Führerbunker (German pronunciation: [ˈfyːrərˈbʊŋkɐ]) was
an air raid shelter located near the
Reich Chancellery in Berlin,
Germany. It was part of a subterranean bunker complex constructed in
two phases in 1936 and 1944. It was the last of the Führer
Headquarters (Führerhauptquartiere) used by
Adolf Hitler during World
Hitler took up residence in the
Führerbunker on 16 January 1945, and
it became the centre of the Nazi regime until the last week of World
War II in Europe.
Eva Braun there during the last week
of April 1945, shortly before they committed suicide.
After the war, both the old and new Chancellery buildings were
levelled by the Soviets. The underground complex remained largely
undisturbed until 1988–89, despite some attempts at demolition. The
excavated sections of the old bunker complex were mostly destroyed
during reconstruction of that area of Berlin. The site remained
unmarked until 2006, when a small plaque was installed with a
schematic diagram. Some corridors of the bunker still exist but are
sealed off from the public.
2 Events in 1945
3 Post-war events
4 See also
6 External links
Reich Chancellery bunker was initially constructed as a temporary
air-raid shelter for
Hitler (who actually spent very little time in
the capital during most of the war). Increased bombing of
to expansion of the complex as an improvised permanent shelter. The
elaborate complex consisted of two separate shelters, the Vorbunker
("forward bunker"; the upper bunker), completed in 1936, and the
Führerbunker, located 2.5 metres (8.2 ft) lower than the
Vorbunker and to the west-southwest, completed in 1944. They
were connected by a stairway set at right angles and could be closed
off from each other by a bulkhead and steel door. The
located 1.5 metres (4.9 ft) beneath the cellar of a large
reception hall behind the old
Reich Chancellery at
Wilhelmstrasse 77. The
Führerbunker was located about 8.5
metres (28 ft) beneath the garden of the old Reich Chancellery,
120 metres (390 ft) north of the new
Reich Chancellery building
at Voßstraße 6. Besides being deeper under ground, the
Führerbunker had significantly more reinforcement. Its roof was made
of concrete almost 3 metres (9.8 ft) thick. About
30 small rooms were protected by approximately 4 metres
(13 ft) of concrete; exits led into the main buildings, as well
as an emergency exit up to the garden. The
was built by the
Hochtief company as part of an extensive program of
subterranean construction in
Berlin begun in 1940.
Hitler's accommodations were in this newer, lower section, and by
February 1945 it had been decorated with high-quality furniture taken
from the Chancellery, along with several framed oil paintings.
After descending the stairs into the lower section and passing through
the steel door, there was a long corridor with a series of rooms on
each side. On the right side were a series of rooms which included
generator/ventilation rooms and the telephone switchboard. On the
left side was Eva Braun's bedroom/sitting room (also known as Hitler's
private guest room), an ante-chamber (also known as Hitler's sitting
room), which led into Hitler's study/office. On the wall hung
a large portrait of Frederick the Great, one of Hitler's heroes. A
door led into Hitler's modestly furnished bedroom. Next to it was
the conference/map room (also known as the briefing/situation room)
which had a door that led out into the waiting room/ante-room.
The bunker complex was self-contained. However, as the
Führerbunker was below the water table, conditions were unpleasantly
damp, with pumps running continuously to remove groundwater. A diesel
generator provided electricity, and well water was pumped in as the
water supply. Communications systems included a telex, a telephone
switchboard, and an army radio set with an outdoor antenna. As
conditions deteriorated at the end of the war,
Hitler received much of
his war news from
BBC radio broadcasts and via courier.
Events in 1945
See also: Battle of
Berlin and Death of Adolf Hitler
Plan of the Führerbunker
Plan of the Vorbunker
Hitler moved into the
Führerbunker on 16 January 1945, joined by his
senior staff, including Martin Bormann.
Eva Braun and Joseph Goebbels
joined them in April, while
Magda Goebbels and their six children took
residence in the upper Vorbunker. Two or three dozen support,
medical, and administrative staff were also sheltered there. These
included Hitler's secretaries (including Traudl Junge), a nurse named
Erna Flegel, and telephone switchboard operator Sergeant Rochus Misch.
