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World - Europe

Berliners debate what to do with Hitler's bunker

From Berlin Bureau Chief Chris Burns


October 15, 1999
Web posted at: 6:12 p.m. EDT (2212 GMT)

BERLIN (CNN) -- Construction workers digging the foundation for a government building in Berlin have exposed steel reinforcing rods from the roof of a bunker that helped protect Adolph Hitler from Allied bombs during World War II.

The question now is, what to do with these ruins?

Soviet forces seized the bunker at the end of World War II. Moscow claimed to have cremated Hitler's body after he committed suicide, and the location of the ashes is unknown.

VideoBerlin Bureau Chief Chris Burns looks at the debate over what to do with Hitler's bunker
Windows Media 28K 80K

Unable to destroy the bunker with dynamite, the Soviets covered it up. It remained in the "no man's" land along the Berlin wall until unification put it in the middle of a building boom.

Everyone in Berlin knows where to find Hitler's bunker. But this week's accidental unearthing of it has rekindled a debate: Do you keep it buried, destroy it or excavate it and possibly find answers to the mystery of Hitler's final days?

A former soldier who worked as a telephone operator in the bunker, Rochus Misch, says the site shouldn't be covered up.

Misch, who worked as a telephone operator in Hitler's bunker, says the bunker should be exposed for others to see  

"No. This is history. It should be left open. This is where the Nazi era happened and where Hitler died. And it should be left out in the open, for all the world to see," he says.

Some Jewish community leaders want an archaeological dig at the bunker before it is covered back up to prevent the site from becoming a neo-Nazi shrine. But others disagree.

"My opinion is simply blow the thing up, scatter the ashes and be done with it," said Berliner Lea Rosh.

German officials have dealt with former Nazi sites in different ways. The bunker of propaganda minister Joseph Goebbels will be covered by the planned Holocaust monument.

The foundation of Gestapo headquarters, on the other hand, is part of an exhibit titled "Topography of Terror."

More of that topography, and the debate over what to do with it, is likely to turn up as Berlin rebuilds on what were the ashes of the Third Reich.

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The ITA Pressroom/U.S. Efforts to Seek Justice for Victims of the Holocaust
The History Place - The Rise of Adolf Hitler
The Avalon Project : The International Military Tribunal
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