Geoff Walden


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Miscellaneous Sites

Associated with the Third Reich

Part 6

 

   The following sites can be found on this page. Click these links to proceed directly to a particular site: Frankfurt am Main (Hessen), Tannenberg (East Prussia / Poland), Ratibor (Upper Silesia / Poland), Sassnitz (Saßnitz) (Mecklenburg-Vorpommern), Feilitzsch (Bavaria), "Natter" rocket launch sites, Stetten am kalten Markt and Kirchheim unter Teck (Baden-Württemberg).

Frankfurt am Main

Adolf Hitler visited Frankfurt am Main on 31 March 1938, during the campaign following the Anschluß with Austria, which led to the formation of the Großdeutsches Reich (Greater German Empire). Hitler is seen above with other dignitaries on the balcony of the famed "Römer" Rathaus (town hall building) in the Frankfurt Altstadt (old city center). Below, the Alter Markt (Old Market Square - also called the Römerberg) of the Altstadt was decorated with Nazi flags and filled with a cheering crowd. (Heinrich Hoffmann, "Hitler baut Grossdeutschland," Berlin, 1938)  (Google Maps link)

 

Above - Wehrmacht military standard celebration in front of the Rathaus in the Alter Markt on 12 November 1937. Below - The old Fachwerk (half-timbered) buildings on the other side of the Römerberg were decorated with Nazi flags in this postcard view.  (above - Bundesarchiv; below - period postcard)

 

This large building in Frankfurt was the headquarters of the IG Farben industrial complex. IG Farben was involved in many areas of the chemical industry, but the company is perhaps best known today as the maker of the Zyklon-B poison gas that was used in the death camps of the Third Reich. At the end of World War II the building complex was appropriated as Allied Headquarters under General Eisenhower, and it continued as a U.S. Army and NATO headquarters until the early 1990s (known as the Abrams Building). The complex is now the Goethe University. (Werner Rittich, "Architektur und Bauplastik der Gegenwart," Berlin, 1938)  (MapQuest Map Link)

 

The entrance to the IG Farben Building is practically unchanged, except for the removal of the flags and the addition of the Johann Wolfgang Goethe Universität sign over the entryway. On the left, the building is seen decorated for a labor festival.

 

My father, Army Air Forces Lt. Delbert R. Walden, visited the IG Farben Building in 1946, when it was in use as SHAEF Headquarters under General Eisenhower. Visit the US Army in Germany page for a history of the IG Farben / Abrams Building (scroll down the page to the bottom).  (collection of G.R. and G.A. Walden)

 

Behind the main building is a large reflecting pool. The building on the right, also part of the complex, served as the Officer's Club while the IG Farben complex served as Allied Headquarters.

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A bronze sculpture by Third Reich period artist Fritz Klimsch appears above the reflecting pool - "Am Wasser," 1931. As the story goes, Mamie Eisenhower did not like this sculpture and had it removed to storage, but after the American forces left the building in the 1990s it was returned to its original position. Click here to see another similar work by Klimsch, also still in existence.

 


Tannenberg

In the mid-1920s a monument was built in East Prussia on the site of the August 1914 battle of Tannenberg, in which German forces under Field Marshal Paul von Hindenburg defeated the Russian Second Army. Following Hindenburg's death in 1934, Hitler had him buried in a crypt built into the monument. The monument was designed as a walled octagon with eight towers, reminiscent of a Teutonic fortress. In January 1945, as advancing Soviet forces neared the site, the Germans removed the remains of Hindenburg and his wife, and blew up two of the towers. The site was eventually stripped for building materials by the Poles who moved into East Prussia after the end of World War II. (Hubert Schrade, "Bauten des Dritten Reiches," Leipzig, 1937; Werner Rittich, "Architektur und Bauplastik der Gegenwart," Berlin, 1938 )  (MapQuest Map Link - approx. location)

 

 The burial of Paul von Hindenburg at the Tannenberg monument on 2 October 1935.  (Bundesarchiv)

 

A gathering of the SA (Sturmabteilung) at Tannenberg in July 1938.  (private collection)

 

   

   Adolf Hitler lays a wreath at the Tannenberg memorial in 1931.