Hitler continued to utilize the undamaged wing of the Reich
Chancellery, where he held afternoon military conferences in his large
study. Afterwards, he would have tea with his secretaries before
going back down into the bunker complex for the night. After several
weeks of this routine, he seldom left the bunker except for short
strolls in the chancellery garden with his dog Blondi. The bunker
was crowded, the atmosphere was oppressive, and air raids occurred
Hitler mostly stayed on the lower level, where it was
quieter and he could sleep. Conferences took place for much of the
night, often until 05:00.
On 16 April, the
Red Army started the Battle of Berlin, and they
started to encircle the city by 19 April.
Hitler made his last
trip to the surface on 20 April, his 56th birthday, going to the
ruined garden of the
Reich Chancellery where he awarded the Iron Cross
to boy soldiers of the
Hitler Youth. That afternoon,
bombarded by Soviet artillery for the first time.
Hitler was in denial about the dire situation and placed his hopes on
the units commanded by Waffen-SS General Felix Steiner, the
Armeeabteilung Steiner ("Army Detachment Steiner"). On 21 April,
Hitler ordered Steiner to attack the northern flank of the encircling
Soviet salient and ordered the German Ninth Army, south-east of
Berlin, to attack northward in a pincer attack. That evening,
Red Army tanks reached the outskirts of Berlin.
Hitler was told at
his afternoon situation conference on 22 April that Steiner's forces
had not moved, and he fell into a tearful rage when he realised that
the attack was not going to be carried out. He openly declared for the
first time the war was lost—and he blamed his generals. Hitler
announced that he would stay in
Berlin until the end and then shoot
On 23 April,[a]
Hitler appointed General of the Artillery Helmuth
Weidling, commander of the LVI Panzer Corps, as the commander of the
Berlin Defense Area, replacing Lieutenant-Colonel (Oberstleutnant)
Ernst Kaether. The
Red Army had consolidated their investment of
Berlin by 25 April, despite the commands being issued from the
Führerbunker. There was no prospect that the German defence could do
anything, but delay the city's capture.
Hitler summoned Field
Robert Ritter von Greim
Robert Ritter von Greim from
Berlin to take over
command of the Luftwaffe from Hermann Göring, and he arrived on 26
April along with his mistress and crack test pilot Hanna Reitsch.
On 28 April,
Hitler learned that Reichsführer-SS
Heinrich Himmler was
trying to discuss surrender terms with the Western Allies through
Count Folke Bernadotte, and
Hitler considered this treason.
Enraged, he ordered Himmler's arrest and had
Hermann Fegelein shot,
who was Himmler's SS representative at Hitler's HQ in Berlin.
On the same day, General Hans Krebs made his last telephone call from
Field Marshal Wilhelm Keitel, Chief of German
Armed Forces High Command (OKW) in Fürstenberg. Krebs told him that
all would be lost if relief did not arrive within 48 hours. Keitel
promised to exert the utmost pressure on Generals Walther Wenck,
commander of the Twelfth Army, and Theodor Busse, commander of the
Ninth Army. Meanwhile, Hitler's private secretary
Martin Bormann wired
to German Admiral Karl Dönitz: "
Reich Chancellery a heap of
rubble." He said that the foreign press was reporting fresh acts
of treason and "that without exception Schörner, Wenck and the others
must give evidence of their loyalty by the quickest relief of the
That evening, von Greim and Reitsch flew out from
Berlin in an Arado
Ar 96 trainer.
Field Marshal von Greim was ordered to get the
Luftwaffe to attack the Soviet forces that had just reached
Potsdamerplatz, only a city block from the Führerbunker.[b]
During the night of 28 April, General Wenck reported to Keitel that
his Twelfth Army had been forced back along the entire front and it
was no longer possible for his army to relieve Berlin. Keitel gave
Wenck permission to break off the attempt.
Eva Braun after midnight on 28–29 April in a small
civil ceremony within the Führerbunker. He then took secretary Traudl
Junge to another room and dictated his last will and testament.[c]
Hans Krebs, Wilhelm Burgdorf, Goebbels, and Bormann witnessed and
signed the documents at approximately 04:00.
Hitler then retired
Late in the evening of 29 April, Krebs contacted Jodl by radio:
"Request immediate report. Firstly of the whereabouts of Wenck's
spearheads. Secondly of time intended to attack. Thirdly of the
location of the Ninth Army. Fourthly of the precise place in which the
Ninth Army will break through. Fifthly of the whereabouts of General
Rudolf Holste's spearhead." In the early morning of 30 April, Jodl
replied to Krebs: "Firstly, Wenck's spearhead bogged down south of
Schwielow Lake. Secondly, Twelfth Army therefore unable to continue
attack on Berlin. Thirdly, bulk of Ninth Army surrounded. Fourthly,
Holste's Corps on the defensive."[d]
Brigadeführer Wilhelm Mohnke, commander of the centre government
district of Berlin, informed
Hitler during the morning of 30 April
that he would be able to hold for less than two days. Later that
morning, Weidling informed
Hitler that the defenders would probably
exhaust their ammunition that night and again asked him for permission
to break out. Weidling finally received permission at about 13:00.
Hitler shot himself in the
Führerbunker that afternoon, and Braun
took cyanide. In accordance with Hitler's instructions, the
bodies were burned in the garden behind the Reich Chancellery.
Goebbels became the new
Head of Government
Head of Government and Chancellor of Germany
(Reichskanzler) in accordance with Hitler's last will and testament.
Reichskanzler Goebbels and Bormann sent a radio message to Dönitz at
03:15, informing him of Hitler's death, and Dönitz was appointed as
the new President of
Germany (Reichspräsident) in accordance with
Hitler's last wishes.
Krebs talked to General Vasily Chuikov, commander of the Soviet 8th
Guards Army, at about 04:00 on 1 May,[e] and Chuikov demanded
unconditional surrender of the remaining German forces. Krebs did not
have the authority to surrender, so he returned to the bunker. In
the late afternoon, Goebbels had his children poisoned, and he and his
wife left the bunker at around 20:30. There are several different
accounts on what followed. According to one account, Goebbels shot his
wife and then himself. Another account was that they each bit on a
cyanide ampule and were given a coup de grâce immediately
afterwards. Goebbels' SS adjutant
Günther Schwägermann testified
in 1948 that the couple walked ahead of him up the stairs and out to
the Chancellery garden. He waited in the stairwell and heard the
shots, then walked up the remaining stairs and saw the lifeless bodies
of the couple outside. He then followed Joseph Goebbels' order and had
an SS soldier fire several shots into Goebbels' body, which did not
move. The bodies were then doused with petrol and set alight, but
the remains were only partially burned and not buried.
Weidling had given the order for the survivors to break out to the
northwest, and the plan got underway at around 23:00. The first group
Reich Chancellery was led by Mohnke; they tried
unsuccessfully to break through the Soviet rings and were captured the
next day. Mohnke was interrogated by SMERSH, like others who were
captured from the Führerbunker. The third breakout attempt from the
Reich Chancellery was made around 01:00 on 2 May, and Bormann managed
to cross the Spree.
Arthur Axmann followed the same route and reported
seeing Bormann's body a short distance from the Weidendammer
At 01:00, the Soviet forces picked up a radio message from the LVI
Panzer Corps requesting a cease-fire. Down in the Führerbunker,
General Krebs and General Burgdorf committed suicide by gunshot to the
head. The last defenders in the area of the bunker complex were
French SS volunteers of the 33rd Waffen Grenadier Division of the SS
Charlemagne (1st French), and they remained until the early
morning. The Soviet forces then captured the Reich
Chancellery. General Weidling surrendered with his staff at 6:00,
and his meeting with Chuikov ended at 8:23. Johannes Hentschel,
the master electro-mechanic for the bunker complex, stayed after
everyone else had either left or committed suicide, as the field
hospital in the
Reich Chancellery above needed power and water. He
surrendered to the
Red Army as they entered the bunker complex at
09:00 on 2 May. The bodies of Goebbels' six children were
discovered on 3 May. They were found in their beds in the Vorbunker
with the clear mark of cyanide shown on their faces.
