Casemate's The Final Archives of the Führerbunker

Author/Artists: Paul Villatoux & Xavier Aiolfi

Publisher/Distributor

Casemate

Price

$37.95 MSRP from Casemate

Reviewer:

Scott Van Aken

Notes: 160 pages,  hardcover, over 150 photos and illustrations. 8 x 10 inches.
ISBN: 978-1-61200-904-6

The last days of Nazi Germany have fascinated people since the end of the war in 1945. Most particular the fate of Adolf Hitler. For decades all that was heard in the West was stories without any hard evidence of his death. In many ways, that was due to what the Soviets did when they finally took over the city of Berlin.

We have all heard that he killed himself and his new wife in a bunker under the Reichchancellery, but that is about it. Was this true or just a tale to satiate the victors. Did Hitler actually escape and go somewhere else to live out his life?

This book pretty well puts to bed all the wild takes and suppositions. It is a story of the building of the vast bunker network under the Reichchancellery in Berlin and the rebuilding of this huge edifice itself. One thing about civil buildings during the Nazi period is that they were not only quite large, but quite impressive in terms of their impact and even on their opulence. There were long, tall, hallways with impressive statuary. Rooms were also quite large with tall ceilings and impressive furnishings. This was especially so of Adolf Hitler's private quarters and his office, though he did not really spend all that much time in them.

To ensure that there would be a place for the upper echelon of the Nazi party to be safe from bombardment, a huge underground bunker structure was built as the Reichchancellery was being constructed. There were basically two bunker sections, each very large and with their own power and ventilation system. One system was built a few feet below the structure. The other was build deeper and with thicker walls and ceilings. It is this latter section that Hitler lived in while in Berlin once the war started and where he was when his life ended.

When the Soviets entered the chancellery building and its bunkers, they took or destroyed everything they could find. They exhumed Hitler's burnt corpse and took it to the Soviet Union. In the 1970s, it and other remains from the bunker area were destroyed, leaving only a few relics behind. However, they did not get everything. Just after the war, a French officer bribed a Soviet guard to allow him into the bunker complex. There he found a stash of telegrams in Martin Borman's office that provide a remarkable story of the last days. These were kept by his family and undiscovered until many decades later. These provided additional insights into the final days of the Third Reich and are the basis for this book.

In addition to telling the story of the final days, we are provided a look at the Reichchancellery along with the people who worked there. Thanks to many surviving photos, many in color, we get a good picture of this building. Few photos of the bunkers were taken, but what was is provided here. In addition, we get a short biography of some of Hitler's most trusted people who served him in those final days.

In all, it makes for a superb book on a truly historic subject. One that I found quite fascinating to read and I know you will as well. Most highly recommended.

November 2020

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