Berlin unveils site of Hitler's bunker

The hidden site of the bunker where Adolf Hitler watched his Third Reich disintegrate in the final months of the second world war has been officially marked by a historical group seeking to demystify it.

    There are many leftover bunkers and tunnels in Berlin

    Hidden below a playground and an apartment block, the location of the "fuehrer's" bunker was unrecognisable until the Berlin Underworlds' Association unveiled its information panel with graphics, historic photos and a chronology in German and English on Thursday.

    Sven Felix Kellerhoff, author of the book The Fuehrer Bunker. Hitler's Last Refuge, said: "This is one of the most symbolic places in Berlin for the crimes the Nazis committed and we want to make sure people know the whole truth about it".

    Rochus Misch, a former SS staff sergeant who was a Hitler bodyguard throughout the war, attended the unveiling and recalled his experiences.

    "During the last 12 days of the war, I was down here with Hitler and the other bodyguards all the time," said Misch, 88, pointing to the place where Hitler killed himself on April 30, 1945, as Soviet troops closed in.

    In an earlier interview with The Associated Press, Misch, one of the last surviving witnesses of Hitler's final days, lamented that there was no indication anymore of where the bunker stood in the heart of Berlin.

    History must be told

    "History can be good or bad, but even if it's about a devil, people must be informed of history," he said.

    Officials fear right-wingers will
    make the bunker a pilgrimage site

    Berlin officials had been hesitant about pointing out the location because they feared that right-wing activists would turn the site into a place of pilgrimage.

    But Kellerhoff said city guides often stop at the site of the bunker and tell tourists myths about it, and that it was important to make the truth known.

    One of the incorrect stories claims the bunker had 12 floors and an underground highway that Hitler used to cruise beneath the city.

    "That's all complete nonsense," said Kellerhoff, whose organisation conducts research and tours of Berlin's many bunkers and tunnels.

    He said the bunker was built in 1935 on a much smaller scale, containing several rooms fortified by 4.2-metre-thick walls.

    Today, not much is left of the structure. After the war, Soviet soldiers blew up most of the bunker, and in the 1980s the remaining foundation and walls were filled with rubble, making it inaccessible.

    SOURCE: AFP


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