Geoff Walden


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Obersalzberg

The Platterhof

   The Platterhof hotel has a long and interesting history  ...  alas, this history is now over, as most of the buildings were demolished in 2000. It began as an Obersalzberg estate called the Steinhauslehen. Mauritia "Moritz" Mayer bought it in 1877 and later opened the Pension Moritz. Moritz Mayer enjoyed considerable local fame, and after her death, the pension became known as the "Platterhof," because Moritz was widely assumed to have inspired the character of "Judith Platter" in Richard Voss' novel Zwei Menschen (Two People).

 

The postcard of Pension Moritz on the left was found in the Nazi Archives, captured by the U.S. Army at the end of the war. On the right is a 1937 postcard view of "Judith Platter" with her horses.  (left - National Archives Record Group 260NS, 5650/10; right - author's collection)

 

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Views of Pension Moritz in the early 1900s (top and center) and the 1930s (bottom).  Compare to the later 1930s and 1940s views below.  (period postcards in author's collection)

   

More period postcard views of the Platterhof, before the reconstruction of the main hotel. In the view at upper left, the original shingle roof of the Gästehaus Hoher Göll can be seen (left background). On the right, the later tin roof has been added to the Gästehaus, and a Nazi flag flies from a pole erected on the Bodnerbichl hill behind the Platterhof. The view at lower left shows the Platterhof hotel in 1937, shortly after the Nazi takeover. The main buildings have not yet been rebuilt, but the parking area has been enlarged and the garage has been started in the back. The view at the lower right shows the completed Platterhof, from a different angle. This angle shows the local post office building, across the street to the left.  (author's collection)
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  After the Nazis took over the Obersalzberg, the original Platterhof was remodeled, and a large multi-wing hotel erected around the original building, still known as the Platterhof. This was supposed to be a national people's hotel, where the common people of the Third Reich could stay when visiting their Führer, but in keeping with Martin Bormann's increased seclusion of the area around Hitler's Berghof, the Platterhof never served that purpose. Indeed, as with much of Bormann's other construction, it ended up being an expensive luxurious monument, totally unsuitable for the common people. Instead, it served high-ranking Nazi dignitaries and other important visitors. In 1943, necessities of war turned the Platterhof into a military hospital and rest home. The complex included a large multi-story garage building, with quarters on the upper floors for hotel staff.

   The bombing attack of 25 April 1945 did considerable damage to the Platterhof. It was not destroyed, but it stood derelict for several years. However, it escaped the 1952 destruction of Nazi buildings, and was rebuilt and renovated by the U.S. Army as the Hotel General Walker, as part of the Armed Forces Recreation Center. After return to the German government in 1995 its fate was unclear, but it was torn down, along with the ruins of the garage, in 2000. Sadly, plundering such had not been seen since 1945 was allowed to happen. Some of the furnishings in the Platterhof were original to the wartime building (furniture, chandeliers, decorative fittings), and other original furnishings from the Kehlsteinhaus and other area buildings had been placed there by the AFRC. According to local sources, before the authorities knew what was happening, most of these priceless items were allegedly plundered by the demolition crews, and apparently little or nothing has been recovered.

   Only a side building and the rear terraces were spared from destruction (this side building - the Terrassen Halle - is visible in the postcard view on the right below; the building appears at the lower left corner; this building was enlarged and used as a restaurant by the U.S. Army AFRC, the "Skyline Room"). The hotel site has been turned into a parking lot for the Dokumentation Obersalzberg center and the Kehlsteinhaus bus ticket office.  (MapQuest Map Link)

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Platterhof complex in the 1940s. The closest building was a post office and employee store (see below). In the right distance can be seen the buildings of the SS barracks compound.

Postcard brought back from Germany in 1946 by my father, Lt. Delbert Walden. This view shows the Gästehaus Hoher Göll in the left distance.  (collection of G.R. and G.A. Walden)

 

Few views exist of the post office and employee store building. The building was badly damaged in the 1945 bombing attack.
This view was taken by French forces in May 1945. Note the camouflage paint pattern that was applied to many Obersalzberg buildings late in the war.

