CLOSE X
Advertisement

Replica of bunker where Hitler killed himself in bad taste?

Europe

Berlin - In his last hideout in Berlin, Nazi dictator Adolf Hitler seems to have had a portrait of Emperor Friedrich II hanging on the bunker wall and a small German shepherd statue on the desk.

In one corner a grandfather clock, in the other, an oxygen cylinder.

Share this story

That's what's in a reconstruction of Hitler's working and living quarters recently opened by a commercial tourism venture in Berlin.

The new attraction, called Documentation Fuehrerbunker, includes a 1:25 scale model of Hitler's living and working quarters where the Nazi dictator took his life on April 30, 1945, as well as a full-scale reconstruction of his study.

The installation is located in an authentic, war-era air-raid shelter at the ruins of the Anhalter Bahnhof train station, a 15-minute walk south of where the 1944-built Fuehrer Bunker used to be located.

On the actual spot, there is only an information panel mounted on two poles. Monika Bauert, a film set designer who led the reconstruction of Hitler's private study, says tourists expect more than that.

“The information plaque there offers too little historical background,” she says: “I think one needs to be able to imagine it three-dimensionally.”

“We are not trying to create a Hitler show,” says curator Wieland Giebel of the non-profit association Historiale, which finances and curates both The Berlin Story Museum and the bunker exhibition.

He adds that the mocked-up study is only available for viewing by visitors taking the overall guided Berlin Story bunker tour lasting about 90 minutes, during which no photographs or other recordings are permitted.

That tour leads through an above-ground reinforced-concrete air-raid shelter built for civilians.

“The tour is of a bunker that was planned for 3 500 people but which at the end of the war was sheltering 12 000,” he said. “A parallel is drawn between what was happening there and what was going on in Hitler's bunker. We do not want to separate the one from the other.”

The Hitler mock-up has drawn fire however from a rival attraction.

The Topographie des Terrors (Topography of Terror) documentation centre - at the site of the former headquarters of the Gestapo secret police and the elite SS guards, located a few hundred metres north of the Anhalter bunker - is critical of the commercial museum.

The government-funded centre's task is to study, analyse and publicise the crimes committed by the Nazis.

“We look on this as a kind of Disneyland approach trying to create an effect,” says Topographie spokesperson Kay-Uwe von Damaros.

“(At Topography of Terror) we explain the history, do the documentation and keep to the facts. As such, we cannot support such staging. Sensationalism is not our thing.”

To some, this may be an understatement. The Topography of Terror is anything but sensational. Its presentation of black-and-white photos with long captions is sober in the extreme. Entrance is free of charge, but most tourists don't spend much time there, eager to get out and explore Berlin's more exciting and entertaining attractions.

Adam Kerpel-Fronius of the foundation for the Monument to the Murdered Jews of Europe says visitors have a great need to seek out the authentic sites. “I also don't think this is so bad,” he says.

“The fear used to be that it would become a pilgrimage place for neo-Nazis. But this hasn't been the case,” Kerpel-Fronius said.

“Everyone who comes to Berlin interested in its history knows that there used to be a Fuehrer bunker - and they are all the more surprised that once there, they find only a parking lot,” he added.

Share this story
Advertisement
X