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The Times
Tuesday, June 26, 2001

[Picture added by this website]

For sale: Hitler's Berlin bunker

from Roger Boyes
in Berlin

THE ownership of Hitler's bunker looks likely to pass to a Jewish group that intends to sell the site on the open market. Most of the proceeds will go to the American-based heirs of the Wertheim department store dynasty, which was forced to sell its land to the Nazis.

Martin BormannThe bunker complex, close to the British Embassy in Berlin, is unmarked lest neo- Nazis use it as a place of pilgrimage. Informed sources say that the agency in charge of restitution of disputed East German property has ruled in favour of handing over the land to the Jewish Claims Conference, which represents the German interests of Holocaust victims.

Part of the bunker complex was built on land that the Wertheim family was forced to sell at well below market prices. Martin Bormann, [left] Hitler's administrative chief, was determined to expand the Chancellery and wallowed up several buildings in the area of the Wilhelmstrasse.

Hitler's personal bunker was partially blown up by the Soviet Army and the rubble used to build war memorials. After 1961 the communists built the Berlin Wall across the western edge of the site and the East-West border fortifications ran through the former grounds of Hitler's Chancellery.

After the Berlin Wall was pulled down in 1989, Karstadt Quelle -- which had taken over Wertheim -- lodged a claim for the land, aware that it would become a prime site in the new heart of the German capital. Lawyers for Barbara Principe, one of the chief Wertheim heirs, argue, however, that the family was essentially cheated out of its property after the war: it was paid barely $9,000 for various chunks of Berlin real estate.

Karstadt has now abandoned its attempt to take over the bunker, and there seems to be no serious obstacle to the Jewish Claims Conference securing the blighted territory.

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