Berlin finally reveals site of Hitler's bunker

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 10 June, 2006, 12:00am
UPDATED : Saturday, 10 June, 2006, 12:00am

After more than 60 years Berlin has lifted the lid on the location of the bunker where Adolf Hitler shot himself in the final days of the second world war, and prominently marked the site.

A large sign was erected this week near Wilhelmstrasse above the underground labyrinth where Hitler married Eva Braun hours before committing suicide with her on April 30, 1945, ending the Nazis' 12-year reign of terror.

Despite the avid interest of tourists who frequently asked local shopkeepers about the location of the bunker, Berlin had refused to identify the site for fear it would become a shrine for neo-Nazis.

But Unterwelten (Berlin Underworlds), a private organisation which offers tours of the city's subterranean architecture, won permission from the urban development authority and the state memorial office to put up the panel after years of lobbying.

Group chairman Dietmar Arnold said the sober factual description of the bunker on the panel was meant to rob it of the mythic power it had in the city while it was still hidden. 'We wanted to demystify the site,' Mr Arnold said, adding the organisation had aimed to have the sign in place in time for soccer's World Cup.

All that remains of the actual 18-room 'Fuehrer Bunker' are the retaining walls and the foundation.

The new sign describes, in German and English, the history of the bunkers beneath Hitler's mammoth chancellery from the first air raid shelters in 1935 to the start of construction of the Fuehrer complex in 1943.

After it was completed in October 1944, Hitler spent the bulk of his time underground, issuing orders to his generals to keep fighting the war that would claim the lives of 55 million people.

In March 1945, he issued the so-called Nero order from the desk of his bunker office calling for the destruction of the means of existence of the civilian population, who he said had failed in defending the glorious German Reich. The order was ignored.

After the war, Soviet pioneers blew up the bunker and levelled the site. When the Berlin Wall went up in 1961, it became part of the no man's land.

The communists built a housing block there in the 1980s. The construction work required the removal of the bunker's roof, and the empty shell was filled with sand, gravel and debris.

The land was paved for a parking lot and a small grassy patch remained, left unmarked until this week.