Saturday, December 17, 2022

Hiking the Bavarian Alps to Hitler's Eagle's Nest

Being avid history and WWII fans, Josh and I had planned on visiting Hitler's mountainside retreat, The Eagle's Nest, in Berchtesgaden, Germany. When researching our visit we discovered that you are able to hike the Bavarian Alps up to the historical landmark. We knew right away that was the route we wanted to take, instead of the tourist bus that, according to our tour guide, 99% of visitors use when touring the site. We decided we wanted to be that 1% and hike the exact same path the Easy Company of the 101st Airborne took when discovering the fortress. 

We ended up booking a hiking tour with Claudio via Monkey Business Adventure Tours and it was such a cool experience to be able to hike with a very intimate group and guide. Claudio was very knowledgeable and shared many interesting war stories and took us to several hidden spots that the general public do not see when visiting. 

A picture of the cabin as it looked in the 1940's and right behind it is what remains are left today. 

We began the tour that morning and started out by seeing the cabin remains where Adolf Hitler wrote his book, Mein Kampf. The cabin, along with most of the buildings near the Eagle's Nest, were bombed by the Allied forces. 

We then ventured on the path that took us up to the Eagle's Nest, covering 800 meters of altitude. The hike to the top was incredible. The views of the Alps were absolutely stunning and there was something so surreal about following in the footsteps of the Easy Company. Btw, if you have never seen the HBO series, Band of Brothers, I highly recommend it! 

Josh's face when our tour guide told us we weren't even halfway there yet. lolol 
You can see the top of the Eagle's Nest wayyyy up on the mountain to the right. 

Approximately two hours later, we reached the top. The Kehlsteinhaus, later renamed The Eagle's Nest, is 1848 meters above sea level and was the very heart of the Third Reich. The Eagle's Nest was used exclusively by members of the Nazi Party for government and social meetings and it was visited on 14 documented instances by Adolf Hitler. It is recorded that Hitler and members of the party occupied the retreat on D-Day. 

We were so happy to reach this gate that leads to the tunnel up to the Eagle's Nest.
It was quite a rigorous hike but soooo worth it! 

The long, dark tunnel is lined with rough marble and leads to an amazing, brass-lined elevator that takes you up to the 6,000 foot summit in 14 seconds. The ornate elevator is the same one used by the F├╝hrer and his visitors.

Our tour guide told us that the tunnel consistently had the perfect temperature to store wine and when the Allied troops seized the building in April of 1945 they discovered the wine and then proceeded to celebrate their victory while enjoying the beautiful views. 

The men of Easy Company sipping Hitler's wine atop the Eagle's Nest. April 1945.

Once we reached the top we had some lunch in the restaurant, browsed the majestic views, and saw the famous marble fireplace. The Italian marble fireplace was a gift to Hitler from Mussolini and we witnessed the damage caused by the Allied souvenir hunters.

Just eating a banana split on top of Hitler's Eagle's Nest. No big deal. ;) 

The Italian marble fireplace that was a gift to Hitler from Mussolini. If you look closely you can see chunks
of the stone are missing and there are engraved names inscribed by the Allies. 

The Kehlsteinhaus was a target for the 25th of April 1945 Bombing of Obersalzberg but narrowly escaped due to the difficulty of the mission. To bring about something good from the notorious landmark, the Bavarian government relinquished its control over the building to a trust that ensures that the proceeds are used for charitable purposes.

After our tour of the Kehlsteinhaus we then took the bus down the mountain. At the base of the mountain we then proceeded to see a hotel that was used before the war. It was one of the only buildings not bombed in the attack. The owner was asked to sell it to the SS leaders and when he refused he was sent to a concentration camp. Two weeks later, he changed his mind and was freed. 

Another famous landmark we visited at the base of the mountain was the Berghof, Hitler's summer home. Only the remains of the home are left standing as it was bombed by the Royal Air Force attacks. 

You can see the foundation of the remains of Hitler's summer home. 

Following our hike, our tour guide showed us how far we had hiked to the top of the Eagle's Nest. If you squint, you can barely see it. ;) Our guide told us he never shows people this view until after the hike. Haha

This was such an incredible day and one I will never forget. I would highly recommend this experience, and if you are physically able, would definitely recommend the hiking tour! 

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