Tag Archives: Winston Churchill

Death of Adolf Hitler – Part 1: The Reichskanzlei-Führerbunker


. Myself . By T.V. Antony Raj.

.

Adolf Hitler
Adolf Hitler

In 1986, the East German government made plans to build a massive apartment complex on the corner of Vossstrasse and Wilhelmstrasse in what was then East Berlin. For constructing the complex it was necessary to demolish concrete from a darker past. Under the construction site, located 28 feet (8.5 metres) deep in the ground, was the most notorious and imposing bunker complex used by Adolf Hitler and his murderous band of Nazis at the close of World War II.

In 1987, Robert Conrad, a German photographer, disguised as a construction worker took the risk to secretly photograph Adolf Hitler’s decaying Reichskanzlei-Vorbunker-Führerbunker complex. Conrad said:

Of course there was nothing in the newspapers about the Nazi bunkers. That was very much a taboo subject, as was everything about the Nazi period… Officially, they were just constructing a new residential neighborhood.”

Wilhelmstrasse in 1934, Reich Chancellery and Foreign Office on the left
Wilhelmstrasse in 1934, Reich Chancellery and Foreign Office on the left

Wilhelmstrasse (German: Wilhelmstraße) is a major thoroughfare in the central Mitte and Kreuzberg districts of Berlin, Germany. The street whose former name was Husarenstraße was renamed Wilhelmstraße in honor King Frederick William I, who died in 1740.

Wilhelmstraße was recognized as the centre of the government, first of the Kingdom of Prussia, later of the unified German Reich, housing in particular the Reich Chancellery and the Foreign Office.

King Frederick William I (August 14, 1688 –  May 31, 1740) of Prussia built the Palais Schulenburg, at Wilhelmstraße 77, for his esteemed Lieutenant General Count Adolph Friedrich von der Schulenburg. The building was completed in 1739.

Palais Schulenburg - Main building and courtyard formerly located on Wilhelmstraße.
Palais Schulenburg – Main building and courtyard formerly located on Wilhelmstraße.

In 1875, after many ownerships, the feuding Radziwill heirs sold Palais Schulenburg to the German Reich. It became the Reichskanzlerpalais (Chancellor’s palace). It was the Chancellery of the German Reich from 1871 to 1945 from the time of Otto von Bismarck, the first Chancellor of Germany, and subsequent German Chancellors, the last being Adolf Hitler.

The Reichskanzlei-Vorbunker

Adolf Hitler (center) with his architects Professor Leonhard Gall (left) and Albert Speer (right) (Source: Deutsches Bundesarchiv Bild 183-H29050)
Adolf Hitler (center) with his architects Professor Leonhard Gall (left) and Albert Speer (right) (Source: Deutsches Bundesarchiv Bild 183-H29050)

In 1933, Adolf Hitler decided to expand the Reichskanzlei (Reich Chancellery), which he considered too small for his needs. On July 21, 1935, Professor Leonhard Gall, one of Adolf Hitler’s architects, submitted unique plans for a large reception hall to be built as an expansion of the old Chancellery, that could also be used as a ballroom.

The plan envisaged a bunker 5 feet (1.5 metres) beneath the cellar of the large reception hall behind the old Reich Chancellery at Wilhelmstraß. It had a 6.25 feet (1.6 metres) thick roof. The thick walls of the bunker were designed to support the weight of the large reception hall on top of it. The bunker had three doorways – to the north, west and south.

The construction was completed in 1936.

Schematic diagram of the Reichskanzlei-Vorbunker as it was in April 1945 (Source: Dennis Nilsson)
Schematic diagram of the Reichskanzlei-Vorbunker as it was in April 1945. (Source: Dennis Nilsson)

The bunker was meant to be a temporary air-raid shelter for Adolf Hitler, his guards, and servants. It was officially called the “Reich Chancellery Air-Raid Shelter” until 1943, with the construction to expand the complex with the addition of the Führerbunker, located one level below. From then on this bunker became known as the Vorbunker or forward bunker or upper bunker.

The New Reich Chancellery

Though Hitler lived in Reichskanzlerpalais he once commented that Bismarck’s Old Chancellery was “fit for a soap company” but not suitable as headquarters of a Greater German Reich. So, in January 1938, Hitler asked Albert Speer, his chief architect, to build a larger, grander, new Reich Chancellery on the same site as the existing structure. Hitler said he needed the new building built in a year, in time to host the foreign diplomats during his next New Year’s reception.

This huge undertaking was a tall order because the existing Chancellery was in full operation. After consultation with his assistants, Speer agreed to build it.

However, the site was cleared only in April, 1938. Speer employed thousands of workers in two shifts. He completed the task successfully in nine months.

New Reich Chancellery - The Eastern Administrative Building.
New Reich Chancellery – The Eastern Administrative Building.

Albert Speer presented the fully furnished New Reich Chancellery to Hitler two days earlier than the allotted last day.

Hitler, who had remained away from the project, was overwhelmed when he saw the large, impressive, structure that included a 480-feet (146 metres) long “Marble Gallery,” almost twice the length of the Hall of Mirrors in the Palace of Versailles. In appreciation Hitler awarded Speer the Nazi Golden Party Badge. But in Winston Churchill’s words, it was the hub of “a monstrous tyranny never surpassed in the dark, lamentable catalogue of human crime.”

The Reichskanzlei-Führerbunker

3D model of Führerbunker (left) and Vorbunker (right) by Christopher Neubauer
3D model of Führerbunker (left) and Vorbunker (right) by Christopher Neubauer

The most famous and arguably the most notorious and elaborate bunker complex in Germany consisted of two separate shelters, constructed in two phases. The Vorbunker completed in 1936, and the Führerbunker, to the west-southwest, completed in 1944. Since the bunkers were kept secret, information and details about them are rather scarce.

