The Führer Headquarters (Führerhauptquartiere in German), abbreviated FHQ, is a common name for a number of official headquarters used by the Führer Adolf Hitler and various German commanders and officials throughout Europe during the Second World War. Perhaps the most widely known headquarters was the Führerbunker in Berlin, Germany, where Hitler committed suicide on 30 April 1945. Other notable headquarters are the Wolfsschanze (Wolf’s Lair) in East Prussia, where Claus von Stauffenberg in league with other conspirators attempted to assassinate Hitler on 20 July 1944, and Hitler’s private home, the Berghof, at Obersalzberg near Berchtesgaden, where he frequently met with prominent foreign and domestic officials.
At the beginning of World War II, there were no permanent headquarters constructed for the German supreme leader, the Führer. Hitler visited the frontlines by using either an airplane or his special train, the Führersonderzug; thus, the Führersonderzug can be considered as the first of his field headquarters. The first permanent installation which became a Führer Headquarters was the Felsennest, which was used by Hitler during the Battle of France in May 1940. Hitler actually spent very little time in Berlin during the war, and the dwellings he most frequently used were the Berghof and the Wolfsschanze, spending more than 800 days at the latter.
The Führer Headquarters were specially designed to work as command facilities for the Führer, which meant all necessary demands were taken into consideration; communications, conference rooms, safety measures, bunkers, guard facilities etc. were prepared accordingly. Even Berghof and the Obersalzberg complex were modified and extended with considerable defense facilities (bunkers, guard posts etc.). The Wehrmachtbericht, a daily report on the situation at the front, was also broadcast from the Führer Headquarters.
The Fuhrerhauptquartiere programme used over one million cubic meters of concrete, more than half at Anlage Riese and Wolfsschlucht II. Forced laborers worked for nearly twelve million working days; two-thirds at Anlage Riese, Wolfsschlucht II, and Wolfsschanze.
The Führer Headquarters cannot be considered as strict military headquarters; the Wehrmacht had their own, distinctly located in other places, yet often in the vicinity of the FHQs. Nevertheless, since Hitler very frequently intervened in the military command structure, the FHQs more than often became de facto military headquarters. In reality, the Führer Headquarters consisted of Adolf Hitler and his entourage, including the Oberkommando der Wehrmacht (OKW) directly controlled by Hitler, liaison officers and adjutants.
Every place Hitler stayed cannot be considered as a Führer Headquarters, and he did not stay at every official FHQ. Furthermore, some sources may not refer to the Berghof and the Führerbunker strictly as official German Führerhauptquartiere at that time in history, but both of them became de facto Führer Headquarters; thus, they are historically often referred to as such. The Berghof was modified in much the same way as other FHQs, and Hitler had daily conferences on military matters here at the latter part of the war. The Eagle’s Nest, i.e. the Kehlsteinhaus, was rarely used and may not be considered an FHQ as such alone; however, it was associated with the Berghof and part of the Obersalzberg military complex.
The Führerbunker was located about 8.5 meters (28 ft) beneath the garden of the old Reich Chancellery at Wilhelmstraße 77, and 120 meters (390 ft) north of the new Reich Chancellery building at Voßstraße 6 in Berlin. It became a de facto Führer Headquarters during the Battle of Berlin, and ultimately, the last one of his headquarters.
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Hitler’s official residence in Munich, September 1938.
The Führerbunker (English: “Leader’s bunker”) was an air-raid shelter located near the Reich Chancellery in Berlin, Germany. It was part of a subterranean bunker complex which was constructed in two major phases in 1936 and 1943. It was the last of the Führer Headquarters (Führerhauptquartiere) used by Adolf Hitler.
Hitler took up residence in the Führerbunker on 16 January 1945 and it became the center of the Nazi regime until the last week of World War II in Europe. Hitler married Eva Braun here during the last week of April 1945, shortly before they committed suicide.
After the war, both the old and new Chancellery buildings were leveled by the Soviets. Despite some attempts at demolition, the underground complex remained largely undisturbed until 1988–89. During the reconstruction of that area of Berlin, the sections of the old bunker complex that were excavated were for the most part destroyed. The site remained unmarked until 2006 when a small plaque with a schematic was installed. Some corridors of the bunker still exist but are sealed off from the public.
Führerhauptquartier Werwolf was the codename used for one of Adolf Hitler’s World War II Eastern Front military headquarters located in a pine forest about 12 kilometers (7.5 mi) north of Vinnytsia, in Ukraine, which was used between 1942 and 1943. It was one of a number of Führer Headquarters throughout Europe, and the most easterly ever used by Hitler in person.
Wolfsschanze or Wolf’s Lair
Wolf’s Lair (German: Wolfsschanze) was Adolf Hitler’s first Eastern Front military headquarters in World War II. The complex, which would become one of several Führerhauptquartiere (Führer Headquarters) located in various parts of occupied Europe, was built for the start of Operation Barbarossa – the invasion of the Soviet Union – in 1941. It was constructed by Organisation Todt.
The top secret, high security site was in the Masurian woods about 5 miles (8.0 km) from the small East Prussian town of Rastenburg (now Kętrzyn in Poland). It was guarded by personnel from the SS Reichssicherheitsdienst and troops from the Wehrmacht’s armoured Führer Begleit Brigade. Although three security zones surrounded the central complex where the Führer bunker was located, an attempt to kill Hitler was made at Wolf’s Lair on 20 July 1944.
Hitler first arrived at the headquarters on 23 June 1941. In total, he spent more than 800 days at the Wolfsschanze during a 3½-year period until his final departure on 20 November 1944. In the summer of 1944, work began to enlarge and reinforce many of the Wolf’s Lair original buildings, however the work was never completed because of the rapid advance of the Red Army during the Baltic Offensive in autumn 1944. On 25 January 1945, the complex was blown up and abandoned 48 hours before the arrival of Soviet forces.