Berchtesgaden

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This story is an excerpt of one of my many memoir stories I wrote for my children as a record of my WWII experiences. It proceeds as follows: Later in May 1945, Captain Ford again invited all who were interested to accompany him on a visit to Berchtesgaden – Hitler’s Eagle Nest in the Redoubt of the Alps Mountains. What a chance, I again jumped at it as I knew again that this was a once in a lifetime experience.

Here we were, only a few weeks after Hitler and his cronies were there,going up to look over (and hopefully find some souvenirs) in his and his fellow Nazi’s mountain retreat. We left very early in the morning, again only one truckload of maybe 18 or 19 and Captain Ford’s Jeep. It was a long journey, over winding mountain (but extraordinarily beautiful) roads.

We passed through Salzburg, Austria,at a little after sunrise. The early morning sun reflecting off the pastel colored buildings and spires was a sight to see. Beautiful hues of yellows, pinks, greens, and blues.  I also was aware, even at that unsophisticated stage of my life, that Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart lived and composed there for the greater part of his life.

Again, I was there… On our way from Salzburg to Berchtesgaden (UberSalzburg) we were again proceeding on a narrow winding river valley road, when around the bend came the largest cannon I ever did see. It was pedestal mounted on a three section flatbed trailer towed by a huge diesel tractor van. It must have been (I am not exaggerating) at least a half a football field long.

There were German soldiers manning steering wheels on the three sections in order to steer it around all the curves and bends in the road (like a two section fire truck). We had to pull off the road for it to pass by, and I got a real close up look. It was huge. I thought if we had had to smoke the Germans out of this Redoubt with their having cannons like that, we would have been in for a very rough time. Happily, the war was over, and this was not a problem.

We got to  Berchtesgadenaround noon. It took us about an hour to wind our way up the difficult mountain road to Hitler’s Retreat. We finally made it after a harrowing ride up. This place was remote.

When we got there we were greeted by Officers and soldiers from the 101st Airborne Division, who had parachuted there at about the same time that we were told to stop going forward (about the 1st or 2nd of May).They had captured the Retreat and denied the Germans the opportunity to use it as a stronghold for continuing the war.

Captain Ford had been in contact with one or more of the Officers, and our way was cleared to come and explore the Retreat area, take pictures, and scavenge anything that might still be left around after their guys had gotten theirs. The guys from the 101st were very gracious, and among other things they explained whose house was whose.

We listened to their stories about what happened when they captured the retreat, and got the idea that while there was some resistance, they had no real trouble.  Frank Simo and I then started out on our own tour and managed to scour Hitler’s house.

There was nothing left there. However, we were given the opportunity by an enterprising 101st  soldier to purchase two pages from a day book that was used to log Hitler’s private car as it picked up and delivered dignitaries up and down the mountain road from the retreat. (I had forgotten how I acquired the pages until I went back through my memories and it came back to me).

Since the 101st got there first, they got all the spoils, and the whole place was literally stripped clean. I had some of my German Mark recreation fund money with me, so I bought the pages. I don’t remember what he charged, but it didn’t make any difference, because it wasn’t my money anyway. The entries in the day book were dated April 12, 1945– the day that President Roosevelt died. That was less than a month  and a half earlier.

I have included some pictures of the various houses of the Eagles Nest and have included a copy of the day book pages in a separate section at the end of this story. Included in some of the pictures are German soldiers working on cleanup details around Goering’s house.  Uber-Salzburg (Berchtesgaden) Uber-Salzburg was the town at the foot of the Berchtesgaden Mountain where Hitler’s Retreat was located.

Goering’s Bombed-Out House in the Retreat Compound That is me standing there, rifle slung over my shoulder, and my dienstglas binoculars flopping on my chest. German Soldiers in the background are performing cleanup duties.

A View of Hitler’s House at BerchtesgadenHitler's Retreat

Goerings House_0001 Bertchesgaden 511 510 Chauffer List

2 thoughts on “Berchtesgaden”

  1. Oops! You might want to check the spelling of “Bertchesgaden”…and then correct it every place in this article.

    The correct spelling is: Berchtesgaden.

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