A taboo-busting reminder of Adolf Hitler’s life has popped up in Germany’s capital with the opening of a new exhibit — a replica of the Nazi dictator’s bunker.
The “Berlin Story Bunker” re-creates a section of Hitler’s 3,000-square-foot underground living space near the end of World War II.
It includes copies of furniture, a portrait of Frederick the Great, Hitler’s favorite Prussian leader, a small desk that holds a miniature brass statue of Hitler’s dog Blondi and an iron oxygen bottle with a mask.
The original custom-made “Fuehrerbunker” built in 1944 about a mile away was encased in a 13-foot-thick concrete shell and buried 30 feet underground.
It was designed to keep Hitler safe from bombings by Allied Air Forces and Soviet artillery pummeling Berlin late in World War II.
It’s also where he committed suicide in 1945 after finally accepting that his Nazi Germany was about to lose the war.
The bunker was partly destroyed after the war ended in 1945, closed off to the public in the no-man’s land east of the Berlin Wall in Communist East Germany before ultimately being sealed in the early 1990s in the aftermath of German reunification.
Authorities did not want the location turning into a shrine for neo-Nazis.
Bristling at criticism that they might be glorifying Hitler and the infamous hole in the ground where his newlywed bride, Eva Braun, poisoned herself before he shot himself on April 30, 1945, the creators of the Fuehrerbunker replica insist that it is designed to be educational.
“A lot of people have a difficult-to-define fascination with Hitler and his bunker,” Enno Lenze, one of the organizers of the privately funded exhibit, said in an interview after a recent tour.
“It’s a peculiar combination of voyeurism, a curiosity about separating the facts from fiction where Hitler killed himself, and a genuine interest in the history of what it felt like where the Third Reich essentially ended.”
Although Germans have meticulously studied the causes, horrors and aftermath of the Nazi regime, precious few seemed to have any particular interest in knowing precisely where the reviled Hitler’s bunker was located.
Yet local officials say many foreign tourists have been curious about where the bunker and the Berlin Wall were.
The disappointment was palpable for many that there was no monument, no memorial and nothing to mark the spot where the Third Reich ended until a small plaque was put up in 2006.
Over the last 25 years, a growing number of small representative sections of the Berlin Wall — which was almost entirely torn down in haste in 1989 and 1990 — were rebuilt for tourists?
It seemed to be a question of time before something about the bunker was added to the city’s list of tourist attractions.