Fall of Munich - May 1945 Hitler's flat and others

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palaisfan
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Fall of Munich - May 1945 Hitler's flat and others

Post by palaisfan » 03 May 2021 06:33

Meant to get this up sooner this weekend for the anniversary as thought might interest. The period of April 29-May 5 marks the fall of the Munich area (elements proceed to Berchtesgaden in this time frame) to the U.S. 7th Army in particular.

If you put in Munich photos at the Getty picture site and wade through them with the modifier` David e. Scherman', you find several previews that are not really labeled but quite recognizable to the familiar eye. A surprising one is Hitler's flat simply labeled "apartment". The Burgerbraukeller is identified, but you also see ruins of the Braun Haus anonymously visible from the Temple buildings.

On April 28th 1945 the 42nd Division and the 45th Division of the 7th Army close on and find the horrors of Dachau. (Many accounts put the capture on the 29th, but the records of the 157th Regiment make clear for them they arrive late the 28th. On the evening of April 29th, the 157th Infantry Regiment is on the outskirts of Munich, 20 km from Dachau. The next day, by late afternoon Munich has fallen after some pockets of resistance wiped out - the 45th Division record gives the time as 2200 hours the city was considered secured. The same source is explicit that after there was a race to capture the most choice quarters to lodge in and that elements of the 42nd and 45th Divisions indeed captured Munich on the 30th, Hitler's birthday. Most importantly, Lt.Colonel William P. Grace is the commanding officer of 179th Infantry Regiment and Hitler's flat at Prinzregentplatz became his Command Post either late April 30 or May 1 (haven't found a specific yet). The 45th Division leaves Munich on June 12th, after the 45th Division was transferred from the Seventh Army to Patton's Third Army, and the command post setup in Freidburg 20 km away.

The famous woman photographer Lee Miller and David E. Schernan had come with the 42nd and just left photographing Dachau hours before when they arrive at Prinzregentenplatz and the 179th Regiment's Command Post on the late afternoon of May 1. They spend the night there, and that is when she has her famous bath and takes the series of photos of several parts of the apartment. Curiously enough, Miller says she is told by one "Frau Gardner" that Anni Winter had fled three days before. Yet this same person photographed as Frau Gardner is often labeled as Anni Winter herself! (Was she pretending to be someone else or had really left?) More on that minor mystery later.

The next day, they leave and with the help of an old German who denies any real politics but seems to know where everything is (this is noticed) leads them to one major location after another. (This is how Lee Miller also ends up at Eva Braun's abandoned house, and is taking the pictures below of the Braukeller and Königsplatz and Hofbrauhaus.) This is the context of these snaps. Lee Miller's book (Getty captions are not using it) gives some interesting details which have added to each. It mentions the upper part of the Hofbrauhaus blown open by bombs. Afterward, the photographers will arrive late in the evening at the still burning Berghof after it is fired on May 4 and still burning.*
* This date is a little imprecise. Lee Miller mentions being there when hears the surrender signed. But she arrived in time to see the "fire set by the SS" coming from the windows of the chalet. Taken as written, it suggests the evening of May 4.

https://www.gettyimages.com/

Burgerbraukeller being looted. Lee Miller commented that a division had just pulled out of it, and civilians and pillagers started swarming in undisturbed. Presumably carting off what beer remained and anything else. This is on May 2 as they begin to tour the ruined city.
Munich-1.jpg
This view is interesting for showing the street facade. Not captioned at Getty images, this in fact the Burgerbraukeller during the May 2 looting as well.
Munich-10.jpg
Troops of the 42nd Division painting their rainbow emblem on the entrance. Their guide mentioned three entrances.
Munich-7.jpg
A very interesting revelation is that there was initially a major NSDAP Archive created out of modern bunkers under the Burgerbraukeller. It was filled with all kinds of things. Lee Miller tried to get a guard posted here, but it didn't work out. Two days later she found broken pipes had started to flood it, refugees were warming themselves with fires using documents and records, and overall the contents were well on the way to being destroyed and strewn to the wind.
Munich-8.jpg
(More to follow)
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Last edited by palaisfan on 04 May 2021 03:38, edited 1 time in total.

palaisfan
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Posts: 234
Joined: 17 Jan 2009 20:31

Re: Fall of Munich - May 1945 Hitler's flat and others

Post by palaisfan » 04 May 2021 00:29

Continuing with some Lee Miller descriptions of "Lee Miller's War" matched to photos of the same moment:
"The Hofbrau Haus was famous before Hitler was a corporal in the last war...The large hall at the top with the mural of ancient Munich, was blown open to the sky, the floor had rolling curves like sickmaking oily sea...The hall entrance down below was piled up with chairs at the top of which was a forgotten Nazi banner, the only trace of Hitler symbolism left in the place."
It goes on to say the ground floor beer hall, after the 157th Regiment evacuated now had a few civilians eating looted cheese and drinking beer left out by the soldiers.

