The Führer Headquarters (Führerhauptquartiere in German), abbreviated FHQ, is a common name for a number of official headquarters used by the Nazi leader Adolf Hitler and various German commanders and officials throughout Europe during World War II. Perhaps the most widely known headquarters was the Führerbunker in Berlin, Germany, where Hitler committed suicide on 30 April 1945. Other notable headquarters are the Wolfsschanze (Wolf’s Lair) in East Prussia, where Claus von Stauffenberg in league with other conspirators attempted to assassinate Hitler on 20 July 1944, and Hitler’s private home, the Berghof, at Obersalzberg near Berchtesgaden, where he frequently met with prominent foreign and domestic officials.
At the beginning of World War II there were no permanent headquarters constructed for the German supreme leader, the Führer. Hitler visited the frontlines by using either aeroplane or his special train, the Führersonderzug; thus, the Führersonderzug can be considered as the first of his field headquarters. The first permanent installation which became a Führer Headquarters was the Felsennest, which was used by Hitler during the Battle of France in May, 1940. Hitler actually spent very little time in Berlin during the war, and the most frequently used of his dwellings were without comparison the Berghof and the Wolfsschanze, spending more than 800 days at the latter.
The Führer Headquarters were especially designed to work as command facilities for the Führer, which meant all necessary demands were taken into consideration; communications, conference rooms, safety measures, bunkers, guard facilities etc. were prepared accordingly. Even Berghof and the Obersalzberg complex were modified and extended with considerable defense facilities (bunkers, guard posts etc.). The Wehrmachtbericht, a daily report on the situation at the front, was also broadcast from the Führer Headquarters.
The Kehlsteinhaus (in English-speaking countries also known as the Eagle’s Nest) is a chalet-style structure erected on a subpeak of the Hoher Göll known as the Kehlstein. It was built as an extension of the Obersalzberg complex erected in the mountains above Berchtesgaden. The Kehlsteinhaus was intended as a 50th birthday present for Adolf Hitler to serve as a retreat, and a place for him to entertain visiting dignitaries.
The Kehlsteinhaus was commissioned by Martin Bormann, with construction proceeding over a 13-month period. It was completed in the summer of 1938, prior to its formal presentation to Hitler on his 50th birthday on April 20, 1939. It is situated on a ridge at the top of the Kehlstein mountain 1,834 m (6,017 ft), reached by a 6.5 km (4.0 mi) long and 4 m (13 ft) wide road that cost RM 30 million to build (about 150 million euros in 2007, adjusted in line with inflation). It includes five tunnels but only one hairpin turn and climbs 800 m (2,600 ft).
The last 124 m (407 ft) up to the Kehlsteinhaus are reached by an elevator bored straight down through the mountain and linked via a tunnel through the granite below that is 124 m (407 ft) long. The inside of the large elevator car is surfaced with polished brass, Venetian mirrors and green leather (the elevator is still used daily). Construction of the mountain elevator system cost the lives of 12 construction workers. The main reception room is dominated by a fireplace of red Italian marble, presented by Mussolini, which was damaged by Allied soldiers chipping off pieces to take home as souvenirs. Much of the furniture was designed by Paul László.
A significant event held at the Kehlsteinhaus was the wedding reception that followed the marriage of Eva Braun’s sister Gretl to Hermann Fegelein on June 3, 1944. The event was filmed and amongst others Martin Bormann can be seen there. The building is often mistakenly referred to as a “tea house”, a corruption of its abbreviated name, “D-Haus”, short for “Diplomatic Reception Haus”. As a result it is frequently confused with the tea house at Hitler’s Berghof, the Mooslahnerkopf Teehaus, he visited daily after lunch.
Although the site is on the same mountain as the Berghof, Hitler rarely visited the property. It has been suggested he only visited the Kehlsteinhaus around 10 times, and most times for no more than 30 minutes. He received André François-Poncet (the departing French ambassador to Germany) there on October 18, 1938.
Today the building is owned by a charitable trust, and serves as a restaurant. The restaurant features an indoor dining area and an outdoor beer garden. It is a popular tourist attraction to those who are attracted by the historical significance of the “Eagle’s Nest”. The house can be reached on foot (two hours of walking) or by bus from Obersalzberg, the road having been closed to private vehicles since 1952.
Informal tours of the Kehlsteinhaus are available to be booked through the official website. Due to concern about neo-Nazis and post-war Nazi sympathisers no external guides are permitted to conduct tours.
The lower rooms are not part of the restaurant but can be visited with a guide. They offer views of the building’s past through plate-glass windows. Graffiti left by Allied troops is still clearly visible in the surrounding woodwork. A large fireplace in the restaurant itself shows severe damage along its lower edges where soldiers have smashed off small shards of marble as souvenirs. Hitler’s small study is now a store room for the cafeteria.
A trail leads above the Kehlsteinhaus towards the Mannlgrat ridge reaching from the Kehlstein to the summit of the Hoher Goll. The route, which is served by a Klettersteig, is regarded as the easiest to the top.
Getting there / Opening Dates
season opening 11.05.2013
Please call the infoline: 0049 8652 2029 and 967 0.
The Eagles Nest is today a restaurant and not a museum.
There are no tours with strange guides allowed.
Fax: +49 (0) 8652 948091
By car take the A8 and exit at Bad Reichenhall or at Salzburg Süd to Berchtesgaden and from there the Obersalzberg road to the Hintereck parking area at Obersalzberg.
Possible ways of reaching Kehlsteinhaus (Eagle’s Nest)
- RVO-Bus from Hintereck parking area to the Eagle’s Nest parking area
- Or hike from Ofneralm up to the Eagle’s Nest parking area (approx. 1½ to 2 hours)
- Or hike from Scharitzkehl parking area to the Eagle’s Nest parking area on a trail that offers beautiful panoramic views. (approx. 2 ½ to 3 hours)