Showing posts with label Bergen-Belsen. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Bergen-Belsen. Show all posts

Remaining Nazi Sites in Lower Saxon

Die deutsche Siedlungsstadt (German Settlement City)
At the end of the Great War, on 8 November 1918, a socialist Workers' council forced Duke Ernest Augustus to abdicate his throne. On 10 November the council proclaimed the Socialist Republic of Brunswick under a one party government of the Independent Social Democratic Party of Germany (USPD). However, the subsequent elections on 22 December 1918 were won by the Social Democratic Party of Germany (MSPD), and USPD and MSPD formed a coalition government. In 1919 an uprising in Braunschweig, led by the communist Spartacus League, was defeated when Freikorps troops under Georg Ludwig Rudolf Maercker, by order of German Minister of Defence Gustav Noske, took over the city. Subsequently, a SPD-led government was established, and in December 1921 the new constitution of the Free State of Brunswick, now a parliamentary republic within the Weimar Republic, again with Braunschweig as its capital, was approved. During World War II thousands of forced Eastern workers were brought to the city. During the years 1943–1945 at least 360 children taken away from the workers died in the Entbindungsheim für Ostarbeiterinnen. Braunschweig on the night of 15 October 1944  During the war, Braunschweig was a Sub-area Headquarters (Untergebiet Hauptquartier) of Military District (Wehrkreis) XI. It was also the garrison city of the 31st Infanterie Division, which took part in the invasions of Poland, Belgium, France, and Russia, and was largely destroyed during the German withdrawal from Russia. The city was severely damaged by Anglo-American aerial attacks. The air raid on October 15, 1944 destroyed most of the Altstadt (old town), which had been the largest ensemble of half-timbered houses in Germany, as well as most of the churches. The cathedral, which had been converted to a national shrine (the Nationale Weihestätte) by the Nazi government, still stood.
Hitler reviewing the SA in front of the palace in 1931. It was here that Hitler became a German citizen when, on February 25, Hitler’s naturalisation was effected in Brunswick. The official notice read as follows:
Brunswick, February 26 The Führer of the NSDAP, Adolf Hitler, has been appointed Regierungsrat in the Brunswick legation in Berlin with immediate effect. Adolf Hitler has thus become a German citizen. His certificate of appointment was signed in the afternoon of Thursday by the Brunswick Minister-President Küchenthal and Minister Klagges.
The somewhat dubious means by which Hitler had become a German citizen were not regarded by the National Socialists themselves as improper in the least. Indeed, they were pleased at having “put one over” on the Reich Government and that, by means of this incident, the public had been made aware of a loophole through which citizenship could be procured—and probably had been even before Hitler conceived of the plan.
The statue of Friedrich Wilhelm then and now
 The schloss then and now, and after its 1944 bombing
Hitler at the hauptfriedhof, Germany's largest cemetery, on October 19, 1930 where he spoke at the funeral of Karl Dincklage. 
Adolf-Hitler-Haus, seat of the district administration of the NSDAP. Now Villa Rimpau on Wolfenbütteler Straße 2 is named after its first owner, the landowner and businessman Arnold Rimpau (1856-1936). The villa was built in 1881-82 by the architect Constantin Uhde in a neo-classical style. In 1932 it was bought by the Braunschweigische Lebensversicherungsbank and sold a year later to the Nazi Party. On the 24th September 1933 it was consecrated to the office of the NSDAP district leader of the City of Brunswick. The first district leader was Wilhelm Hesse (1933-1938), followed by Arnold Krebs (1938–1940), Kurt Beier (1940–1944) and Berthold Heilig (19 March 1944 to 8 May 1945). The building was renamed "Adolf Hitler house"and dubbed the "Brown House ". In addition to the NSDAP district leadership the German Labour Front and the Gauinspektion Brunswick were also headquartered in the villa. During the Second World War the bombing of the 15th October 1944 severely damaged the building forcing the district leadership on 1 November 1944 to withdraw to the Veltheimsche house on Burgplatz until April 12, 1945.

The Andreaskirche and Alten Waage in August 1941 and today

  Hermannsdenkmal and Katharinenkirche, 1941 and now

The Brunswick Lion then and now with the Braunschweig Dom behind
The Braunschweig Dom as it appeared during the Nazi era and today

