Of all the things you could discover in the woods, one of Hitler's bunkers is in the top three creepiest options. This is exactly what happened to a photographer / urban explorer named Marc Askat during an expedition through some woods in northern France.
Askat stumbled upon this bunker while looking for things to photograph. He certainly found some interesting subject matter. It is believed that this building was one of the last bunkers Hitler used during the War. It was likely where Hitler planned the invasion of Britain.
The bunker, which sits at an as-yet still undisclosed location, is as creepy on the inside as it is on the outside. Askat published many photos of his spooky trek through the bunker, that are both of historical interest and fodder for making your skin crawl.
Marc Askat was no stranger to WWII finds. On a previous expedition, he found and photographed a WWII-era hospital that he found by following clues in soldiers' journals he had access to. He's also found numerous other WWII relics. The bunker was a more impressive find, though, as it was apparently so far off any beaten path.
Hunting season is not the ideal time to be tromping around in a remote part of the French countryside. His risk paid off, though. Askat spotted a dilapidated concrete building and investigated. He found a large outdoor swimming pool, which he later learned would have been shielded from aerial view by a huge tarp.
The building's origin and purpose weren't obvious from the outside, so Askat sought an entryway. He found this door, which he was able to open. It looks foreboding, to say the least.
Inside the bunker, Askat discovered a staggering six miles of rooms and connecting tunnels. The network sits, at its deepest point, 100 feet underground. There was a lot of ground to cover. Many of the walls bore lettering.
General scholarly consensus places the bunker as Hitler's last headquarters established outside of German borders. He likely used the bunker as a strategic HQ for his plans to invade Great Britain.
The bunker's formal name was "Führerhauptquartier Wolfsschlucht II." A coterie of high-ranking officers also dwelt here with Hitler. As huge as it was, it was only one of ten such bunkers the Nazis used during the War.
The ceiling has decayed, and streaks of rust now decorate the bunker's walls. These scenes would be unsettling in any context, but knowing that these halls were walked by Adolph Hitler makes them all the more disturbing.
What looks like an empty medicine cabinet adorns one of the walls of this especially creepy room. Was it an infirmary? Whatever it was, it looks like something right out of a survival horror video game.
This sign is a reminder that the Nazis conducted their occupation of the nation with the collusion of many French collaborators. During the War, southern France remained unoccupied until November of 1942, at which point the southern "Vichy" government became a puppet of the Nazis.
Although the bunker was abandoned, there was still a smattering of belongings inside. Among the debris of the decaying bunker, Askat found a few old canisters and personal effects.
The underground rooms and passageways were reinforced with very thick cement. There were also heavy metal doors to seal off many of the rooms, to be locked in case of an Allied raid on the compound.
Askat was thrilled with his discovery. He published the photos of his expedition to Facebook. People were fascinated by the find, but were also puzzled by the fact that the bunker's location wasn't listed. Turns out, the situation was more complicated than a mere lucky discovery.
Had Askat been the first person to find the bunker, he, alone, almost certainly would not have been able to get inside, considering the heavy doors. Turns out, the bunker was being actively used for training exercises by the French Foreign Legion. Hence the secrecy regarding the compound's location.
Although Askat wasn't the first person to enter the bunker after the War, he was the first to publish photographs of it. They are both of historical and (eerie) aesthetic value.
It is, perhaps, preferable that the bunker's location remain secret. Otherwise, there would be an influx of curiosity seekers to the area. If history is any indication, sensitive historical sites and tourists don't mix well. Of course, French Foreign Legion soldiers stomping through it probably doesn't do it any favors, either.
The Nazis constructed the bunker in such a remote place not only out of fear of an Allied raid, but to avoid the French Resistance. The Resistance raged against the Nazis and their Vichy surrogates throughout the German occupation. Although Jews only constituted 1% of the population of France, they constituted about 20% of the Resistance ranks.
In 1986, East Germany made plans to demolish a site of historical interest in order to make room for a new apartment complex. Beneath the site was the Führerbunker, where Hitler shot himself at the end of the War, as well as an old air raid shelter built by the foreign ministry and the "Neue Reichskanzlei," or New Reich Chancellery. A man named Robert Conrad photographed the site in the midst of its demolition, under great personal risk.
