Allied military intelligence indicated Adolf Hitler had built an underground Alpine fortress to house “the elite of Nazi Germany” in a desperate, final stand in World War II, according to documents released today.
Intelligence reports from 1944 and 1945, the last two years of the war, suggested that leading Nazis would seek refuge from an allied invasion of Germany in a vast underground network of tunnels and caves in a “Nazi National Redoubt” hidden within the Austrian Alps, the secret files published by the U.K.’s National Archives in London showed.
The hideout was believed to have enough capacity, food and munitions to supply about 60,000 men for two years, according to the files. The reports described those who would take refuge there as “war criminals,” “Nazi fanatics” and “those with nothing to lose.”
History proved the intelligence wrong. As the war approached its climax and Russian troops bore down on Berlin, Hitler remained in the German capital, refusing to flee the city for the south. The Nazi leader committed suicide in his bunker on April 30, 1945, and Germany capitulated a week later.
From their hideout, the Nazis would coordinate resistance groups worldwide, using propaganda, sabotage and bribery, while the Nazis had established specialist training schools to prepare soldiers for mountain warfare, the intelligence indicated.
“The chief importance of the reduit will be as a center for directing the activities of the pro-Nazi and fascist elements in all European countries, and particularly Germany,” the U.S. Office of Strategic Services, a precursor to the Central Intelligence Agency, said in the files.
“A small number of politically minded overoptimists” were relying on ideological and commercial differences between the Allies and their continuing war against Japan to cause the assault on Germany to falter, the document said. Heinrich Himmler, the head of the SS, was a prime example of those who believed that the redoubt had a chance of success.