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:

32323627_10156535425018678_4961363886092582912_n

… 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):

BTB

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:

http://www.spiegel.de/fotostrecke/photo-gallery-sneaking-into-hitler-s-bunker-fotostrecke-97539-21.html

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:

http://www.britlink.org/berlin/fahrerbunker/.

More on this as it comes to light.

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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):

https://forum.axishistory.com/viewtopic.php?f=44&t=126282&start=1500

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.

0_10aa1_40515ecd_orig Feld

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.

2a8aaa94d4087466_large2 Pin

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:

2014-07-23 08.55.34-1

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.

Berlin1946

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.

BUNDES_1

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):

https://www.epicmilitaria.com/german-ww2-militaria/personal-equipment/belt-buckles.html

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

AHF 2

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:

AHF 1

Documents

Amazingly, some genuine NRK stuff has survived:

Menu

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):

https://www.facebook.com/marketplace/sydney?multi_permalinks=561415307619364&notif_id=1543708256330860&notif_t=commerce_interesting_product&ref=notif&fb_dtsg_ag=AdyDJpj5gVFV4peObgXOsxG8mp6AIpZALEAg7U–PP-hqg%3AAdwafehWQ2rmvi8yJ2KrNdKXI_GVSqHD4-F4yHUZcvK-7Q&jazoest=265100121687411210653103867086521121017998103887911512071561091125465731129065766965103558545458080451041131035865100119971021011048781501141091181055612174507511478100758873957186831137268524570521217285909911875455581:

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…

Don’t.

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:

Reddit 1

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:

207ba04dbdd9aa7926bb16c7e76103f6 Pin

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

Speer_NRC_AH_MapTable

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:

DSCN2347

… complete with vengeful Russian bullet hole through Germany:

DSCN2348

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:

posed

NDVD_015

NDVD_019-1

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.

kanz1

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:

https://forum.axishistory.com/viewtopic.php?f=44&t=125876

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:

DSCN2346

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:

https://forum.axishistory.com/viewtopic.php?f=44&t=125876&start=45

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

27186736b8f63cfba4f984daa1793685

…and here it is in situ in colour:

976e90866b35355b6d2ac7e1680cf95f Pin

Source: Pinterest

But consider this:

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

and:

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:

GRAN SALÓN DE RECEPCIONES

…and from the other end:

bc9408932d793212a25a1f791f53d35e_image_document_large_featured_borderless

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

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/J._%26_L._Lobmeyr

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:

Inge_Ley_s

There were of course others at these functions:

2015-08-18 08.28.04

Sic transit Gloria Mundi:

3068462.jpg

3313143

3429552

Reichskanzlei/Kronleuchter/Foto 1948

Source: all photos of ruined chandeliers are from AHF