Conrad began photographing the subterranean ruins in 1987, while disguised as a construction worker. He risked arrest and death by explosion to capture the images, which weren't published until recently. The photos are truly chilling.
This is a photograph of the Vorbunker, an air-raid shelter built to be used by Hitler and his entourage. In 1936, it was built behind the reception hall added onto the Reich Chancellery in Berlin. In 1934, the complex was expanded with the Führerbunker, built one level under the Vorbunker.
This photo shows Robert Conrad posing in the Führerbunker in 1988. This is the site where Hitler shot himself at the close of the War.
The bunker under the New Reich Chancellery was uncovered in 1987 while demolition was underway to clear space for an apartment complex. Hitler commissioned the New Reich Chancellery to be built in 1938, as the old Reich Chancellery was no longer adequate.
These safes, overgrown with rust, were photographed by Conrad in a room of the New Reich Chancellery in 1988.
The unearthing of the Nazi bunkers in Berlin was not publicized in the East German press. Says Conrad, "Of course there was nothing in the newspapers about the Nazi bunkers. That was very much a taboo subject, as was everything about the Nazi period. Officially, they were just constructing a new residential neighborhood."
"I didn't go to the bunkers hunting for relics or out of some secret admiration for the Nazi regime." He did it out of a sense of duty to document their architecture. He also did so under great personal risk of losing his freedom.
This photo, taken by Conrad in 1988, shows a flooded Führerbunker. An entrance to a staircase can be found on the left. Rubble from the bunker, which was badly damaged, can be seen on the right.
This photo from a construction site shows buildings from the Nazi Ministry of Public Enlightenment and Propaganda, which were not bombed in the War. During the waning days of WWII, Joseph Goebbels and his family withdrew from the Ministry to Hitler's nearby bunker.
Destroyed electrical system components inside the New Reich Chancellery bunker. Conrad sacrificed technique for speed in his photography. If he got caught, he would likely have been arrested and harshly punished.
As well as sneaking photos of the inside of the bunkers during demolition, he also photographed the proceedings from the exterior. A plume of smoke billows out of the site of an explosion, meant to clear the site for construction.
"My greatest fear was that they would assume I was trying to escape," reports Conrad. "As far as I knew, parts of the labyrinth of bunkers ran along under the Wall and even extended into the death strip." Death strip refers to a heavily guarded partition between East and West Berlin.
This photograph shows the Führerbunker in the midst of its destruction. The hole in the foreground leads to the bunker's western exit.
An exposed section of bunker, with the former Nazi Ministry of Public Enlightenment and Propaganda and another formerly Nazi building, then an East German state publisher, in the background.
In front of the VW, we see part of one of the bunkers. In the background, you can see temporary construction buildings erected for the demolition project. Beyond that, the Berlin Wall.
Conrad wound up paying a price for his commitment to the project. He was actually caught five different times. He lost something like a dozen rolls of film to confiscation.
The blasting cleared a large space for the new apartment complex to be constructed. At cost of destroying massively historically significant relics of WWII. The East German government was apparently glad to be rid of them.
When the demolition crew took down a part of Hitler's bunker that had been constructed earlier than the others, they discovered very thin concrete. The light in this photo suggests that the demolition effort took place at night as well as during daylight hours.
This model shows a recreated Führerbunker. A replica of the bunker opened in 2016, inside a building that was formerly a Nazi air raid shelter. The bunker consisted of thirty rooms, many of which were decorated comfortably.
Conrad was disappointed to discover that Allied soldiers had stripped the bunker of most of its artifacts in the years following the Nazi defeat. He had hoped to photograph its "original setting of insanity."
This photograph shows the modern day site of Hitler's bunker. This informational plaque is the only thing that would suggest it was where Hitler committed suicide.
This photo, taken in July of 1947, shows the rear entrance to the Führerbunker. It was found in the garden of the Reich Chancellery. The conical structure in the middle of the photo is an exhaust vent as well as a bomb shelter.