Sealed Off Heritage: Navigating Hitler’s Bunker in Postwar Berlin

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Scholarly debates about the ‘difficult heritage’ associated with National Socialism typically rest with the preservation, memorialisation or eradication of the visible remains of the Third Reich. Heritage, though, is more than a tangible place or object. It is also a process of social and cultural engagement where acts of remembrance (or concealment) reflect contemporary politics and social values. The tension between a distinct sense of historical place and the present-day reality of a voided landscape is illustrated keenly through a case study of Adolf Hitler’s Berlin Führerbunker. Despite being physically absent from today's cityscape, Hitler's bunker has long generated both concern about the potential for becoming a Neo-Nazi pilgrimage site, and curiosity among international tourists, keen to see where the Nazi dictator met his end. Tracing tourist activity since 1945, and exploring recurring efforts to contain, destroy or expose the site, this article posits that the Führerbunker has become an effective countermemorial, its very absence from the contemporary cityscape sparking public discussions among visitors and fostering a critical, grassroots reflection upon the challenges of handling legacies of dictatorship.
Original languageEnglish
JournalJournal of Contemporary History
Publication statusPublished - 14 Mar 2023


  • Berlin
  • Difficult Heritage
  • Führerbunker
  • Hitler, Adolf
  • Tourism

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