Geoff Walden

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Miscellaneous Sites

Associated with the Third Reich

Part 5

 

   The following sites can be found on this page. Click these links to proceed directly to a particular site: DAF Schule at Erwitte (Nordrhein-Westfalen), Amtsgericht, Volksschule, and Siemens company building in Erlangen (Bavaria), Reichsbank in Koblenz (Baden-Württemberg), SS Honor Castle at Wewelsburg (Nordrhein-Westfalen), Luftwaffe test site at Rechlin (Mecklenburg-Vorpommern), V-2 rocket development site at Peenemünde (Mecklenburg-Vorpommern), NSKK Schule at Kochel am See (Bavaria), Rathaus at Mittenwald (Bavaria), Hitler at Walhalla (Bavaria), SS Lebensborn Home Steinhöring (Bavaria), Forsthaus in Lohr am Main (Bavaria).

 

Erwitte

In 1934-36 a school complex was built adjacent to the palace in Erwitte, for the Deutsche Arbeits-Front (DAF). This so-called Schulungsburg was designed by Julius Schulte-Frohlinde. Above is the Horst-Wessel-Halle (click here to see close-up views of the eagle by Willy Meller).  (Werner Rittich, "Architektur und Bauplastik der Gegenwart," Berlin, 1938)  (MapQuest Map Link)

 

Side view of the Horst Wessel Hall. At the side of the building was a column with an Eagle and Swastika, overlooking three memorial plaques - these features no longer exist.  (Werner Rittich, "Architektur und Bauplastik der Gegenwart"  (1938)

 

This building in the Erwitte complex is rarely recognized today as one of the DAF Schulungsburg buildings, but it was one of the administration buildings for the school (it serves today as a nursing home). Click here to see a similar school in Saßnitz.  ("Bauten der Bewegung," Vol. 1, 1938)

 


Erlangen

This building located at Sieboltstraße 2 in Erlangen was the Amtsgericht, or court house. It still has a Nazi eagle above the entry doorway (click here).  (MapQuest Map Link)

 

The Friedrich-Rückert-Schule at the Ohmplatz on Memelstraße in Erlangen was built as a Volksschule during the Third Reich period. It has a decorated entry doorway, and a Nazi eagle over a side doorway (click here).  (MapQuest Map Link)

 

This building in Erlangen was built as a headquarters building for the Siemens company.

 


Koblenz

The Koblenz Reichsbankfiliale (national bank branch) was located at Neustadt 6. The building featured Nazi eagles above the doorways (one is still there), reliefs depicting workers, farmers, and figures from Greek mythology, and stylized swastika motifs above the windows.  (MapQuest Map Link)

 


Wewelsburg

The Wewelsburg castle in Nordrhein-Westfalen was built in the early 17th century. In 1934 the SS acquired the castle, because SS chief Heinrich Himmler wanted to establish a school for the SS leadership. Later, Wewelsburg was one of the primary focuses of Himmler's SS cult mythology. The castle appears much as it did in the 1940s, despite attempts by the SS to blow up the North Tower in 1945 (see crop from the 1945 photo at bottom - the castle roof was destroyed). The two top floors of the North Tower had been removed in 1942 during ongoing but unfinished construction efforts - the top floors seen today were added in the early 1970s. Below, U.S. Army soldiers view the castle on 7 April 1945.  (U.S. National Archives, RG 111SC-407883)  (Google Maps link)

 

The central focus of the SS castle was the North Tower. Here, Himmler had a Crypt (Gruft) dug into the lower level (by slave labor from a nearby concentration camp). This Crypt figured into Himmler's mythology, and was probably meant to be his burial place. Himmler conceived of Wewelsburg to be the "center of the world," and he made plans for a vast construction of an SS cult center in concentric circles around the North Tower, with the Crypt as the epicenter of all.

 

Panoramic view of the Crypt  (courtesy Mike Davis)

 

The domed ceiling of the Crypt has a swastika in its center. The level above the Crypt was the Obergruppenführersaal, or Supreme Leaders Hall. Himmler envisioned this as a sort of "Round Table" for his twelve principal SS leaders. In the center of the floor is a Sonnenrad (sun wheel) symbol with twelve Siegrunen (victory runes).

