William Vandivert- Time & Life Pictures/Getty Images
Oberwallstrasse, in central Berlin,saw some of the most vicious fighting between German and Soviet troops in the spring of 1945.
A new view of a photograph that appeared, heavily cropped, in LIFE, picturing Hitler’s bunker, partially burned by retreating troops and stripped of valuables by invading Russians.
In typed notes that William Vandivert sent to LIFE’s New York offices after getting to Berlin, he described his intense, harried visit to Hitler’s bunker: “These pix were made in the dark with only candle for illumination… Our small party of four beat all rest of mob who came down about forty minutes after we got there.” Above: A 16th century painting reportedly stolen from a Milam museum.
With only candles to light their way, war correspondents examine a couch stained with blood (see dark patch on the arm of the sofa) located inside Hitler’s bunker.
Abandoned furniture and debris inside Adolf Hitler’s bunker, Berlin, 1945.
An SS officer’s cap, with the infamous death’s-head skull emblem barely visible.
LIFE correspondent Percy Knauth, left, sifts through debris in the shallow trench in the garden of the Reich Chancellery where, Knauth was told, the bodies of Hitler and Eva Braun were burned after their suicides.
An American soldier, PFC Douglas Page, offers a mocking Nazi salute inside the bombed-out ruins of the Berliner Sportspalast, or Sport Palace. The venue, destroyed during an Allied bombing raid in January 1944, was where the Third Reich often held political rallies.
At the Reichstag, evidence of a practice common throughout the centuries: soldiers scrawling graffiti to honor fallen comrades, insult the vanquished or simply announce,I was here. I survived. Berlin, 1945.
An image almost too perfectly symbolic of Berlin in 1945: A crushed globe and a bust of Hitler amid rubble outside the ruined Reich Chancellery.