It was all over. The Reich was finished, Hitler dead, his charred jaw bone all Russian pathologists could find of him in the smouldering ruins of Berlin. Hundreds of miles to the south, in Austria, an SS unit prepared to stage its own private apocalypse.
On May 7 1945, they arrived at Immendorf Castle in southern Austria. The German soldiers already billeted there were ordered to leave. That morning, German forces in Austria had signed their surrender, to take effect the next day; for these SS men, it was the last night of the war.
Schloss Immendorf was a beautiful setting for their final night of power and freedom. The castle’s massive fortifications were softened with sloping tiled roofs, so that it resembled a Loire chateau, set in spacious parkland, with ivy growing up the walls. A curving staircase led to a grand interior full of art treasures, stored here by the Reich to save them from air raids on Vienna.
Among this store were 13 paintings by Gustav Klimt.
more from The Guardian here.