Pete's random thoughts

Friday, May 09, 2008

Italy to Germany to New Hampshire

Every family has something cool stashed away in the attic, the cellar, or in a box buried in the closet. Some neat little piece of history. Last week, Earl brought in a piece of rock to show us that his father had given him. Without the story behind it and the piece of masking tape identifying it, it would be just another chunk of marble. It is more than just a rock, however, it is a piece of history.

Here is a picture of the rock. (use you browser's BACK button to return here) Without the story, it's just a cool looking piece of marble, right? But...where has this marble been?

In on April 20th, 1939, a magnificent mountain house was given as a 50th birthday gift to Adolf Hitler. We know it today as the "Eagle's Nest". There is much info about it on the internet, so I won't go into too much detail about it here.

Benito Mussolini's gift on Hitler's birthday was an Italian marble fireplace. Apparently there was enough marble left over from the project to also build a doorway out of the same material. A gift from one dictator to another.

Of course, the Allied powers crushed the 3rd Reich, and eventually it was American GIs that were partying in Hitler's beautiful mountain retreat. Eventually the Eagle's Nest became a museum, and a function hall. You can still tour it today.

In 1952, Earl's Dad was a GI stationed in Germany. At some point, he managed to tour the Eagle's Nest. The tour guide showed him Eve Braun's bedroom, the great hall, the sun porch overlooking the valley below, and the fancy marble fireplace. When the guide wasn't looking, he scooped up a large piece of rubble from the fireplace and stashed it down his pants. GIs love souvenirs. Now, the chunk of Hitler's fireplace that was originally a gift from Mussolini himself resides here in NH, one of those little oddball pieces of history that will be passed down in a family.

Here is the back of the rock, with the story of what it is written on a piece of tape.

and here is a webpage that shows some very clear pieces of the fireplace. There is one photo showing GIs sitting in front of it in 1945, and another, current photo. As you can see, there are a few large chunks of marble missing. We know where one of them is!

Page about the Eagle's Nest fireplace: