Kehlstein sits at the top of a high mountain, built as a retreat for Hitler just before the outbreak of the second world war. We were very interested in the history of the place having recently watched the final episode of the TV series “Band of Brothers” in which the Allies capture Kehlstein, calling it “The final prize”.
The road to Kehlstein is restricted to official tour buses. The bus ride costs €15.50 return per person, including a ride in the elevator. We opted instead to walk to the summit, a climb of 850m over several kilometres of steep roads. As we walked we discussed how strange it felt to be on a road reserved exclusively for the top nazi leaders during the war.
The walk took us two and a half hours and was well worth the effort as beautiful forests slowly gave way to incredible views of the surrounding villages. It’s easy to see why Hitler favoured Kehlstein with its magnificent vistas.
Any sense of history we were feeling was quickly shattered when we finally reached the top. The building has been turned into a large restaurant and souvenir shop. A handful of photos on a wall, and a short documentary looping on a small TV are all that is depicted about Kehlstein’s past.
I was browsing through the postcards when a lady next to me picked out a specimen that highlighted perfectly just how disappointingly commercialised the trip has become. It was a picture of the bus going up the road with “bus of the year 2009” written across the bottom.