After spending virtually a yr combating throughout France, Holland, and Germany, throughout World War II, one hard-bitten unit of Army paratroopers celebrated the finish of the warfare in the most becoming means potential: By taking in some unimaginable alpine views whereas guzzling down certainly one of the largest collections of alcohol in the world – and one owned by Hitler himself, mere days after the dictator’s dying.
Anyone who has seen HBO’s Band of Brothers is aware of that Easy Company and the remainder of the 506th Parachute Infantry Regiment ended the warfare occupying Berchtesgaden, house of Adolf Hitler’s “Eagle’s Nest” mountain villa. The city was additionally a de-facto second headquarters for the Nazi authorities. As Allied forces approached Berchtesgaden, every unit close by vied for the alternative to be the first to grab the city, and the status that might include being the first to occupy Hitler’s Nazi getaway in the mountains. However, the story behind that operation, like many tales from warfare, is a little more difficult than the narrative we get on display.
On the morning of May 4, 1945, there have been three items – the seventh Infantry Regiment of the third Infantry division, the French 2nd Armored Division and the 506th PIR – in place to enter Berchtesgaden. While the one hundred and first Airborne and the French items had been given the honor of getting into Berchtesgaden first, the third Infantry Division operated on a “ask for forgiveness not permission” precept and despatched two battalions to capture the town, encountering little resistance alongside the means.
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How many members of the seventh Infantry Regiment made it to the Eagle’s Nest, at the finish of a protracted, winding street on a mountain peak overlooking the city, is debatable, as they didn’t find yourself staying for very lengthy. The subsequent day, as the 506th PIR and French items had been getting into the city, the seventh Infantry Regiment was already making ready to maneuver on. Not fully empty-handed, although, as the unit was apparently in a position to load up on 6,000 bottles from Hermann Goering’s private wine cellar.
It did set the stage for the 506th PIR’s 2nd Battalion, together with Easy Company of Band of Brothers-fame, to extra formally occupy Berchtesgaden and its environs for the subsequent a number of days as the warfare in Europe ended.
While the army advanced on the slope beneath the villa had been bombed, the Eagle’s Nest itself had escaped any injury, which meant loads of alternatives for the 2nd Battalion and Easy Company to make their means as much as Hitler’s former mountain retreat and soak up a few of the greatest views the Bavarian Alps needed to supply. (Hitler himself had died just some days prior on April 30, of a self-inflicted gunshot wound in a bunker in Berlin.)
And with views like this, there have been loads of different high-ranking Nazi officers – Goering included – who had constructed their very own absolutely stocked mountain villas. Which provided loads of alternatives for the males of the battalion to liberate some very dear bottles of booze from Nazi cellars, which is how this photo got here to be.
Now, there’s some query as as to whether this particular photo, exhibiting Maj. Richard Winters, Cpt. Lewis Nixon, and Lt. Harry Welsh, was taken at the Eagle’s Nest itself or one other villa in Berchtesgaden. But, contemplating the battalion was in the strategy of working its means by way of the largest stash of booze in Europe – Nixon apparently reserved 5 truckloads for the officers of the battalion, together with the ones seen right here – it’s not exhausting to conclude that it was merely marked “Eagle’s Nest.” After all, it wouldn’t be an excellent story with out a little exaggeration.
So, for certainly one of the most iconic items in the Army’s historical past, we salute certainly one of the most iconic photographs of the finish of World War II: Battle-hardened paratroopers commemorating their victory by smiling and consuming atop the Third Reich’s alpine headquarters.