nhow Hamburg project on the bunker of St. Pauli
Credit: Courtesy of Matzen Immobilien KG

A former Nazi bunker in Hamburg, Germany will open to the public in 2021 as a 136-room hotel, complete with bar, cafe and rooftop garden.

The “design and lifestyle” nHow Hamburg Hotel is being built atop the Bunker St. Pauli, one of the thousands of air raid shelters built by the Third Reich.

The World War II-era structure was built by 1,000 forced laborers in 1942, according to the city of Hamburg website. During the 1943 air raids on Hamburg, an estimated 25,000 people sought shelter in the bunker.

Following the war, there were plans to tear the bunker down. But its walls (which are about 11.5 feet thick) were too big. The explosives necessary to take down the building would have also taken down surrounding residential buildings. So the bunker stayed.

In 1950, the television network NWDR broadcast Germany’s first television images from the bunker. Since then, it’s been used for several civil and public projects. Its thick walls made it perfect for those prone to making noise. A nightclub opened on its top floor and a music store below. A pop music school took up several floors, as well. Locals came up with the plan to build a green garden on top of the structure. And now five floors of hotel space will be built on, as well.

nHow Hotel spokesperson Juliane Voss told the New York Times that the hotel chain was “aware of the history of the building...We understand it’s a sensitive topic. We would like to send a positive signal to the city of Hamburg.”

There will be a 560-square-foot exhibition space inside the building to commemorate and explain its past.

The structure is far from the only Third Reich building that has been repurposed into something more touristic. In 2017, Hitler’s “Strength Through Joy” holiday complex (which some call a “Nazi Resort”) in Prora was developed as luxury apartments.