Towards the end of World War II, the battles were being fought with massive casualties and destruction in the streets of Berlin. It was the spring of 1945 and every street was full of German and Russian troops fighting savagely. It was becoming increasingly clear that the Third Reich was about to fall. The Royal Air Force and Soviet bombers had launched over 350 air strikes on Berlin over the last 5 years, killing tens of thousands of civilians and demolishing countless buildings. Thousands of people were left homeless and every famous building in Berlin was left in shambles. Nothing marked the true end of the Third Reich, however, more than finding the bodies of Adolf Hitler, 56, and Eva Braun, 33, deep within a solid underground bunker on April 30th, 1945. Shortly after the two-week Battle of Berlin, a 33-year-old LIFE photographer, William Vandivert, visited the devastated landscape of Berlin documenting the ruins. He was able to photograph the very bunker that Hitler and Eva spent their final months before they committed suicide. It was the bunker in which they were married and the same bunker in which they died. These photos are incredibly creepy and reveal a part of history that truly draws at your emotions. Take a look inside Hitler’s bunker below.
This is what was left of Oberwallstrasse, which is located in central Berlin. This area received an incredible amount of fighting and damage between Russian and German troops in the spring of 1945.
Vandivert was able to photograph inside Hitler’s bunker. It had been partially burned by retreating German troops and looted by Russian soldiers.
Because of the destruction in Berlin, many areas had no power. William Vandivert had to use candles for the lighting in many of his shots inside HItler’s bunker. Above is a 16th century painting that was stolen from a museum in Milan, Italy.
Using only candles to light their way, these war correspondents examine a couch inside Hitler’s bunker that is stained with a large amount of blood on the arm and cushion.
Here is some abandoned furniture and a large tank of gas that was found abandoned inside the bunker.
These papers were dated April 29, 1945, the day before Hitler and Eva killed themselves. They were mostly news reports and stories.
Here a young Russian soldier poses inside Adolf Hitler’s bunker shortly after The Battle of Berlin.
This was a desk used by Adolf Hitler and his associates.
This photograph shows an SS officer’s hat that has obviously been through battle. The infamous death’s-head emblem is visible on the front.
This is a safe that was found inside Hitler’s bunker. It was obviously cut open and looted following the battle.
A LIFE Magazine correspondent sifts through debris in a shallow pit in the garden of the Reich Chancellery. He was told that this was where the bodies of Hitler and Eva were burned.
Inside the destroyed gardens of the Reich Chancellery.
Here is a heavily damaged pillbox that has been nearly destroyed by gunfire. This is located right outside of Hitler’s bunker.
A man shows the hinges that held the massive door leading into Hitler’s bunker. The hinges were completely destroyed in order to gain entry into the bunker.
The photographer was told that these gas cans were supposedly the cans used to burn the bodies of Hitler and Eva.
A civilian helps these Russian soldiers move a large bronze Nazi Party eagle that was once above a doorway leading inside the Reich Chancellery.
An American soldier is seen mocking the Nazi salute inside the destroyed structure of the Berliner Sportspalast, (Sports Palace).
It was tradition for soldiers to either commemorate their comrades or insult their foes with graffiti. This was taken at the Reichstag in Berlin.
Found outside the Reich Chancellery was a crushed globe and a fallen bust of Hitler’s head, perfectly describing Berlin and Hitler’s reign in 1945.
These images truly capture the final days of the Battle of Berlin and the horrific tyrannical rule of Adolf Hitler. The destruction is immense and the underground bunker is incredibly eerie. Photographer William Vandivert and Life Magazine have captured a part of history that must be remembered and shown. Many of these places and ruins were destroyed beyond recognition within days after these photographs were taken. Vandivert captured photographs inside Hitler’s bunker, they are a vital part of a time in history that will never be forgotten.
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