 

Street side views of the Platterhof, during a winter in the 1930s, and after its use by the Americans as the General Walker Hotel, before its destruction in 2000.  (period postcard in author's collection)

 

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Rarely seen views of the Platterhof complex from the road leading toward the Hintereck, looking toward the Reiteralpe mountains. The extension of the building at the front, toward the street (on the left side in these views) was called the "Bergschenke." This dining area provided a cozy atmosphere and was popular as a pub.  (period postcards in author's collection)

 

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Reception Hall (left) in the Platterhof. The main registration desk is to the right. On the right, the grand dining hall in the Platterhof.  (left - National Archives, RG 260-NSA-21; right - collection of G.R. and G.A. Walden)

 

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Left - the large "Kaffeehalle" in the Platterhof in the 1940s. Right - the interior of the Platterhof "Bergschenke." This hall,  which can be seen jutting out from the side of the Platterhof closest to the adjacent road, was a popular pub for the Obersalzberg SS guard force. (left - period postcard; right - National Archives, RG 260-NSA-22)

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Dietrich-Eckart-Zimmer. This Platterhof parlor was dedicated to the memory of Hitler's mentor Dietrich Eckart, who spent much of his last years in the Pension Moritz. His bust was displayed on the wall.  (National Archives, RG 260-NSA-32)

 

The "Bauernstube" or Farmers Parlor, a Platterhof room decorated in a more rustic style. Note the date 1671 that can be faintly seen on the ceiling cross beam - this part of the building had been built around the old Steinhauslehen (see note below).  (National Archives, RG 260-NSA-34)

A guest room in the Platterhof, decorated in a rustic Alpine style.  (National Archives, RG 260-NSA-35)

 

Interior hallway in the Platterhof. "Zirbenzimmer," paneled in decorative pine.  (period postcard)

 

On the Platterhof veranda, looking toward the mountains to the northwest.  (National Archives, RG 260-NSA-31)

Looking out onto the Platterhof terraces.  (period postcard)

 

Two private photos from 1942 showing SS guards escorting female guests on a visit to the Platterhof.  (author's collection)

 

Two views of this same side of the Platterhof, from May 1945, immediately following the Allied occupation of the Obersalzberg. On the left, a G.I. inspects a bomb crater near the Platterhof. The photo on the right extends this same viewpoint further to the right. Note the camouflage netting hanging off the roofs.  (left - from "Yank, The Army Weekly;" right - author's collection)

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Views of the Platterhof from the latter 1940s, following American takeover of the Obersalzberg. Note the camouflage patterns applied to the roofs and walls - a futile attempt to disguise the buildings from aerial attack (Hitler's Berghof was similarly camouflaged). After the renovation into the General Walker Hotel, an extension was added onto the near side of the Terrassenhalle (seen at left, with the large windows).  (left - U.S. Army photo; right - author's collection)

 

Further views of the Platterhof taken in the late 1940s, before the building was repaired for use as the General Walker Hotel. In the foreground of the photo below-right are the ruins of the post office and shop building, yet to be torn down.  (courtesy Thomas Schell, www.ostwallinfo.de)

 

On the left is a photo from early 1950, showing the inner courtyard before the Hotel General Walker was opened. Camouflage painting still appears on the wall. (See the bottom of this page for another interesting view of the fountain.) The postcard at the right shows the hotel in 1955.  (author's collection)

 

The Terrassenhalle ca. 1947, and today. Following renovation the U.S. Army used this as the "Skyline Room" restaurant. It survived the recent destruction of the General Walker Hotel, and has been reopened as a restaurant.  (private collection)

 

Another view of the Terrassenhalle in the late 1940s, seen from the street side, with a corresponding view today.  (private collection)

 

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1950s views of the General Walker Hotel. The view on the left is earlier, showing the "Skyline Room" restaurant (building on the left), before the U.S. Army added the extension that can be seen at the far left in the right-hand view, and in the color views below.  (postcards in author's collection)

 

1960s views of the General Walker Hotel.  (left - photo by Col. John J. Tarsitano, courtesy Nancy Tarsitano Drake; right - author's collection)

 

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The General Walker Hotel as it appeared in 1981, with the Untersberg mountains behind.

Similar view taken in 1999, before all these buildings were torn down in 2000.

 

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Since late 2000 the site looks like this. The main buildings have all been demolished, leaving the Platterhofhügel hill visible behind (the original Bodnerbichl). The site is now a parking lot.

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Remains of the Platterhof in 2001. On the left, the Large Terrace Hall later used by the U.S. Army as the "Skyline Room" restaurant. Rumor says this building was left standing because it was built by the U.S. Army, even though it shows plainly in pre-1945 photos (the Americans did add an extension onto the side of the building). Next, original brickwork and porcelain tiles in the basement remains. Last, a relic of history that remains at the site - these dates of 1854 and 1591 are cut into a stairway wall. They are said to be blocks from original Obersalzberg buildings that had been torn down, and incorporated into the rebuilt Platterhof. Another such relic was found in the deserted Platterhof, ca. 1999 - an original wooden beam from the Steinhauslehen, which had been used in the "Bauernstube" room, and later covered with plaster during American occupation. The presence of this beam (if nothing else!) should, by German law, have saved the Platterhof from destruction under historic sites protection and preservation. Indeed, thick stone walls found during the destruction indicated that an entire part of the original Steinhauslehen building had been preserved when the original Platterhof was built. Sadly, the historic preservation clauses of German law are being ignored on the Obersalzberg, and this beam and the surrounding building have now been destroyed.

