinning like bezoomny while they savour victory over the Arch-Beast. I wonder how cheerful they would have been had they had access to a Tardis and had the chance to read the next post?

23. A Word of Warning …

Don’t believe all you read about this subject, i.e. the New Reich Chancellery. For example, if you go to the Zeughaus German History Museum on Unter den Linden (which is highly recommended) you will see this globe:


… complete with vengeful Russian bullet hole through Germany:


However, all is not as it seems. This globe is probably not the one from Hitler’s study:

The fact of the matter is that there were several of these globes and many were destroyed after the battle so correctly identifying which one went where is nowadays so far impossible. Here are some – surely not posed – Soviet photos:




Globe 8

but consider these photos, all taken in the vicinity of the NRK. The Russian officers in the first one are standing outside the French windows to Hitler’s office:

Четыре советских офицера на ступенях имперской канцелярии. AHF

As a matter of interest, they are standing on a landing outside Hitler’s office on which the bronze horses – previously mentioned – were also standing.


If they were to walk to our left a metre or two, they would be standing above where Hitler had decorated the HJ boys a few days earlier:

Adolf Hitler and Hitlerjugend fuhrerbunker last appearance camera

In the next post, I’ll demonstrate where that HJ ceremony happened in terms of today’s geography but for the moment, back to the globes. Here’s a couple:

Bunker roof 2

That blue arrow indicates the greenhouse which stood facing Hitler’s office (an ornamental pond stood between the greenhouse and the landing with the two bronze horses) so we know these two globes are in the immediate vicinity of Hitler’s office. There was a globe of this sort in Hitler’s office and another in the Reich Cabinet Room. In the photos of Russians above, photos 3 and 4 show the globe in the Reich Cabinet Room. The following photos – unless they are of the same destroyed globe (and I think the first two are) – would seem to suggest that Adolf must have had a Valued Customer Account at Globes R Us:

0_36697_b9f166c_orig AHF

Globe 3

Globe 4

The safest that can be said of any surviving globes is that each is ‘one of‘ Hitler’s globes.

More on the globes here:


but be aware that not all of the correspondents know what they’re talking about. Even those who were ‘there’ are sometimes mistaken, for example the Australian Neal Carter describes Hitler’s office as being ‘twenty foot square’ (it was 20 metres by 14.5) and describes two glass chandeliers (there were none in Hitler’s office). To be fair, he did say they were told they were in Hitler’s office but even if they were in the Great Reception Hall we still have the problem of “twenty foot square” …

And here’s another trap for the unwary. This desk is in the same Zeughaus Museum:


and is described as “Hitler’s desk”. However, notice that the front is placed against the wall. I wonder why? Could it be to hide the distinctive inlay work of which Hitler was so proud? This inlay is described in Albert Speer’s “Inside the Third Reich” (page 172 in my Australian 1971 edition) and he quotes Hitler as saying “Good, good … when the diplomats sitting in front of me at this desk see that, they’ll learn to shiver and shake”. This is a reference to the middle section which Hitler saw as depicting a sword being unsheathed although how he could tell it was being unsheathed and not sheathed has got me buggered. Here’s a comparison of Hitler’s (real) desk in the NRK and the one in the DHM:

desk comparison 1

Looks pretty good, eh? However, unless we can see the front we can’t be sure. I’m almost certain that the one in the DHM  is not the one from Hitler’s office in the NRK. Apparently when things got sticky all the good stuff – carpets, desks etc – were packed off to Munich (or more likely Berchtesgaden) for safekeeping:


Here’s the front view -courtesy of Pinterest – of the desk with the sword motif in the middle:


…and here it is in situ in colour:

976e90866b35355b6d2ac7e1680cf95f Pin

Source: Pinterest

But consider this:

"Neue Reichskanzlei Berlin - Arbeitsplatz des Führers" (Architekt: Albert Speer)


Plain desk

Notice anything? The last two photos have no inlay work on the front. We know that the inlay version was in place when the NRK was opened so why was it moved? It would probably not have been moved to storage when these photos were taken because the tapestry would have gone too. The desk in the last two photos appears – like the globes – to be a generic thing as there are a number of photos of such desks. Here’s one, probably at the Bischofswiesen Reich Chancellery outside Berchtesgaden or in the Berghof:

3DD74DB700000578-4270820-image-a-92_1488381820969 not in Berlin

So the moral of the story is don’t believe everything you’re told and don’t lay out a lazy 5 mill or so on a genuine Hitler desk.

