Peter Palmer is a 94-year-old who served in World War II as an RAF Lancaster bomber. Right before the close of the war, Peter was given direct orders to fly to Austria.
His target was like no other – it was Hitler’s retreat home in the Bavarian Alps. The home was not only secluded, but it was also heavily guarded by Hitler’s men.
There is a photo, taken by another plane in his squadron, of Peter’s mission showing his Lancaster flying above Hitler’s getaway. The bomb Peter was just ready to drop was a 12,000 pound Tall Boy bomb aimed right on the hideaway to where Hitler and Eva Braun liked to escape.
Peter was given the orders on April 25, 1945. This happened to be his last mission before going home in two weeks’ time, which also turned out to be the end of the war. He recalls that this was not a special mission – it was just another trip to him. He was with Nine Squadron, which used to operate on special duties in the 617th, also known as the Dambusters Squadron. He recalls some of the other important missions he and the men went on, including strikes against submarine pens, bridges, and even the Prince Eugen battleship.
Considering the mission was such a blur, Peter says that he can’t even remember if they managed to hit the target, however, the men were satisfied with the bomb run. While some men feel remorse about attacking others, Peter has said several times that he doesn’t feel bad about this mission.
While he had been on leave, he was able to go back home to Kent to visit family briefly. He saw all the damage that had been done to London due to the German bombing. As he likes to say, the Germans started the bombing, so retaliating is the only way to get back at the damage the Germans caused.
One of Hitler’s other hideaways is now open to the public – it is home to a rather popular ski hill and is now called Hinterbrand Lodge. Hitler and his Nazis walked around the same mountain paths that now serve as a public tourist area. It took nearly $22.5 million dollars to clean up the property so it could be turned into a comfortable visitor’s lodge.
The lodge was built in 1903 by Countess Caroline zu Ortenburg. She had originally named the lodge Goellhaeus to honor her first ascent of the nearby mountain. During the 1920s, Dietrich Eckart, a German poet who was honored by Hitler in his book Mein Kampf, actually hid there while on the run from German police.
From the 1930s to 1945, the lodge was one of the many buildings that were used by the Nazis as their political base outside of Berlin. Several photos taken during the war depict Hitler and the Air Force commander Hermann Goring walking around the grounds of the retreat. For a while, after the war ended, the lodge became a recreation center for the U.S. personnel who were stationed in Germany. Then through the years 1971 to 2003, it was used by the Department of Defense Dependents Schools-Europe for an outdoor education center. Today, nearly 63 years later, the U.S. service members and families go to the lodge to climb the infamous Eagle’s Nest or ski at the Jenner ski area nearby.
While this lodge did not see damage from Peter Palmer’s bombing, a neighboring hideaway base was not so lucky. On the same mountain was the Nazi base called the Berghof that was destroyed by the Allied bombing.