In the Mouth of the Lion takes place primarily in 1942 Switzerland, Austria, and Germany. The major action, the Jungian analysis of Adolf Hitler, occurs near Bludenz, Austria, not far from Liechtenstein. Why Bludenz? Bludenz is a reasonable driving distance from Zurich for someone Jung’s age. More importantly, Bludenz is similar to Blut, the German word for blood, an important motif for In the Mouth of the Lion.
There were no suitable places for Jung and Hitler to meet in or near Bludenz, so I borrowed a site from Eastern Austria, Hitler’s diplomatic conference building, Kehlsteinhaus. I didn’t use the entire building, just the surrounding mountains and the entry tunnel. The tunnel still exists, as Kehlsteinhaus is a tourist destination from mid-May to mid-October, weather permitting.
Kehlsteinhaus, also called The Eagle’s Nest because of its altitude of 6017 feet, is actually located 14,000 ft southeast of the town of Berchtesgaden. I named my relocated Eagle’s Nest “Loewensburg,” roughly “Lion’s Castle.”
The main entrance to Kehlsteinhaus is from a parking lot about 130 meters below the top of the mountain. A tunnel leads from the lot 409 feet straight into the mountain, where an elevator takes you to the top, 409 feet straight up. The journey takes less than a minute. The elevator has two levels and can hold as many as 45 people. The bottom floor of the elevator, originaally the staff level, is accessed by a separate waiting area, one story below the main tunnel waiting room.
Kehlsteinhaus was built in 1938 by Hitler’s secretary and close associate, Martin Bormann, in honor of the Fuehrer’s 50th birthday. It was referred to variously as “the Eagle’s Nest,” or the “D-Haus,” short for Diplomatic Reception House. “D-Haus” is often corrupted to T-House or Teahouse, as the result of a misunderstanding. There was an actual teahouse (the Mooslahnerkopf Teehaus) across a valley from the Berghof, but it was destroyed after the war.
Despite having been a spectacular gift from the Nazi Party to Hitler, he rarely visited Kehlsteinhaus. A driver would take him there from the Berghof in an open-top Volkswagen cabriolet. His total visits numbered only ten or twenty, at most. The Fuehrer suffered from acrophobia, a fear of heights. The Berghof probably made him only slightly uncomfortable. Kehlsteinhaus, almost 3000 feet higher, perched on the edge of a mountain, made him very nervous, so he went there only when necessary to greet dignitaries. It was a colossal waste of €150,000,000 in today’s money.
Tourist clip of Kehlsteinhaus
Kehlsteinhaus Visitor Homepage