The site where Der Fuhrer, Adolf Hitler, dictator of Germany, and his wife Eva Braun committed suicide and were cremated in 1945 has since become almost unrecognizable.
Nearly 70 years after the double suicide, the refurbished concrete bunker where they hid in Berlin to flee the advancing Soviet artillery is half demolished and sealed beneath the parking lot of an apartment block, while the Chancellery has been replaced by a kindergarten and a Chinese restaurant.
It is believed that both Hitler and his wife, whom he married only two days before, swallowed cyanide capsules, which were tested for their efficacy on his beloved dog Blondi and her pups. For good measure, he ended up shooting himself with his service pistol.
The cremation site, where, in accordance with Hitler’s wishes, both his and Braun’s corpses were doused with gasoline and burned by the bunker survivors in a shell-crater, remains buried under a strange, polychromatic children’s slide.
According to VICE, local residents had mixed feelings about what it was like to live alongside this dark part of history.
“Do you ever think about the events that happened here?” VICE Media, Inc. contributing editor Roc Morin asked a young German man named Max.
“Not really,” Max admitted. “I’ve never been too interested in history. I had it in school, but for me there’s nothing special about it. There’s no connection anymore to the past. I’m not saying it should be forgotten, just that it’s not part of my history.”
Morin’s translator, Gaïa Maniquant-Rogozyk, who is Jewish, likes the fact that the site was scattered with modern art. She went along on this trip to assist Morin in interviewing the residents but admitted that if the bunker was still there she would have passed on the opportunity.
“I don’t think I would have come here if the bunker was still existing,” Gaïa told Morin. “When you grow up in a Jewish family,” she replied, “and when half of that family has been exterminated, you have a duty of memory. I went to Auschwitz on a school trip and I finally understood what happened. It’s so big that it’s easy for it to be abstract—just like a story—but in Auschwitz, there’s those big rooms with all the bowls that they found, and another one with all the prosthetics, and there’s a room with all the hair shaved from the heads of prisoners. I saw the hair and I had to leave. At that point, I understood what happened and I didn’t need to see anything more. I had fulfilled my duty.”
An elderly woman who passed by believed the remnants of Hitler’s “1,000-year” Reich wasn’t worth her time.
“It doesn’t really make a difference to us,” she stated. “We’ve been here for a long time. If you always had to think about Hitler, you’d just become crazy after a while. It’s not the only thing you can think about.”
What do you think? Would you feel comfortable living near the site where Hitler and his wife committed suicide?