An image almost too-perfectly symbolic of Berlin in the last weeks of April 1945: a crushed globe and a bust of Hitler lying amid rubble and debris outside the Reich Chancellery building.
A common practice of soldiers through the centuries: scrawling graffiti to honor fallen comrades, insult the vanquished, or simply announce, I was here. I survived. "Columns at entrance into Chancellery gardens," wrote Vandivert of this eerie scene, "showing bomb and artillery wreckage and names of Russians who fell in fighting there."
Russian soldiers and an unidentified civilian struggle to move a large bronze Nazi Party eagle which once loomed over a doorway of the Reich Chancellery in Berlin.
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 and where Hitler and others frequently gave speeches.
An American soldier, PFC Douglas Page, offers a mocking Nazi salute inside the roofless, bombed-out ruins of the Berliner Sportspalast, or Sport Palace -- a venue where the Third Reich often held huge political rallies and where Hitler and others frequently speechified. Private Page is standing on the spot where Hitler usually stood while making speeches, before the building was destroyed during an Allied bombing raid on January 30, 1944.
Aerial view of bombed-out buildings and wrecked gasworks in and around the Schöneberg section of Berlin.
A ruined, empty safe inside Hitler's bunker, April 1945.
Unpublished. An SS officer's cap, with the infamous "death's head" skull emblem just barely visible. Of this image, Vandivert's notes state simply: "moldy SS cap lying in water on floor of sitting room."
IFE war correspondent Percy Knauth (left) sifts through dirt and debris in the shallow trench in the garden of the Reich Chancellery where the bodies of Hitler and Eva Braun are believed to have been burned after their suicides.
With only candles to light their way, war correspondents examine a couch stained with blood located inside Hitler's bunker.
The first of the approximately 20 pages of notes that William Vandivert typed for LIFE's editors in New York, describing not only the pictures he took but also the atmosphere pervading his examination of Hitler's bunker and the Reich Chancellery grounds. (An example of Vandivert's terse, vivid notations: "... view of chancellery palace ... completely bombed, burned and shelled to hell.")
This is the first of the 20 or so pages of notes that Vandivert typed up for LIFE's editors back in New York, describing not only the pictures that were taken on each roll of film, but also the mood and the atmosphere pervading his experience of examining Hitler's bunker and the Reich Chancellery grounds. (An example of Vandivert's terse, vivid notations: "... view of chancellery palace ... This is completely bombed, burned, and shelled to hell.")
This Vandivert shot not only captures the chaotic state of Hitler's bunker, but also features an item that recalls the wanton gangsterism that characterized Nazi rule: a 16th-century painting looted from a museum in Milan.
This is a new view of a photograph that appeared, heavily cropped, in LIFE, picturing Hitler's command center in the bunker, partially burned by retreating German troops and stripped of valuables by invading Russians.
Oberwallstrasse, in central Berlin, which saw some of the most vicious fighting between German and Soviet troops in the spring of 1945.