Das Kehlsteinhaus - "The Eagle's Nest"
Das Kehlsteinhaus is the famous Teehaus (Teahouse in English) which was built on the Kehlstein mountain in the Bavarian Alps by the Nazis as a gift to Adolph Hitler for his 50ieth birthday. Construction was completed by September 1938, seven months before the building was officially presented to Hitler as a birthday gift on April 20, 1939 by the Nazi party. Widely known to Americans as The Eagle's Nest, the house is one of the top tourist attractions in the Munich area.
The old photo above shows the east side of the Eagle's Nest with the patio that was added in the 1960ies in the foreground. Taken in late Spring, the photo shows the yellow flowers of a sweet broom bush in bloom in the foreground. The tower in the center of the building is the Windenstube (Winch chamber) which houses the engine and the winch for the wire rope that lifts the elevator from the parking lot up to the building.
Jutting out on the left side in the photo above is the Eva Brown room. Glassed-in colonnades, with an arched window at the end, run across the left side of the building. Access to the colonnades is through the Eva Braun room. The two windows in the front, on the left side, are the kitchen windows. The window on the right in the photo above is a window into the room that was formerly used as a day room by Hitler's guards.
The door in the center on the east side opens into a hallway which has a door into the kitchen and a door into the room used by Hitler's guards. To the left of the door is the sign that is shown in the photo below which tells visitors that the building is 1834 meters above sea level.
The photo below shows the patio as it looked when I visited in May 2007. Behind the camera is the path up to the summit of Kehlstein mountain where there is a large Christian cross. The second photo below was taken from the summit.
Many Americans mistakenly believe that the term "Eagle's Nest" refers to Hitler's former private residence on the Obersalzberg, which was located just below the Kehlsteinhaus. The movie "War and Remembrance" showed scenes of events which actually happened at Hitler's residence, the Berghof, but were filmed at the Kehlsteinhaus. The term "Eagle's Nest" was allegedly coined by a group of World War I veterans who visited it at Hitler's invitation, and the name has always referred only to Hitler's Teehaus.
Hitler made 14 official visits to the Kehlsteinhaus including his first visit on September 16, 1938, the day after he had met with British Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain at his Berghof house on the Obersalzberg in the famous "appeasement" conference which many historians consider to be the beginning of World War II. His last official visit was on October 17, 1940. Hitler also made at least 3 unofficial visits. His fear of heights caused him to avoid visiting this fabulous mountain retreat more frequently, but it was a favorite hangout for his mistress, Eva Braun, who often went there with her friends.
On April 25, 1945, 318 British Lancaster bombers conducted two attacks on the area. The homes on the Obersalzberg belonging to Martin Bormann, deputy chief of staff, and Herman Goering, were destroyed, along with Hitler's residence, but fortunately the bombs completely missed the Eagle's Nest. No one was killed in the bombing because none of the Nazi leaders were there and all the servants went into an underground bunker on the Obersalzberg, which is still open to visitors.
Das Kehlsteinhaus was designed by architect Roderich Fick as a wooden frame structure, but it consists of 80% concrete, particularly in the area of the octagonal main hall or reception room, shown to the right in this photo. The outside walls, as well as the interior walls, are covered by a facade of granite stones, which gives the impression that the building is a solid stone structure. The granite stones came from a quarry near Passau.
Many levels of foundations had to be constructed in the building of das Kehlsteinhaus, as shown in this view taken on the northeast side. The archway over the northeast entrance was designed to be asymmetrical.
Door handles, instead of knobs, were typically used in Germany, and door knobs were virtually unknown on German buildings when das Kehlsteinhaus was built in 1938. Homesick American soldiers in Germany in the 1940ies and 1950ies would refer to the USA as "the land of the round doorknob."