22. Two Televisions got Married …

… the wedding wasn’t much but the reception was great. Speaking of Great Receptions, if you follow the blue line:

So far 2

… and turn right, you’ll end up in the Cabinet Room which – let’s face it – under a Nazi dictatorship got as much use as Vin Diesel’s comb. However, if you continue straight ahead you’ll find yourself in the Grosser Empfangssaal, or Great Reception Hall. Who can guess what this was used for? (BTW, much of the West Wing was composed of offices and a canteen for staff. Christoph Neubauer does it much better in his series of DVDS. Buy them if you’re – like me – anorakly interested). Once again, IMO Speer did a great job:


…and from the other end:


Those chandeliers were made by the Viennese firm of Lobmeyr. They’re still going:


The chandeliers were four metres tall and were made of cut glass.

Neue Reichskanzlei, Kronleuchter, Foto

The floor was parquetry and was covered by an enormous (check out the photos) hand-knotted carpet. Most of the photos of glamorous balls, receptions etc you see were photographed here. The glamorous woman often seen at these official functions was Inge Ley and by all contemporary accounts she was stunningly beautiful:


There were of course others at these functions:

2015-08-18 08.28.04

Sic transit Gloria Mundi:




Reichskanzlei/Kronleuchter/Foto 1948

Source: all photos of ruined chandeliers are from AHF


21. Inside the NRK

You’ve walked around the corner with the Peking Ente on your left and after a few metres you’ll come to where I believe the entrance to the Ehrenhof was (give or take a metre or two):

Ehrenhof entrance

Back in the day, inside would have looked like this:

Best Ehrenhof 1

The two statues flanking the doorway are by Arno Breker who was heavily into this heroic stuff. The one on the left was called “Die Partei” and the one on the right “Die Wehrmacht” (by Hitler, Breker had other names for them). There’s a copy of “Die Wehrmacht” in the (highly recommended) Zeughaus museum on Unter den Linden. If you want a laugh or just like the sound of grinding teeth, go up to one of the museum attendants, point at the statue and say “Oh wow! That’s great! Is it the original?”. They love it!


Of interest is the news that in 2015, ‘authorities’ discovered a collection or two of Nazi artworks, the Entartete Kunst of today. Allegedly they discovered the original of the Wehrmacht statue above on an estate in Kiel:


Ermittlungsverfahren Nazi Kunst

They also claim to have discovered the original two bronze horses from outside Hitler’s office but I’ll deal with that later. I have my doubts. How did these large statues survive? The Russians capture the NRK and send eagles, banners and what-have-you to the Red Army museum in Moscow but somehow miss these statues? Even if they did, who transported them to their hideout? I cannot imagine the Russians agreeing to Steptoe and Son bowling up with Hercules the horse to cart away large lumps of statuary. I will be the first to admit I’m wrong when somebody explains the provenance of these things …


More on Arno Breker here: https://www.thedailybeast.com/how-arno-breker-became-hitlers-favorite-sculptor

Back to more pressing issues.

So you’re in the Ehrenhof. Turn around in 1936 or so and you would have seen this:


Remembering that – were those doors open – you could see our old friend the Ritterschaftsdirektion. Don’t believe me?

Ehrenhof 2

OK, this is the quick tour. There are zillions of photos on the Internet of the NRK – try Pinterest, for example. We are going to give the Vorhalle (reception area) the flick and mosey on straight into the Mosaiksaal, or Mosaic Hall in English. This would’ve been some sight: 46 metres long by 20 wide by 16 high(!) and the whole thing done in marble and mosaic.


There were nine of those mosaic panels with each holding a fine mosaic of two eagles. I have read that one of these panels has survived and is in the Zeughaus on Unter den Linden but I have yet to see it.


These things were eight and a half metres tall and two and a half wide but I can only find one photo of someone actually standing beside one – it’s Ullstein 00042099, as seen in Ronald Pawly’s book. To give you some idea of how big these buggers were I’ve invited the Beatles to stand in for the Nazis even though they only got lousy MBEs instead of a Blood Order:

Beatles Mosaic

This also gives some idea:

0_22703_7f2ce090_orig AHF

The Mosaic Hall was the setting for the major Nazi funerals, specifically those of Reinhard Heydrich, Hans-Valentin Hube and Fritz Todt among others. Here’s Heydrich’s funeral:

Heydrich funeral

Source on photo.

…and here’s Hans-Valentin Hube’s (Hube was a  general who had been awarded the Knight’s Cross with Swords and Diamonds – the highest award you could get in the Third Reich if you don’t count Goring’s stupid decorations – on Hitler’s birthday, 1944, and who was killed in a plane crash the next day in Salzburg).

