Once again we are glad to publish an excerpt from 'Insula - Island of Hope'. This particular excerpt was written by John and Ventis Plume. At the end of the article there is a link to another article about Berchtesgaden written by Andris Spura
R.P. BenDedek Email: email@example.com
One a spring morning, a young boy stood on the outskirts of the small village Bavarian village, near Bad Aibling. He heard a steady roar above. He looked up and saw dozens and dozens airplanes flying overhead. The sky, filled with large airplanes, and it was an awesome spectacle for all the younger children who milled excitedly around him. Neither of them knew what so many airplanes meant. All they knew that airplanes meant bombs followed by loud explosions, and air raid shelters. He did not remember the date only the many airplanes. Only after many years he learned what so many airplanes being in the air meant.
|RAF Lancaster bomber passes over the Obersalzberg compound Hitler's Berghof is near center bottom of the photo. A bomb hit is visible in left wing of the residence. It received at least two direct hits, but most bombers missed their main target. The third objective, the Eagle's Nest on top of Kehlstein was not hit during the bombing. The structure was built in 1938 for Hitler's 50th birthday. Today it is a tourist attraction.|
The date was April 25, 1945 when the RAF Lancaster bombers were flying to bomb the Hitler's Berghof and other Nazi leader's homes in the Alps near Berchtesgaden a small town dating back to 1120. It was a historic retreat for Bavarian kings for centuries.
British Royal Air Force organized the mission including the Polish squadron of 300 airmen. The mission included 359 bombers from three bomber groups; 13 RAF squadrons of Mustangs and 98 of these aircraft from the US 8th AF flew escort for the bombers.
The British Air Force summarized the mission on April 25 as follows:
"The wave of excitement swept through the squadron when it was learned that the 300 would get to bomb Hitler's mountain retreat. The war--the outcome of which deeply disappointed Poles--was nearly over and to be able to unload on the hated Nazi leader's den was like winning a consolation prize, a tasty dessert after a mediocre dinner.
Since it was of very small importance strategically, Berchtesgaden was a political target. There was some talk at the German High Command about the "last stand" in the Harz Mountains, but nobody believed in it except few fanatics. Berchtesgaden was a target that everybody wanted.
Berchtesgaden lay in a tight valley and within its limits was the Schloss (an ancient castle) used as a priory, then as a retreat for Bavarian kings. There were three objectives for this raid:
1. SS guard barracks, residence of SS Chief Spahn, and main control center and administration headquarters;
2. Eagle's Nest on summit of Kehlstein, some 9,300 feet above sea level, and
3. Berghof, Hitler's chalet and adjacent buildings at Obersalzberg within few miles of Berchtesgaden."
Even with good weather, some aircraft missed their targets because of their approach over mountains. Anti-aircraft batteries located on surrounding mountains and hilltops did minor damages to the bombers.
|In center is Hotel "Zum Turken," beyond is the Berghof. City of Berchtesgaden is hidden by slope on the left. In left background forested mountain is Silberg which had flak site installations. Insula is at the base of Silberg Mountain.|
U.S. Troops Arrive in Berchtesgaden
"On the morning of 4 May, when the troops of U.S. Third Infantry Division crossed into Landkreis (County) of Berchtesgaden, its Landrat, (Councilman) Emil Jacob, the most important official had left. Even the local party leaders, the Kreisleiter and the Ortsgruppenleiter, had also taken to the mountains. At two o'clock in the afternoon, Jacob drove in his car to meet the Americans and surrender the town. Detachment I3G3, under Capt. R. A. Bryand, arrived the next morning and suffered the only casualties known to have been incurred in Berchtesgaden: two men were injured when a time bomb exploded in one of the Kreis headquarters offices. Berchtesgaden would have been just a small town with some fine scenery had it not been for two reminders of the past--the Adlerhorst (Eagle's Nest), Hitler's elaborate guest house on the Kehlstein, reached by an elevator run through a 400-foot copper-lined tunnel in the mountain; and the Berghof, Hitler's home on the Obersalzberg, now bombed, burned, and looted--an appropriate monument to the third Reich."
War Ends in Europe V-E Day May 8, 1945
|(Courtesy of The Herald Press, St. Joseph, Michigan)|
- For another excerpt on Berchtesgaden see the article below at Kingscalendar. That article is published with original text i.e. non-English names and may not therefore be convenient for some computers to read.
Berchtesgaden Before Insula (Island of Hope)
by Andris E. Spura
December 18, 2013
From Riga we traveled by freight car to Skrunda, in Western Latvia, where my mother's friend, Regina Ginters lived (wife of Arnolds Janis Ginters, DVM). We were there only until October 11, because the front was approaching from the south and the Russians flew air raids every night. We traveled to Liepaja, at the western coast of Latvia. Just a day or so after we arrived, we were walking near the harbor at ten o'clock in the morning. Quite unexpectedly, a member of the Tautas Palidziba (Help to the People) offered us a "number" (a free ticket) for a ship that was sailing at 1:00 p.m. for Germany. Three hours later, we were on our way.
|Berchtesgaden in Winter|
Book Title: Insula - Island of Hope
Book Pages: 453
Ventis Plume and John Plume, Editors
I hope you have enjoyed this excerpt from Insula - Island of Hope
Excerpts and photographs from 'Insula - Island of Hope' already published at Magic City include:
December 10, 2013 Ernst Vahi recalls departure: Excerpt from Insula - Island of Hope
November 23, 2013 Photographs of WWII Refugee Camps (Latvian Insula)
November 17, 2013 Photograph of the Week: Men's volleyball team at Insula in 1946
November 17, 2013 Twin Sisters, Many Journeys: Excerpt from 'Insula - Island of Hope'
November 16, 2013 Stories of WWII Latvian Refugees (at Kingscalendar.com)
November 10, 2013 Photograph of the Week: Insula - Island of Hope
November 10, 2013 Insula Began in Bruckmuhl (Excerpt from 'Insula - Island of Hope')
November 3, 2013 Photograph of the Week: Watercolors of Insula by Leo Trinkuns (1899-1948)
November 3, 2013 Forward to Insula - Island of Hope by Dr. Vaira Vike-Freiberga
October 27, 2013 New Book about Latvians Displaced by World War II