This is the inner garden of the battered Hofbrauhaus. Next, front facade.
Murnich-2.jpg
Munich-9.jpg
View from the Honor Temples -- though unlabeled, this appears to be the shattered Braun Haus. Its in the right location and explains why you don't hear much of it being explored or looted. Its in hardly better condition than Goebbels' Ministry in Berlin. Lee Miller doesn't mention it, perhaps it was unrecognized.
Munich-6.jpg
Closer view just outside the ruins.
Munich-5.jpg
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Last edited by palaisfan on 04 May 2021 14:45, edited 1 time in total.

palaisfan
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Posts: 234
Joined: 17 Jan 2009 20:31

Re: Fall of Munich - May 1945 Hitler's flat and others

Post by palaisfan » 04 May 2021 04:25

As end here some of the Eva Braun house elements were already discussed on the thread dedicated to her house. Here it is enough to say that the German guide apparently tipped off Lee Miller and David Scherman about the identity of Eva's house and they saw and photographed it during that tour first week of May 1945. Its not clear if the 179th Regiment men themselves ever ended up there. Another building toured was the Sterneckerbrauhaus.

Concluding this distillation of the first week in Munich, contrast the state of the structures above with this one. Uncaptioned, this is in fact Hitler's apartment flat at Prinzregentenstrasse No.16. It appeared to be almost entirely intact, ironically untouched by bombing. (Even Eva Braun's house was apparently nicked by some fragments).

This picture below is interesting because it shows that the window of the second floor just to the left of the right edge of the photo that is not off-frame appears to be nearly completely shuttered off. This is the room that is likely to be Geli Raubal's bedroom because the next window to your left is the window to the Library and then you come to the two bay windows of the Living Room and Study with door out to the balcony between them. It is not the only window so shuttered however.
Munich-3.jpg

Now finish with a bit of puzzle or Gordian knot for posters better informed on personalities here to toy with. Just wanted to highlight it as it seems to have gone unnoticed.

As already mentioned in first post, Lee Miller and David Scherman arrived the afternoon of May 1 at the 179th Regiment command post that was already set up within the flat. It is here that the peculiar discrepancy about Frau Anni Winter arises. A partial quote of what Lee Miller has to say about the occupants of the apartment truly raises eyebrows. See what you all think:
"On the ground floor lived a German woman who had British nationality by marriage. Her parents lived there for 20 years and had died last year.{1944}. Frau Gardner spoke excellent English and I chivvied her into taking me on interviewing tour...Her cook had been there when it was an ordinary apartment house and Hitler a lodger...the owners of the flat were Rhineland manufacturers...Hitler's ideas appealed to them and they were on better terms than landlord and tenant."

"By 1929 He had taken over the whole apartment himself and had installed Herr and Frau Winter in it to housekeep. The Winters were vulgar and disagreeable; even Hitler found Frau Winter insupportable, but for some unknown reason he kept them on. She beat the servants and had drunken brawls which ended in scenes and fights....Three days before the fall of the city the Winters packed up and left. Frau Winter locked the extensive air-raid shelters, telling the servants and other tenants of the building that if she had fifty gallons of gasoline she'd set the building on fire with them in it. Hitler bought the whole building and finished redecorating his apartment, the way it stands now, in 1935 on his birthday, April 20."
The above is as Lee Miller described things after arriving May 1, 1945 and spending the night. One comment important to emphasize is how accurate "Frau Gardner's" descriptions to Lee Miller were, and far from common knowledge. That Hitler's apartment was renovated and the work completed in April 1935. That is in Despina Stratigakos book `Hitler at Home' but even it didn't give the birthday date which rings true. So whoever she was, she was really an insider or resident indeed with some precise knowledge.

Lee Miller even photographed this `Frau Gardner'. Now comes the knot: Oddly enough, Frau Gardner is often labeled as Anni Winter herself in a very familiar similar photo common on the Internet. Do any know if this is her? She resembles somewhat closely a definite Anni Winter interview by Michael Musmanno.

Frau-Gardner-per-LeeMiller-thumbs.jpg
https://www.leemiller.co.uk/

Yet you commonly see this very similar photo labeled as Anni Winter - clearly in the same location, the desk nook in the library with the cup of King George VI on it. Here's an example that comes right up:
http://www.usmbooks.com/hitler_memorabilia.html

Here is snap of Anni Winter interview with Michael Musmanno shortly after the war. Its the only thing know of where can be sure it is her for comparisons.
Anni-Winter-best-face-vlcsnap--19h30m49s240 .jpg
vlcsnap-19h26m11s93.jpg
So was Frau Gardner even real, or a pose by Anni Winter and she is actually there during the apartment occupation for a time? Quite a story if true considering what it would mean she had told about herself making her look so bad. Or had Winter already left just as "Frau Gardner" claimed and they are different women. Interesting puzzle is it not.

There are a few more nuggets of info if have questions,

Thoughts?

- Palaisfan
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