Trauerfeier für Generaloberst Hans Hube

Source on photo

Both Heydrich and Hube – and Fritz Todt for that matter – were buried in the Invaliden Friedhof which will will get to eventually:


So this is where you have arrived, having entered from Wilhelmstrasse:

Progress 1

From the Mosaic Hall you enter the Runder Saal (that’s the round room at which the arrow is pointing): it was circular to reorient the visitor’s direction from the bizarre bend in Voss-Strasse caused by the Borsig Palace. Here it is in its heyday:

RS 4

Best Runde Saal 1

and in 1945:

Rs 3

A walk through the doorway shown in the three photos above leads us on into the Marble Gallery … and here it is:


This room/hallway was 146 metres long, i.e. almost 30 metres longer than the longest of official soccer fields, and 12 metres wide. The floor is of highly polished Saalburg marble and the doorways are of a deeper marble which (from memory) was called Deutschrot. On the left (Voss-Strasse) side are 19 windows, each 6 metres high and set back a little over two metres from the Marmorgalerie (may as well improve your German while you’re here):


On the right are five doorways , the middle one is Hitler’s. Believe it or not there is a huge pile of crap on the Internet, particularly in regards to subjects like this. You will see the far door (at the end of the Marmorgalerie) described as Hitler’s office. Feel free to feel a superior indignation as I do at such tomfoolery. Feel free also to point out to your friends -although if you’re reading this it’s unlikely you have any – that the middle doorway is Hitler’s “as any fule kno” (Source: Nigel Molesworth). It must have been quite a sight in its day and quite an experience to walk down. For greater detail I would recommend the following three books:

Kanzlei books

The first two books are memoirs, Hoffmann’s is more academic. The first memoir, Rochus Misch’s, is an excellent read. He only died in 2013, still lived in Berlin and was apparently quite happy to discuss his time in the NRK. He narrates the poignant story of playing with the Goebbels children who called out “Misch, Misch, du bist ein Fisch!” (“Misch, you’re a fish!).  It must have been very traumatic for him to see their eventual fates. He also gives an interesting insight into life in the NRK, especially in The Bunker where he was probably the second-last to leave. Traudl Junge’s book is also good as she talks of Hitler’s treatment of his staff on a personal level, for example he personally offered condolences at the death of her husband and preferred to eat his meals with his (female) staff when he could. The final chapters cover her very real (to me at least) disillusionment with Hitler and I believe her feelings of guilt were real as she often says that she can’t believe how gullible and selfish she was. Like Speer at the murder of Herbert von Bose, she turned a blind eye. Peter Hoffmann’s book is a cracker although it becomes a little technical in places. The anecdotes,however, are great: he quotes Hitler as complaining about the chance of assassination from across Wilhelm-Strasse with the words “An assassin with a gun could shoot me or any other idiot from across the street ..” (quotation not exact, I’m too lazy to look it up but that’s the gist of it.) And one of the Chancellory staff had the unenviable job of ringing up Sepp Dietrich at the Lichterfelde barracks to complain that some of the SS guards were spending their guard duty time riding up and down the elevators or putting their faces up against the glass windows during briefings.

Here’s a view of the Marmorgalerie looking east (i.e. towards Wilhelmstrasse):


…and a night shot closer to the door, showing the furnishings and wall sconces:

bb2edf1436cb4def0223e2e2946a1c8e Pin

This is where you currently are, viz. outside Hitler’s office (where the red line ends). If you are Emil Hacha, President of Czechoslovakia, history will not be kind to you:

So far

It was in this office on March 15, 1939, that Hacha was forced to cede his country to the Nazis so if you are standing in this carpark:

Hacha 1

…just on the left-hand side of this fence (by my reckoning), spare a thought for the old gentleman who had to hand his country over, was forced to collaborate and was then arrested after ‘liberation’ by the Russians and died or was murdered in prison two weeks after his arrest.  He is often described as being too old and in feeble health for the job of confronting Hitler, in fact here is a quotation from Wikipedia:

“According to some post-war historians, Hácha was not responsible for his actions, given his old age and failing mental faculties.”

Don’t believe everything you read on Wikipedia: “given his old age and failing mental faculties”? Give me a break – he was 67.

I am 68.

Here’s a little test. See if you can pick which of these was the President of Czechoslovakia and which was a high school teacher:

Hacha and me

I rest my case.

OK, this post is getting too long. Time to move on …