Fifty feet below Berlin’s former Reich Chancellery and a few minutes from Potsdamer Platz in central Berlin was Hitler’s bunker or Führer bunker.
In the middle of January 1945, the Allied and Soviet advance was bringing troops, as well as dozens of bombing raids, closer and closer to the city of Berlin. So Hitler moved into the bunker to command the remaining months of the war from there.
World War Two air raid shelters were basic structures just below ground level and were built to shelter people for a short amount of time during bombing raids. But Hitler’s bunker was built and fitted out to house Hitler and his entire command for months on end. It had its own heating, electricity and water supply and was around 3000 sq ft in size. It was reinforced to withstand extensive bombing and was accessed via a corridor in the Chancellery adorned with Hitler’s prize paintings. The entire bunker was decorated with works of art, including a portrait of Frederick the Great in Hitler’s study, the Time reports.
Hitler maintained his regular routine while in the bunker. He would get up late in the morning, bathe and eat, and have his first meeting at around midday. The remainder of the day was continuous meetings with his generals and military advisers. He would often stay up discussing the war effort until the early hours of the morning. Hitler was for a time a vegetarian and would eat meals of vegetable soup, corn and egg omelets; his vegetarian cook lived in the bunker as well.
Even though it was business as usual, the constant threat of the Soviet and Allied invasion was upon the inhabitants of the bunker. Hitler’s Third Reich was drawing to a close and the tension and strain was evident in all those who lived in or visited the bunker. Many reported feeling claustrophobic with the lack of sunlight and constant underground living, as well as being at such close quarters with so many people. There was Hitler and Eva Braun, his officers, support staff, and Goebbels entire family, including six children.
When Hitler and Eva Braun got married in the bunker towards the end of April, there was little celebration with the overriding sense that they would not be able to survive for much longer. Reports say that there was a feeling of despair and hopelessness. It was the day directly after the marriage that Hitler and Eva Braun took cyanide pills to commit suicide. Before they did they gave one of the pills to Hitler’s Alsatian dog to make sure the pills worked. Some of Hitler’s officers also asked for pills so they could use them when the time came, rather than being captured by Soviet or Allied troops.
A very nice visualization of the Führerbunker: