Rare photos of Hitler’s Bunker

Recently, Life Magazine published an intriguing, yet somewhat horrible, set of previously unpublished photos of Hitler’s last bunker at “Hitler’s Bunker and the Ruins of Berlin: Rare and Unpublished Photos.”

Viewing these photos, it reminds me of the exceptional 2004 film, Downfall (Der Untergang) directed by Oliver Hirschbiegel.

The story of the photographer was especially interesting to me.

“Vandivert was the first Western photographer to gain access to Hitler’s Führerbunker, or “shelter for the leader,” after the fall of Berlin, and a handful of his pictures of the bunker and the ruined city were published in LIFE magazine in July 1945. A few of those images are republished here; most of the pictures in this gallery, however, were never published in LIFE and vividly illustrate the surreal, disturbing scenes Vandivert encountered in the bunker and in the streets of the vanquished city beyond the bunker’s walls.

In his typed notes to his editors in New York, Vandivert described in detail what he saw. For example, of the sixth slide in this gallery, he wrote, “Pix of [correspondents] looking at sofa where Hitler and Eva shot themselves. Note bloodstains on arm of soaf [sic] where Eva bled. She was seated at far end … Hitler sat in middle and fell forward, did not bleed on sofa. This is in Hitler’s sitting room.” Remarkable stuff — but, it turns out, it’s only about half right. Historians are now quite certain that Braun committed suicide by biting a cyanide capsule, rather than by gunshot — meaning the bloodstains on the couch might well be Hitler’s after all.

…William Vandivert — who at 6 ft. 5 in. held the distinction of being the tallest photographer on staff — shot for LIFE from the late 1930s through the late ’40s. In 1947 he joined Robert Capa, Henri Cartier-Bresson, George Rodger and David “Chim” Seymour in founding the legendary Magnum photo agency. (Rita Vandivert, his wife, served as Magnum’s first president.) William Vandivert died in 1992.” (Life Magazine)

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