HITLER’S MOUNTAIN RETREAT ATTRACTS 300,000 VISITORS EACH YEAR
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Each year 300,000 travellers and pilgrims visit Adolf Hitler’s mountain top retreat in the German Alps despite it being omitted from tourist brochures; Eagles Nest is one of Germany’s most visited tourist attractions. This civil engineering triumph was gifted to the Fuhrer by the members of the NSDAP to celebrate his fiftieth birthday on April 20, 1939.
As early as 1923 the residents of this charming Bavarian resort, including Helene Bechstein of the famous piano makers, welcomed the future German leader to the Alpine idyll when he was just 34 years old. Following his release from Landsberg Prison, the German leader rented a small wooden house on the Platterhof where the young revolutionary began work on Mein Kampf (My Struggle).
Michael Walsh in his best-selling book, ODYSSEY ADOLF HITLER tells the fascinating story of Eagles Nest. The building of this civil engineering project was one of the greatest civil engineering triumphs of the 20th Century. A major issue was to maintain the natural beauty and keep to a minimum disturbance of the mountain fauna during construction. You cannot see the road from a distance, from the valleys or the peaks.
A labour force of 3,500 men, capable of shrugging off the most extreme alpine conditions, was recruited. Their salaries included family separation bonuses, working in high altitude working conditions and hardship allowances with bonuses for working with explosives. The winding road spiralling up to the snow-capped peak of Obersalzberg Mountain has withstood an estimated total weight of 4.2 million tons since 1960.
Germany’s most gifted engineers were involved in the Kehlstein project as were the nation’s greatest construction companies. A further 1,000 men, mostly experienced in tunnel and shaft engineering, were recruited to drive the tunnel into the mountain’s core. By September 1937 work on the main tunnel was begun. This provided for the boring of a 300-metre (1,000 feet) tunnel into the heart of the Kehlstein Mountain. This mountain tunnel would terminate at a 126-metre elevator shaft made ready to take visitors on the final leg to the Obersalzberg peak.
Frequent avalanches were another hazard. One such avalanche buried a group of convoy workers on the night of January 30, 1938. The Kehlstein road, carved out of the mountain, is 6.5 kilometres long and four metres wide. Five tunnels were dug out of the mountainside and a parking area in which buses could turn was built at 1,700 metres.
From this parking plateau is the tunnel leading to the mountain’s centre. This is 3 metres high and 300 metres (1,000 feet) long. Eagles Nest has a lovely restaurant situated in an impressive granite stone multi-room edifice.
The many beautifully furnished rooms include a huge round reception hall with panoramic windows and an impressive marble fireplace. There is also a large kitchen area, guardrooms and the elegantly pine-panelled ‘charitzkehlstube room.
The road leading upwards to Eagles Nest was built in just 12 months and cost 30 million Reich marks. After the war Eagles Nest was confiscated by American troops of occupation. During the German renaissance millions of Germans visited the Kehlstein but after the Allied occupation visitors were excluded until 1960.
Today, in the visiting season, fleets of buses carry tens of thousands of tourists up to the restored Eagles Nest each day. There they may enjoy the panoramic scenery, explore the beautiful mountaintop, enjoy soft drinks and purchase souvenirs.
MICHAEL WALSH is an internationally acclaimed journalist, author, poet and broadcaster shunned by liberal-left corporate media.
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