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Inside Hitler and Eva Braun Bunker

Inside Hitler and Eva Braun Bunker

Inside Hitler and Eva Braun Bunker. A Russian soldier standing amid the rubble

Inside Hitler and Eva Braun Bunker
Russian soldiers fought their way to the heart of Nazism, in a crusade of revenge for the 27 million deaths Hitler’s forces caused in their homeland. 33-year-old LIFE photographer William Vandivert was on the scene, photographing the city’s devastated landscape — and the eerie, almost unfathomable scene inside the bunker where Adolf Hitler spent the last months of his life; where he and Eva Braun were married; and where, just before war’s end, the two killed themselves, on April 30 1945. The photos have been compiled in a LIFE.com gallery for the first time. Bunker was beneath the Reich Chancellery which was reduced to brickdust by Russian artillery shells and Allied bombs.

Hitler and Eva Brauns Bunker

Russian soldiers and a civilian struggle to move a large bronze Nazi Party eagle that once loomed over a doorway of the Reich Chancellery, Berlin, 1945. This photo was not originally published in LIFE

Inside Hitler and Eva Brauns Bunker.

Inside Hitler and Eva Braun’s Bunker.

Adolf Hitler’s command center conference room partially burned out by SS troops and stripped of evidence by invading Russians, in bunker under the Reichschancellery after Hitler’s suicide

Not originally published in LIFE

Inside Hitler and Eva Braun Bunker Not originally published in LIFE

Not originally published in LIFE. In typed notes that William Vandivert sent to LIFE’s New York offices after getting to Berlin, he described his intense, harried visit to Hitler’s bunker: “These pix were made in the dark with only candle for illumination … Our small party of four beat all rest of mob who came down about forty minutes after we got there.” Above: A 16th century painting reportedly stolen from a Milan museum.

The first of the approximately 20 pages of notes that William Vandivert typed for LIFE’s editors in New York

The first of the approximately 20 pages of notes that William Vandivert typed for LIFE’s editors in New York

The first of the approximately 20 pages of notes that William Vandivert typed for LIFE’s editors in New York, describing not only the pictures he took but also the atmosphere pervading his examination of Hitler’s bunker and the Reich Chancellery grounds. (An example of Vandivert’s terse, vivid notations: “… view of chancellery palace … completely bombed, burned and shelled to hell.”)

Adolf Hitler with mistress Eva Braun – the pair died together in the bunker

Adolf Hitler with mistress Eva Braun – the pair died together in the bunker

At the time Vandivert, who died in 1992, reported for LIFE; ‘Almost every famous building in Berlin is a shambles. In the center of town GIs could walk for blocks and see no living thing, hear nothing but the stillness of death, smell nothing but the stench of death.’

Inside Hitler and Eva Braun Bunker

source life.time.com