Easy Company, 2nd Battalion, 506th Parachute Infantry Regiment, 101st Airborne Division are arguably among the most famous paratroopers to have served during the Second World War. Participating in D-Day, Operation Market Garden and the Battle of the Bulge, they were assigned to occupation duties toward the end of the conflict. Along with being stationed in Austria, the men of Easy Company were also tasked with occupying the Führer‘s Eagle’s Nest upon its capture.
The men of Easy Company came together following the creation of the US Army’s airborne forces. Undergoing intense training at Camp Toccoa, Georgia, they were among the strongest fighters in the Allies’ arsenal, and over the course of their service saw much success. As a reward for their bravery, they were given occupational duties just prior to the German surrender.
As aforementioned, one of the locations they were stationed was the Eagle’s Nest, known in Germany as the Kehlsteinhaus. Atop the summit of the Kelhstein, the extravagant building was located north of the Führer‘s summer home and hosted gatherings with high-ranking German political and military officials. Despite being presented to the Führer on his 50th birthday, he rarely visited it, making only 14 recorded journeys to the summit.
The Eagle’s Nest was among the targets of the Royal Air Force (RAF) bombing of Obersalzberg in 1945. However, it was difficult for the Allied bombers to target, with pilots, instead, opting to drop their munitions on the Berghof. In early May, the Allies were finally able to capture the Eagle’s Nest, with Easy Company tasked with occupying and guarding it.
Several photos were taken during this time, which show Easy Company enjoying the lavish amenities the Eagle’s Nest had on offer – after all, it was built for Germany’s highest-ranking official. The above image shows three members, among them Maj. Richard Winters, having a rest after a long year of fighting. One can only imagine how relieved the trio and their comrades were to have survived the war.
The Eagle’s Nest was used as a command post by the Allies until 1960, at which point it was handed back to the government of Bavaria. Easy Company was disbanded in November 1945, two months after World War II came to an end with the Japanese surrender. It was reactivated in 1954 as a training unit.