 

Above - a ceremony in front of the main SS guard house, outside the castle, on 19 June 1939 (this building houses the museum today). Below - a guard position just outside the castle still shows partially effaced but recognizable SS runes above the doorway.  (above - Wewelsburg Museum)

 

The SS guard house building had an air raid shelter - Luftschutzraum - that is preserved today, complete with the standard metal bunker door. Period wall markings have been preserved - "Nicht rauchen" (No Smoking) and "Ruhe bewahren" (Keep Calm).

 

The main entry gate to the castle had iron door decorations inlaid into circles in the wooden doors. These circles can be seen in the doors today, but the ironwork is gone. The Wewelsburg Museum displays two of the iron door decorations.  (Wewelsburg Museum)

 

A Hitler Youth Jungvolk drum and bugle corps parades at the Wewelsburg Castle in March 1935.  ("Das Schwarze Korps," 8 May 1935, Wewelsburg Museum)

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Near the Wewelsburg Castle is the Ottens Hof guesthouse (built in 1937), called the Dorfgemeinschaftshaus (village community house) or or the SS Kameradschaftshaus during the Third Reich period. The Ottens Hof maintains almost its entire period rustic appearance today.  (Gerdy Troost, "Das Bauen im neuen Reich" (Vol. 2, 1943)  (Google Maps link)

 

           

One of the dining areas of the Ottens Hof had wooden benches with carved SS Death's Heads and different styles of swastikas, and these are mostly still in place today (one panel is preserved in the museum). See close-up views here. On the right above, SS chief Himmler visits the Dorfgemeinschaftshaus(Wewelsburg Museum)

 

A Schießstand (shooting range) for the SS was built east of Wewelsburg in 1941, with labor performed by prisoners from the nearby concentration camp Niederhagen. The range was mostly destroyed after the war, which left the main shooting room (on the left above) with no roof and only partial walls. The underground target scorers' area at the end of range is under water today (right above) - the entrance is closed with a locked gate (below - see a similar range site with intact scorers' room here).  (Google Maps link)

 


Rechlin

The Luftwaffe maintained a test area and proving grounds near the airfield at Rechlin-Lärz, north of Berlin. Various weapons and bomb protection measures were tested here. Ruins of several of these features remain in the woods, including this large bunker, whose purpose is unknown. The roof of the bunker has been collapsed by demolition at some point, likely by the Soviets after the war.  (MapQuest Map Link to this bunker - other WW2 ruins are in the woods west of Qualzow, which is east of Rechlin, on the other side of the lake)

 

The front of the bunker was manufactured with a large opening. It is unknown whether this bunker was meant for aircraft storage, or weapons testing, or some other function. Russian graffiti appear on the bunker, relics of the postwar period when Rechlin was used by the Soviet military.

 

Doubtless the most famous ruins at the Rechlin test site are the so-called "Weißer Häuser" buildings - the "White Houses." These four structures (two high-rises and two shorter buildings) were built to test designs for buildings that would withstand bombing attacks.  (Google Maps link)

 

Above - two of the buildings retain a small part of their original brick cladding. The photos below show one of the shorter buildings. (The Weißer Häuser site can be difficult to find, even with the map link given above. If you wish to visit, I can give you some hints on how to find it - walden01(at)comcast.net)

 

Standing adjacent to the Weißer Häuser is this interesting relic, apparently a test target. The thick slab of reinforced concrete appears to have been struck by a large caliber high explosive projectile, perhaps of the type called today HEP (High Explosive Plastic) or HESH (High Explosive Squash Head). These types of rounds can be effective against concrete bunkers, not necessarily by penetrating the walls, but by causing spalling of the interior concrete surface, in which pieces of concrete come off and fly around the inside of the structure. This appears to be the type of damage that was caused in this test (the target side is on the left above, while the spalled interior side is on the right above).

 


Peenemünde

In 1936 a rocket development and test area was established at Peenemünde on the Baltic Sea island of Usedom. Here Dr. Werner von Braun and other scientists developed the A-4 rocket, which would later be known as the V-2. On 3 October 1942 the first successful test flight took place, when an A-4 rocket was launched into space from Launch Pad VII. The Allies were aware of the Peenemünde works, and made bombing attacks in August 1943 and in early 1944. Following these attacks, production of the V-2 rocket was moved to the Mittelwerk underground rocket factory near Nordhausen. The photos above show the original power plant, which now houses the Peenemünde HTI (Historic-Technic Information Center) museum.  (MapQuest Map Link)  For further info - www.peenemuende.de 

 

The crane at the left supplied coal for the Peenemünde power plant - transferring coal from ships in the harbor to belts that carried it to the boiler furnaces. On the right can be seen the ruins of the liquid oxygen plant, located in the town of Peenemünde itself.

 

Period views of one of the A-4/V-2 launch sites at Peenemünde.  (Bundesarchiv)

 

This bunker was part of the control center for the power plant. It also served as a Luftschutz shelter during the Allied bombing attacks. Today it is the entrance to the museum, with an A-4 rocket displayed outside.

 

On the left, a closer view of the A-4 rocket on display. On the right, an original A-4 combustion chamber on display in the museum.

 


NSKK School, Kochel am See

This complex was a school for the alpine section of the Nationalsozialistisches Kraftfahrer Korps (NSKK) - a paramilitary motorized section of the Nazi Party. The school, located on the shore of the Kochelsee lake, was named for Gen. Franz Ritter von Epp, Nazi governor of Bavaria.  (period postcards)  (Google Maps link)

 


Mittenwald

The Rathaus (town hall) of the alpine town of Mittenwald was built in 1939. The building still serves as the town hall today, although it has been changed by the addition of another story (and the swastikas are long gone).  (Gerdy Troost, "Das Bauen im neuen Reich" (Vol. 1, 1942 ed.)  (MapQuest Map Link)

 


Hitler at Walhalla, Regensburg

Adolf Hitler visited the Walhalla memorial outside Regensburg on 6 June 1937 to honor the memory of composer Anton Bruckner. The comparison photo was actually taken one section in front of where Hitler stood, because that is where Bruckner's bust is located today (in the center on the lower shelf).  (Bundesarchiv)  (MapQuest Map Link)

 

The Walhalla memorial was built in the style of a Greek temple, overlooking the Danube River valley east of Regensburg, by King Ludwig I in 1842. Hundreds of busts and inscriptions honor historical figures from Germanic history. Some more recent honorees have been added lately - on the right is a bust of Sophie Scholl, co-leader (with her brother Hans) of the White Rose resistance movement against the Nazis in Munich (the Scholls were executed by the Gestapo in 1944). The plaque honors the memory of all those who resisted the terror of the Third Reich.

 


SS Lebensborn Home Steinhöring

The SS established a Lebensborn home at Steinhöring, east of Munich. These homes were provided primarily for unwed mothers of children by SS fathers, and also for young children from Germanic provinces who were waiting adoption. The Third Reich period sculpture below of a mother nursing her child can be found today on the grounds of the Steinhöring home. (Note to visitors - today the Steinhöring home is a hospital and housing facility for the handicapped. Please respect their privacy and do not intrude on it.)  (MapQuest Map Link)

 


Forsthaus, Lohr am Main

This Forstverwaltung building (Forestry Service administration) was built in Lohr am Main in 1937-38, and used mainly as a forestry school. It had a Reichsadler national insignia of an eagle taking flight (the swastika was removed post-war). Click here to see photos of the fighting in and around Lohr in April 1945.  (Fritz Wächtler, "Die Neue Heimat," Munich, 1940)  (MapQuest Map Link)

 

An elaborate ceremony at the Lohr Forsthaus - perhaps the opening ceremony in 1938.

 

   Continue to Part 6

   Go to the War Memorials page

   Back to the Third Reich in Ruins homepage

 

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This page initially uploaded on 20 July 2000.


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