Increased bombing of Berlin led to the expansion of the Vorbunker as an improvised permanent air-raid shelter. The Führerbunker located 2.5 metres (8.2 ft) lower than the Vorbunker was built about 28 feet (8.5 metres) beneath the garden of the old Reich Chancellery, 390 feet (120 metres) north of the new Reich Chancellery building at Voßstraße 6.

The Reichskanzlei-Führerbunker was the last of the Führer Headquarters used by Adolf Hitler.

Schematic diagram of the Reichskanzlei-Führerbunker  as it was in April 1945. (Source: Dennis Nilsson)
Schematic diagram of the Reichskanzlei-Führerbunker as it was in April 1945. (Source: Dennis Nilsson)

The above sketch of Reichskanzlei-Führerbunker is based on the photographs taken in 1988 by researcher Tom Posch of the remains of the bunkers and published in the book titled “The Berlin Führerbunker: The Thirteenth Hole, After the Battle, No.61“, Special Edition, Battle of Britain International Ltd, 1988.

The Vorbunker and the Führerbunker were connected by a stairway set at right angles and could be closed off from each other by a bulkhead and a steel door.

Besides being deeper underground, the Führerbunker had significantly more reinforcement than the Vorbunker. Its roof was made of concrete almost 10 feet (3 metres) thick. About 30 small rooms were protected by approximately 13 feet (4 metres) of concrete; exits led into the main buildings, as well as an emergency exit up to the garden.

.

Previous – Prelude

Next → Part 2: Hitler retreats to the Reichskanzlei-Führerbunker

.

RELATED ARTICLES

Advertisements

Indians Hated British Prime Minister, Sir Winston Churchill.


Readers have viewed this post more than 18,981 times.

.

Myself 

By T. V. Antony Raj

.

It is said that sixty-four years ago, during the last days of the British rule, Indians hated British Prime Minister, The Right Honorable Sir Winston Leonard Spencer-Churchill, KG, OM, CH, FRS, PC because he steadfastly opposed the granting of freedom to India by his vituperative statements such as:

Power will go to the hands of rascals, rogues and freebooters. All Indian leaders will be of low calibre and men of straw. They will have sweet tongues and silly hearts. They will fight amongst themselves for power and India will be lost in political squabbles. A day would come when even air and water would be taxed.”

“India is merely a geographical expression. It is no more a single country than the equator.

.

Sir Winston Churchill

.

Sir Winston Churchill was a visionary and was able to visualize what kind of political set-up, bureaucratic and Education system the Britishers were leaving behind them. After 65 years of Independence we now realize that Churchill was a true prophet and foretold of what was in store for the good people of India – a social welfare state.

Later on, Churchill always described the years 1896 to 1897, when he served as a soldier and journalist in India, as “the university of his life.”

We have to admit, barring a very few notable exceptions among our leaders, that all our present day Indian politicians are of ‘low calibre’ who make hay while the sun shines by mortgaging our freedom for the welfare of their own families.

In the present political arena in India, the political parties keep aside all their moral principles just before the elections and ally with their political enemies.

While canvassing for votes, these ‘rascals, rogues and freebooters’ come to our doorsteps, and with ‘sweet tongues’ inveigle us by competing with each other by doling out instant cash as per the number of votes in each household and promise to give non-existing freebies when their party wins.

After the elections, the winning parties part their ways and “will fight amongst themselves for power and India will be lost in political squabbles.

Sir Winston Churchill’s prediction, ‘A day would come when even air and water would be taxed‘ has come true. Even polluted and contaminated water is taxed by municipal corporations, townships, and village panchayats.

Selling water once considered a sin is now a booming business because the government is unable to supply clean, potable water to its citizens. Raw water is supplied by tankers and purified potable mineral water in canisters and bottles.

Air is not taxed at the moment. Even now, the Central Government of India and its satellite States might be conferring and analyzing the ways and means of levying tax on the contaminated impure air that we are now being forced to breath.

Power will go to the hands of rascals, rogues and freebooters. All Indian leaders will be of low calibre and men of straw. They will have sweet tongues and silly heartsThey will fight amongst themselves for power and India will be lost in political squabbles. A day would come when even air and water would be taxed.”

The above passage that I used at the beginning of this post has often been cited and purported to a speech on the eve of Indian Independence in 1947 by Sir Winston Churchill or even from a speech in the house of Commons. However, it does not seem to have any credible source.

It might have first appeared in the 1979 Annual Report of the discredited “Institute for Rewriting Indian History” launched by Purushottam Nagesh Oak commonly known as as P.N. Oak. This bigoted Indian writer, notable for his Hinducentric brand of historical revisionism claimed that Christianity and Islam are both derivatives of Hinduism, or that the Catholic Vatican, Kaaba and the Taj Mahal were once Hindu temples to Shiva. Hence, if Oak had quoted this passage, then it should be taken with a pinch of salt.

Furthermore, the passage purported to Sir Winston Churchill has found its way into at least three books, as well as countless media and websites, such as, “Anything multiplied by zero is zero indeed!” by M. R. Venkatesh in Rediff India Abroad (11 April 2007).

Even so, if these are not the words of Sir Winston Churchill, then I beg your pardon. Nevertheless, I stand by whatever I have said in this post.

.

Click on this line to view more comments and opinions about this article expressed by the Semester 1 and Semester 3 students of Professor Dilip Barad,  Dept. of English, Maharaja Krishnakumarsinhji Bhavnagar University, Bhavnagar, Gujarat, India. 

Add this anywhere