   "Deutschland erwacht - Werden, Kampf un Sieg der NSDAP," Hamburg, 1933

 

 

Only a stone arch and wall, and some brick rubble remains on the site today, which is located in a park area of the Polish town of Olsztynek. The stone arch seen above is thought to be part of the original entrance to the monument. (Many thanks to Dietmar Grauer for sending the modern photos!)

 

The memorial marker below was placed by the Volksbund Deutsche Kriegsgräberfürsorge e.V., the organization that oversees German war cemeteries, in memory of World War I casualties buried at the site. (Many thanks to Dietmar Grauer for sending these photos!)

 


Ratibor, Border Tower

       

A monumental tower was built at Ratibor in southern Silesia (Oberschlesien / Upper Silesia) near the pre-war border with Poland. This Grenzlandturm (border tower) bore the inscription "Deutschland Deutschland Über Alles." The modified building is used today as a candy factory and office building in the Polish town of Raciborz. (photos and info courtesy R. Kaiser)  (MapQuest Map Link to Ratibor)

 


Reich Academy, DAF School, Saßnitz

In 1934-35 architect Julius Schulte-Frohlinde redesigned and renovated a summer hotel in Saßnitz on the Island of Rügen into a Schulungsburg training academy for the DAF (Deutsche Arbeits-Front - Workers Front). Schulte-Frohlinde added side wings to the building and stonework on the grounds, and redesigned the main part of the building with exercise rooms, a library, a Fest Hall, meeting rooms, and living quarters. The building was torn down after the war and the only recognizable remains to be seen today are the stone entryway and semi-circular flag bastion. Click here to see a similar school in Erwitte.  (photos and location info courtesy Stephen Hicks)  (MapQuest Map Link)

 

This plan view of the north side of the building shows the stonework bastion at the left. A flagpole and salute cannon were mounted there.
("Bauten der Bewegung," Vol. 1, 1938)

 

What appear to be remains of the back wall of the building are at the edge of the woods at the rear of the site, and other rubble of the building is in an overgrown area. Click here to see another site in Saßnitz, and here to see the remains at Prora on the Island of Rügen.  ("Bauten der Bewegung," Vol. 1, 1938; right - courtesy Stephen Hicks)

 


Feilitzsch

This school in the village of Feilitzsch in northern Bavaria was built during the period 1933-39. The basic building still exsists, although changed somewhat through renovation, and is still a school.  (MapQuest Map Link)

 


"Natter" Rocket Launch Sites, Stetten am kalten Markt and Kirchheim unter Teck

     One of the secret weapons being developed by the Germans toward the end of World War II was the Ba 349 "Natter" rocket plane ("Natter" can be translated as Adder or Viper). This vehicle, which was developed by Erich Bachem and went through several different design configurations, was the first manned vertically-launched rocket vehicle in history. Although the vehicle never went past the testing stage, and had only one manned launch, it was designed to quickly climb to the altitude of enemy bombers, engage and destroy a bomber with missiles, and fall back to earth. The plane could not land, but the pilot would parachute to safety and the main part of the plane would also come down on a parachute, to be reused (the vehicle was cheaply constructed, mainly of wood).

     The single manned test flight, 1 March 1945, ended in tragedy as the pilot Lothar Sieber was killed when the rocket plane crashed, apparently due to a malfunctioning booster rocket and canopy. This was the first vertical launch of a manned rocket powered vehicle, which would not be repeated for sixteen years, until Soviet cosmonaut Yuri Gagarin flew into space in 1961. (further info: Joachim Dressel and Manfred Griehl, "Die deutschen Raketenflugzeuge 1935-1945," ISBN: 3-89350-692-6)

 

The Natter/Viper was first launched from a metal launch tower, with side rails to support the wings. Later prototypes were launched from a simplified wooden pole structure, that was erected on a circular concrete base. The concrete launch base can be seen in the photo on the left, which shows test vehicle M23, used for Lothar Sieber's tragic test flight in March 1945. The other photos show unmanned Viper test launches from the initial test site at the Heuberg military training area at Stetten am kalten Markt (a.k.M.).  (U.S. National Archives, RG342FH-3A1993 and 3A1994; courtesy Digital History Archive)

 