The ruins of both Chancellery buildings were levelled by the Soviets
between 1945 and 1949 as part of an effort to destroy the landmarks of
Nazi Germany. The bunker largely survived, although some areas were
partially flooded. In December 1947, the Soviets tried to blow up the
bunker, but only the separation walls were damaged. In 1959, the East
German government began a series of demolitions of the Chancellery,
including the bunker. Because it was near the
Berlin Wall, the
site was undeveloped and neglected until 1988–89. During
extensive construction of residential housing and other buildings on
the site, work crews uncovered several underground sections of the old
bunker complex; for the most part these were destroyed. Other parts of
the Chancellery underground complex were uncovered, but these were
ignored, filled in, or resealed.
Government authorities wanted to destroy the last vestiges of these
Nazi landmarks. The construction of the buildings in the area
Führerbunker was a strategy for ensuring the surroundings
remained anonymous and unremarkable. The emergency exit point for
Führerbunker (which had been in the Chancellery gardens) was
occupied by a car park.
On 8 June 2006, during the lead-up to the 2006 FIFA World Cup, an
information board was installed to mark the location of the
Führerbunker. The board, including a schematic diagram of the bunker,
can be found at the corner of In den Ministergärten and
Gertrud-Kolmar-Straße, two small streets about three minutes' walk
from Potsdamer Platz. Hitler's bodyguard, Rochus Misch, one of the
last people living who was in the bunker at the time of Hitler's
suicide, was on hand for the ceremony.
Ruins of the bunker after demolition in 1947
Führerbunker and information board in April 2007
A side angle view of the site in July 2007
Bunker – 1970 book
Bunker – 1981 film
Downfall – 2004 film
Matsushiro Underground Imperial Headquarters
^ Beevor 2002, p. 286 states the appointment was 23 April;
Hamilton 2008, p. 160 states "officially" it was the morning of
24 April; Dollinger 1997, p. 228, gives 26 April for the
^ The Luftwaffe order differs in different sources. Beevor 2002,
p. 342 states it was to attack Potsdamerplatz, but Ziemke states
it was to support Wenck's Twelfth Army attack. Both agree that von
Greim was also ordered to make sure Himmler was punished.
MI5 staff 2005: Hitler's will and marriage" on the website of MI5,
using the sources available to
Hugh Trevor-Roper (a
World War II
World War II MI5
agent and historian/author of The Last Days of Hitler), records the
marriage as taking place after
Hitler had dictated his last will and
^ Dollinger 1997, p. 239, says Jodl replied, but Ziemke 1969,
p. 120, and Beevor 2002, p. 537, say it was Keitel.
^ Dollinger 1997, p. 239, states 03:00, and Beevor 2002,
p. 367, 04:00, for Krebs' meeting with Chuikov.
^ Ziemke 1969, p. 126 says that Weidling gave no orders for a
^ Arnold 2012.
^ Lehrer 2006, pp. 117, 119, 123.
^ Kellerhoff 2004, p. 56.
^ Mollo 1988, p. 28.
^ Lehrer 2006, p. 117.
^ Lehrer 2006, p. 123.
^ McNab 2014, pp. 21, 28.
^ Lehrer 2006, pp. 117, 119, 121–123.
^ Kershaw 2008, p. 97.
^ a b McNab 2014, p. 28.
^ a b McNab 2011, p. 109.
^ a b c McNab 2014, p. 29.
^ Kershaw 2008, pp. 97, 901–902.
^ Kershaw 2008, p. 901.
^ Lehrer 2006, pp. 124–125.
^ Taylor 2007, p. 184.
^ Beevor 2002, p. 278.
^ a b Kershaw 2008, p. 902.
