The Fuerhrerbunker (1935–1942)

Director: Christoph Neubauer Time: 50 minutes. B&W.

We all know what Hitler’s Berlin underground lair looked like: dark, narrow corridors winding into dank, dim caverns. But according to Christoph Neubauer, what we all know is wrong once again. Neubauer, an East German relocated to South Africa, has spent the last several years in search of the real Berlin of the Third Reich, above and below ground. He is nothing if not meticulous and obsessed. His first DVD, The Berlin Government District, takes a digital walk up the Wilhelmstrasse; his second, Albert Speer’s Neue Reichskanzlei, is a tour of the führer’s aboveground headquarters. Together, these two projects took the filmmaker some two and a half years to research (he amassed eight hundred photos and archival descriptions) and animate via computer graphics—with fascinating results. Now he’s subjected Hitler’s famed bunker to similar scrutiny and recreation, and what he’s come up with is literally eye-opening. Gone are the rot and mildew, the garish lighting, and dripping water of movies, history shows, and popular imagination. That misleading but enduring image Neubauer blames partly on wartime and postwar devastation and partly on the East German Stasi, who ran spotlights into the bunker during the 1970s to film it, with consequences echoing through all kinds of footage ever since. In Neubauer’s convincing depiction, by contrast, Hitler’s bunker is neither troll’s cave nor luxurious den, but a functional bureaucratic office center that, as he puts it, “happened to be underground.” His next project: recreating the bunker’s 1944 extensions and its condition up to the war’s end. The DVD is available at shop-neubauerverlag.de.

 

Originally published in the March 2008 issue of World War II Magazine. To subscribe, click here