The original test launch site and Sieber's first manned flight are commemorated by a monument stone at the site in the Heuberg military training area. The monument was located next to an original concrete launch pad for the second type of wooden pole launcher, used to launch two or three prototypes after Sieber's flight (this pad was not the one used for Sieber's launch). The Heuberg military training area is not open to the public.  (Google Maps link)

 

An operational launch site for the Viper rockets was built near Kirchheim unter Teck, between Ulm and Stuttgart. This location today is in the Hasenholz Forest, just on the south side of Autobahn A8 near Jesingen. Three concrete launch bases for the later type wooden pole launchers are located in a rough triangle in the woods, about 80-120 meters apart. The launch pad above is at the southern point of the triangle. The close-up shows the central square hole that held the wooden pole launch tower, and a pipe going into the concrete base at an angle, for the electrical launch control cables. Note the slightly different configuration of the pole mount from the first launch pad above (by the monument). The two launch pads below are located along the northern side of the triangle. Unfortunately, these two launch pads (and perhaps the one above as well) will likely be destroyed by the construction of a high-speed rail line through here, scheduled to begin in 2012. Apparently, no "Natters" were ever launched from this site.  (Google Maps Location Link)

 

In early 2015 the trees and earth were cleared from around the two launch pads nearest the Autobahn (below), apparently in preparation to build the rail line through here. The southernmost pad remains intact in the woods, and it may survive (on the left above). The view on the right above shows the central hole about two meters deep to mount the wooden launch pole.

 

On 11 May 1945, the advancing U.S. Army captured four more-or-less intact Vipers, along with some of the design scientists, near St. Leonhard, Austria. These rocket planes underwent various tests after the war, and one of them remains in storage in the Smithsonian Institution's Air and Space Collection. In the photo on the right above, Dr. Heinz Rieck, one of the plane's inventors, is seen explaining the flight plan to a GI of the 44th Infantry Division. The device near the rear of the rocket plane that looks like a bomb with a nozzle is a small solid-fuel booster rocket, four of which assisted in the launch (very much like NASA's space shuttle). In the photo on the left below, GIs inspect the liquid-fuel main rocket exhaust, and the photo on the right below shows the Viper's business end - its armament of 24 73mm air-to-air missiles (various other armaments had been tried; this was to be the production configuration). These missiles were covered during launch and powered flight by a plexiglass cover; this was to be jettisoned and the missiles launched in a volley at the bomber target.  (U.S. National Archives; upper left - RG111SC-211911; upper right - RG111SC-211913; lower left - RG111SC-211917; lower right - RG111SC-211912; courtesy Digital History Archive)

 

More views of the captured Viper rocket planes. Dr.Heinz Rieck opens the detachable canopy and works on the instrument panel (above). In the photo on the left below, he demonstrates the mounting of one of the solid-fuel booster rockets. On the right below, Dr. Rieck shows the spring mechanism to release the parachute for the rear part of the aircraft (he holds the parachute in his left hand).  (U.S. National Archives; upper left - RG342FH-3A2000; upper right - RG111SC-21191x; lower left - RG111SC-211915; lower right - RG111SC-196233; courtesy Digital History Archive)

 

The lifesize "Natter" model above is located in the Militärgeschichtliche Sammlung museum on the Lager Heuberg military post at Stetten a.k.M. (the museum is open to the public). The model is displayed to represent test pilot Lothar Sieber climbing into the cockpit of prototype vehicle M23, prior to his fateful flight of 1 March 1945. The museum also has displays of the "Föhn" anti-aircraft rocket armament of the "Natter" (left below), a restored Walter rocket motor HWK 109-509A (right below), and parts recovered from the crash site of Sieber's "Natter."  (Google Maps link to museum parking area)

 

This Ba 349 "Natter" (BP-20 test model), built from spare parts, is on display in the Deutsches Museum in Munich, along with the original thrust tube and combustion chamber from a Walter rocket motor HWK 109-509A (above right and below). This display "Natter" is painted to portray test model M17, which flew in an unmanned test flight in early 1945. The black stripes were to aid visual tracking of the rocket plane (see the middle photo of the first group above).

 

   Continue to Part 7

   Go to the War Memorials page

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Third Reich in Ruins, http://www.thirdreichruins.com/

All contents copyright © 2000-2017, Geoffrey R. Walden; all rights reserved.  All photos taken by or 
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This page initially uploaded on 20 July 2000.


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