^ a b Bullock 1999, p. 785.
^ Speer 1971, p. 597.
^ Kershaw 2008, p. 903.
^ Beevor 2002, pp. 217–233.
^ Beevor 2002, p. 251.
^ Beevor 2002, p. 255.
^ Beevor 2002, pp. 267–268.
^ Ziemke 1969, pp. 87–88.
^ Beevor 2002, pp. 255, 256.
^ Beevor 2002, p. 275.
^ Kershaw 2008, p. 934.
^ Ziemke 1969, p. 111.
^ a b c Dollinger 1997, p. 228.
^ Kershaw 2008, pp. 923–925, 943.
^ Kershaw 2008, pp. 943–946.
^ Kershaw 2008, p. 946.
^ a b Ziemke 1969, p. 119.
^ Beevor 2002, p. 342.
^ Ziemke 1969, p. 118.
^ a b c d Dollinger 1997, p. 239.
^ a b Beevor 2002, p. 343.
^ Kershaw 2008, p. 950.
^ Ziemke 1969, p. 120.
^ Beevor 2002, p. 357, last paragraph.
^ Beevor 2002, p. 358.
^ Joachimsthaler 1999, pp. 160–182.
^ Linge 2009, p. 199.
^ Kershaw 2008, pp. 956–957.
^ Williams 2005, pp. 324, 325.
^ Shirer 1960, pp. 1135–1137.
^ a b Joachimsthaler 1999, p. 52.
^ a b Beevor 2002, p. 381.
^ Beevor 2002, pp. 383, 389.
^ Beevor 2002, p. 387.
^ Weale 2012, p. 407.
^ Beevor 2002, pp. 387, 388.
^ Joachimsthaler 1999, p. 287.
^ Beevor 2002, p. 398.
^ Mollo 1988, pp. 48, 49.
^ Mollo 1988, pp. 49, 50.
^ Mollo 1988, pp. 46, 48, 50–53.
^ McNab 2014, p. 21.
^ Kellerhoff 2004, pp. 27, 28.
^ Kellerhoff 2004, p. 27.
^ Der Spiegel 2006.
Arnold, Dietmar (9 January 2012) [8 June 2010]. "Berliner Unterwelten
e.V.: The Legend of Hitler's Bunker". Berliner-unterwelten.de.
Archived from the original on 18 May 2011. Retrieved 11 June
Beevor, Antony (2002). Berlin: The Downfall 1945. London:
Viking–Penguin Books. ISBN 978-0-670-03041-5.
Bullock, Alan (1999) . Hitler: A Study in Tyranny. New York:
Konecky & Konecky. ISBN 978-1-56852-036-0.
Dollinger, Hans (1997). Decline and the Fall of
Nazi Germany and
Imperial Japan. London: Chancellor. ISBN 978-0-7537-0009-9.
Hamilton, Stephan (2008). Bloody Streets: The Soviet Assault on
Berlin, April 1945. Solihull: Helion & Co.
Joachimsthaler, Anton (1999) . The Last Days of Hitler: The
Legends – The Evidence – The Truth. London: Brockhampton
Press. ISBN 978-1-86019-902-8.
Kellerhoff, Sven (2004). The
Führer Bunker. Berlin:
Verlag. ISBN 978-3-929829-23-5.
Kershaw, Ian (2008). Hitler: A Biography. New York: W.W. Norton &
Co. ISBN 978-0-393-06757-6.
Lehrer, Steven (2006). The
Reich Chancellery and Führerbunker
Complex. An Illustrated History of the Seat of the Nazi Regime.
Jefferson, NC: McFarland. ISBN 978-0-7864-2393-4.
Linge, Heinz (2009). With
Hitler to the End. London; New York:
Frontline Books–Skyhorse Publishing.
McNab, Chris (2011). Hitler's Masterplan: The Essential Facts and
Figures for Hitler's Third Reich. Amber Books Ltd.
McNab, Chris (2014). Hitler's Fortresses: German Fortifications and
Defences 1939–45. Oxford; New York: Osprey Publishing.