 

The Platterhof / General Walker Hotel, then and now. The modern photo shows a lot of empty space, where the main hotel building used to be. All that is now left from these former views are the staircase and the arcades (now a souvenir shop).  (ca. 1960 postcard in author's collection)

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Above left - Platterhof garage, with staff quarters on the upper two floors. Right - GIs stroll past the ruins of the Platterhof garage in the summer of 1945. Below - Platterhof garage ruin in the foreground, with the ruins of the SS Kaserne in the center and the greenhouse on the slope beyond.  (National Archives, RG 242-HB, RG 342-FH-3A20800, RG 111SC; below right - author's collection)

 

The ruins of the Platterhof garage as they appeared when captured by the 3rd Infantry Division in May 1945.  (Donald G. Taggart, ed., "History of the Third Infantry Division in World War II," Washington, Infantry Journal Press, 1947)

 

These photos, taken from the same vantage point but about 10 years apart, show the Platterhof complex from the east. In the foreground is the garage and staff quarters building, with the hotel itself behind. The majestic Watzmann and Hochkalter mountains rise in the distance. The color photo at bottom shows a similar view taken in May 2000, before the razing of the hotel was completed.  (original photos by photographer Ernst Baumann; author's collection)

 

The garage ruin as seen in the late 1940s.  (private collection)

 

Views of the Platterhof garage ruin in the early 1960s. On the left, the ruins of the greenhouse can be seen in the right distance.  (photos by Col. John J. Tarsitano, courtesy Nancy Tarsitano Drake)

 

Ruins of the Platterhof garage in 1976. The roofing had been removed since the 1960s.
(courtesy Gerald Stephenson)

Ruins of the garage in 1981. The upper two floors of the post-bombing ruin were removed in the late 1970s

Interior of the garage in 1981. The interior was actually in quite good shape in the early 1980s.

 

Ruins of the garage in 1984 (left) and 1988.  (courtesy David Dionne)

 

Ruins of the Platterhof garage in 1999. Compared to the 1980s photos above, one can see that the ruins continued to be stripped (particularly the marble window casings) in the intervening period.

 

The garage ruins were torn down in 2000, leaving only the rear retaining wall (and the basement is also still beneath). A new building was erected here in 2002 to serve as the Kehlsteinhaus bus ticket office.

 

One other relic of the Platterhof remains in public view today. The Atlas Fountain, a work by the famous Third Reich sculptor Josef Thorak which graced the inner courtyard, was removed during the renovation of the General Walker Hotel in the early 1950s and is now in the neighboring city of Bad Reichenhall, in the center of the spa district. (thanks to my friend Ralf Hornberger for this info)  (left - private collection; right - collection of G.A. and G.R. Walden)  (MapQuest Map Link)

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Another type of relic associated with the Platterhof and other Obersalzberg buildings, which can still be found in the area today, is pieces of the camouflage netting that was put on many of the buildings, in a futile effort to shield them from aerial reconnaissance. This netting, which can be seen hanging off the roof of the Platterhof in the 1945 photo, consisted of plastic strips of various shades of brown and green, bundled and attached to wire netting. The netting has largely disappeared, but the bundles of plastic strips can still be found around several of the building sites.

 

 The aerial view on the left above shows part of the SS Kaserne and the entrance to the road leading to the Kehlsteinhaus. Of interest in this photo is the camouflage netting hanging down from support poles - in use, netting covered the SS Kaserne buildings and much of the surrounding open area. On the right is a closer view of some of the poles for the camouflage netting. On the left below is a view of the west side of the Berghof after American occupation - some of the camouflage netting can be seen hanging down (the structure at center is a Moll-System guard bunker). On some parts of the Obersalzberg, more-or-less intact pieces of the original netting can still be found - below is an example with much of the wire netting still intact.  (above left - U.S. National Archives; above right - Chester Fox collection; below left - "Yank, the Army Weekly," 22 June 1945)

 

My new guide book to Third Reich sites in the Berchtesgaden and Obersalzberg area has been published by Fonthill Media.
"Hitler's Berchtesgaden" is available now at Amazon and other retailers ( the Kindle version is also available from Amazon).

 

For further information, including Internet links, check the Bibliography page.

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All contents copyright © 2000-2014, Geoffrey R. Walden; all rights reserved.  All photos taken by or 
from the collection of Geoffrey R. Walden, except where specifically noted.  Please respect my property rights,
and the rights of others who have graciously allowed me to use their photos on this page,
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This page initially uploaded on 20 July 2000.


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