Near the summit of the Kehlstein mountain in Berchtesgaden Germany sits The Kehlsteinhaus, also known as The Eagles Nest. It was here where Hitler and members of the Third Reich made plans for the war and mass murder. The building was built in 1939 for the Nazi party and was speculated to be a 50th birthday gift to Hitler, however this was not true.
In fact Hitler rarely visited Kehlsteinhaus.
Perhaps it was his fear of heights, or perhaps he wasn’t interested in the panoramic views below, but despite the horrific plans that occurred here I can’t deny the amazing views from the building. Kehlsteinhaus is one of the few buildings that was not touched by ally bombs during WWII, and is still largely preserved in its original state.
Before I moved to Germany, I remember sitting in my dads living room looking at the website of the hotel I currently work for. My dad and I were looking at the myriad of tours offered by the hotel, and The Eagles Nest was one of them. I’d not heard of this place until that day, and it planted a seed in both the brains of my dad and I.
One of the top places in Germany my dad wanted to see when he visited me last month was The Eagles Nest, so we planned for a day trip to see this important piece of history. I think places like this are important to see, but I don’t agree with the overly commercialized money making scheme that has been created around Kehlsteinhaus.
It’s one thing to pay for a ticket to enter and to visit, it’s another thing to sell t-shirts, sweatshirts, postcards, and stickers as if this were Disneyland. Maybe it’s just me, but I wouldn’t want to walk around wearing a sweatshirt that says Kehlsteinhaus on it. The building is now used as a restaurant, and a busy one at that, however that doesn’t take away from the original use of the building.
To reach Kehlsteinhaus, a bus is needed to drive about 20 minutes up the mountain. Once near the top, there is a tunnel built into the mountain (original tunnel) that leads to a golden elevator. The elevator room was designed to “dazzle” its guests and impress them with the glamour of the Nazi building. Although the building is now a restaurant, there are rooms inside that are still rich with history.
Inside one of the dining areas is an original fireplace that was gifted to Hitler from Mussolini. The fireplace is made of marble and has a beautiful brown color. The room that was once used as a sunroom is now used as an informational room with history of the Third Reich. The room has an amazing view of the lake and surrounding mountains.
The mountain itself is a host to a network of trails, of which I hope to return someday to explore. The views of Königssee below are breathtaking.
We spent enough time at the top to walk around a bit for the views, and sat for a bier and a bite at the restaurant. It was surreal to see photos of Hitler taken in some of the places we stood, and I couldn’t help but feel distain for him. I’ve since seen someone outside of this area wearing a Kehlsteinhaus sweatshirt and it just leaves a bad taste in my mouth.
Am I alone on this?
The Kehlstein mountain trails are seemingly endless, and if we’d had more time I’d have tried to explore more. The surrounding area of Berchtesgaden is a sight to see, and the German alps are massively dominant. These are the types of mountains that will swallow you whole if you’re not careful.
If you have any kind of interest in the history of WWII, I recommend a visit to Kehlsteinhaus. A place of terrible plannings, but a place of history nonetheless. Just do me a favor, and don’t buy any crazy souvenirs.
Q: What time in history interests you most? For me it’s WWII.