Mollo, Andrew (1988). Ramsey, Winston, ed. "The
The Thirteenth Hole". After the Battle. London: Battle of Britain
MI5 staff (2005). "Hitler's last days". mi5.gov.uk. MI5. Retrieved 12
Shirer, William L. (1960). The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich. New
York: Simon & Schuster. ISBN 978-0-671-62420-0.
Speer, Albert (1971) . Inside the Third Reich. New York: Avon.
Staff (9 June 2006). "Debunking Hitler: Marking the Site of the
Führer's Bunker". Spiegel Online. Spiegel-Verlag. Retrieved 7 April
Taylor, Blaine (2007). Hitler's Headquarters: From Beer Hall to
Bunker, 1920–1945. Dulles, Virginia: Potomac.
Weale, Adrian (2012). Army of Evil: A History of the SS. New York:
Caliber Printing. ISBN 978-0-451-23791-0.
Williams, Andrew (2005). D-Day to Berlin. Hodder.
Ziemke, Earl F. (1969). Battle For Berlin: End Of The Third Reich.
London: MacDonald. OCLC 253711605.
Boldt, Gerhard (1973). Hitler: The Last Ten Days. New York: Coward,
McCann & Geoghegan. ISBN 978-0-698-10531-7.
C.I.U. General Staff, Geographical Section (1990). Ramsey, Winston G.,
ed. Berlin: Allied Intelligence Map of Key Buildings. After the Battle
– Battle of Britain International.
Fest, Joachim (2005). Inside Hitler's Bunker: The Last Days of the
Third Reich. New York: Picador. ISBN 978-0-374-13577-5.
Junge, Traudl (2004). Müller, Melissa, ed. Until the Final Hour:
Hitler's Last Secretary. New York: Arcade Publishing.
Neubauer, Christoph (2010). Stadtführer durch Hitlers
German and English). Frankfurt on the Oder: Flashback Medienverlag.
O'Donnell, James P. (2001) . The Bunker. New York: Da Capo
Press. ISBN 978-0-306-80958-3.
Petrova, Ada; Watson, Peter (1995). The Death of Hitler: The Full
Story with New Evidence from Secret Russian Archives. New York:
Norton. ISBN 978-0-393-03914-6.
Ryan, Cornelius (1966). The Last Battle. New York: Simon and
Tissier, Tony Le (1999). Race for the Reichstag: The 1945 Battle for
Berlin. London; Portland, OR: Routledge.
Trevor-Roper, Hugh (1992) . The Last Days of
ed.). University of Chicago Press. ISBN 978-0-226-81224-3.
Wikimedia Commons has media related to Führerbunker.
Shuger, Scott; Berger, Donald (21 June 2006). "
Hitler Slept Here: The
too-secret history of the Third Reich's most famous place". Slate
Bunkermuzeum – English version: Guide to military museums of
3D-stereoscopic images of Chancellery
Final occupants of the
Führerbunker by date of departure (1945)
Karl-Jesko von Puttkamer
Joachim von Ribbentrop
Robert Ritter von Greim
Bernd Freytag von Loringhoven
Nicolaus von Below
Armin D. Lehmann
Theodor von Dufving
Still present on 2 May
Hitler (Eva Braun)
Blondi (Hitler's dog)
Last will and testament
Rise to power
World War II
Places of residence
Special train (Führersonderzug)
Braunau am Inn
Vienna (Meldemannstraße dormitory)
Munich (16 Prinzregentenplatz)
Wealth and income
Hitler's Table Talk
In popular culture
The Victory of Faith
Triumph of the Will
Hitler: The Last Ten Days
The Meaning of Hitler
Hitler: The Rise of Evil
Eva Braun (wife)
Johann Georg Hiedler (grandfather)
Maria Schicklgruber (grandmother)
Leo Rudolf Raubal Jr. (half-nephew)
Geli Raubal (half-niece)
William Patrick Stuart-Houston (half-nephew)
Hitler's possible monorchism
Conspiracy theories about Hitler's death
Streets named after Hitler