Photographer William Vandivert worked for LIFE from the late 1930s until 1948. When Russian and German troops fought street-by-street to control the German capital in April 1945, it became increasingly clear that the Allies would win the war. Immediately following the battle’s end, Vandivert was on the scene, photographing the devastated landscape of Berlin.
Thousands of civilians perished in the Battle of Berlin, including men, women, and children, and countless others were left homeless. On April 30, 1945, two deaths marked the end of the Third Reich: that of Hitler and that of Eva Braun, his long-time companion, and (briefly) wife.
Several Vandivert was the first western photographer who got access to Hitler’s bunker. His photographs were published in LIFE in July 1945, after he gained access to the bunker after Berlin fell. Here are a few of those republished images; however, most of these pictures have never been published before and illustrate the surreal, disturbing scenes Vandivert experienced both inside the bunker and beyond its concrete walls in the streets of the ruined, vanquished city.