 Katharinenkirche at the end of a now-lost Hagenbrücke
The Bernhard-Rust-Hochschule (now the Naturhistorischen Museums), named after Dr. Bernhard Rust who had served as Minister of Science, Education and National Culture (Reichserziehungsminister) in Nazi Germany. A combination of school administrator and zealous Nazi, he issued decrees, often bizarre, at every level of the German educational system to immerse German youth in the National Socialist philosophy. Considered by many to be mentally unstable, Rust would spuriously create new regulations and then repeal them just as quickly. One noted example was in 1935, when he changed the traditional six-day school week to five days, with Saturday to be "Reich's Youth Day" when children in the Hitler Youth and the League of German Girls would be out of school for study and testing. He then ordered the creation of a "rolling week", with six days for study, followed by the "youth day" and a rest day, in 8-day periods. Thus, a rolling week starting on Monday would end with rest on the following Monday; the next rolling week would start on Tuesday and end 8 days later on the next Tuesday. When the 8-day week proved unworkable, Rust went back to the former system. In 1933 he issued a rule that students and teachers should greet each other with the Nazi salute "as a symbol of the new Germany". He added his opinion that it was "expected of every German" regardless of membership in the party. Rust was instrumental in purging German universities of Jews and others regarded as enemies of the State, most notably at the University of Göttingen. Nazi Germany's future leaders received their instruction elsewhere, in an NPEA or "Napola" (NAtionalPOLitische erziehungsAnstalten), of which there were 30 in the nation, where they would receive training to become administrators of conquered provinces.  He bluntly informed teachers that their aim was to educate ethnically aware Germans. Rust also believed that non-Aryan science (such as Albert Einstein's "Jewish physics") was flawed, and had what he felt to be a rational explanation for this view. In an address to scientists, he said, "The problems of science do not present themselves in the same way to all men. The Negro or the Jew will view the same world in a different light from the German investigator." Rust committed suicide on 8 May 1945 when Germany surrendered to Allied forces.
On April 30, 1934, Bernhard Rust, an Obergruppenfuehrer in the S.A., one- time Gauleiter of Hanover, a Nazi Party member and friend of Hitler since the early Twenties, was named Reich Minister of Science, Education and Popular Culture. In the bizarre, topsy-turvy world of National Socialism, Rust was eminently fitted for his task. Since 1930 he had been an unemployed provincial schoolmaster, having been dismissed in that year by the local republican authorities at Hanover for certain manifestations of instability of mind, though his fanatical Nazism may have been partly responsible for his ouster. For Dr. Rust preached the Nazi gospel with the zeal of a Goebbels and the fuzziness of a Rosenberg. Named Prussian Minister of Science, Art and Education in February 1933, he boasted that he had succeeded overnight in ”liquidating the school as an institution of intellectual acrobatics.”
To such a mindless man was now entrusted dictatorial control over German science, the public schools, the institutions of higher learning and the youth organizations.

Shirer (220)

Cafe Börner on Adolf-Hitler-Platz and Adolf Hitlerplatz in 1942; not much left of it now...

The RAF exacting justice on Braunschweig's city centre during the night October 15, 1944. Today reminders of the war can still be seen, such as what's left of the Hotel Handelshof.
The former "Reichsakademie für Jugendführung", a NSDAP Hitlerjugend college.

The former Luftflottenkommando or headquarters for Luftwaffe Gruppe II, later the Yorkshire Barracks used by the British Forces

The Akademie für Jugendführung Braunschweig was responsible for instructing and training the most high-ranking leaders within the Hitler Youth. Today it serves as the Braunschweig Kolleg.
Nazi Housing estates in Braunschweig

Promotion brochure and personal visit by Hitler in 1935
Immediately after the takeover in 1933, the National Socialist idea of creating a visible volksgemeinshaft was carried out in Brunswick. Brunswick happened to be the geographical centre of the new industrial area of the city between the "KdF car" (Wolfsburg) and the "City of Hermann Goering Works" (Salzgitter). Through industry growth and the increasing number of industrial workers, the population and thus the need for housing increased. In 1934 the first major pilot project was the communal settlement Braunschweig-Lehndorf. The second model settlement was from 1936 to 1939, the German Labour Front-settlement Mascheroder Holz was realised. From 1938, a third project, the SA-settlement in Rühme began.  
Rathenaustaße then and now Saarstraße
Rathenaustaße then and now

On 21 March 1934 the groundbreaking for the Gemeinschaftssiedlung Lehndorf was made. Here about 2,600 housing units in the form of small settlements with gable roofed single or double houses were created. Upon completion of the first phase in 1936 funding was because of the high infrastructure costs and the money needed for the weapons programme.      

After his visit, Hitler ordered Lehndorf, a symbol of the new order and the centre of the party in the volksgemeinshaft symbolising the idea of unity of party and state.  In front of the tower, which housed the living quarters of the youth organisation, a memorial hall was built. The area in front of the building served as a playground as well as having a branch of the State Bank, and a health centre.

The Besenmännchen in the Neustadt in 1939 and today. Sculpted in 1938 by Jacob Hofmann, it represents the ideology behind the national socialist community through the "racial cleansing" of the "inferior" and politically "unreliable."  
The Gemeinschaftshaus with Nazi eagle removed whilst the interior has been extensively remodelled in a much more delicate manner.
The former Reichsjägerhof „Hermann Göring“ outside Brunswick. It had served as was one of two large forestry farms built during the Third Reich primarily for meetings of Gaujägermeister and state hunts for the Nazi leadership, in particular "Jägermeister" Hermann Goering. It was built in 1934 at the instigation of the then-Nazi Party 'Prime Minister' of the Free State of Brunswick , Dietrich Klagges in order to curry favour with the new regime in Berlin. To achieve this goal Klagges sought proximity to Goering, whose passion for hunting was well known. The monastery of Riddagshausen with its extensive ponds was integrated into the system. In addition, a pheasant breeding centre , falconry and a wildlife park was furnished.  At its opening on May 5, 1935 Klagges handed the operations to Goering as a personal gift upon his marriage to to the wedding to actress Emmy Sonnemann. Goering stayed here twice on state hunts with foreign diplomats: the first on 4 November 1935, followed by one in November 1938. 

Supposed painting by Hitler of the rathaus
Nazis in front of the rathaus in 1939
The Stadttheater during the Nazi era and today, unchanged
The Knochenhaueramtshaus (Butchers' Guild Hall), built in 1529 and destroyed 1945. It was eventually reconstructed between 1987-1989 and is regarded as perhaps the finest fachwerk domestic house in Germany prior to the Second World War. Of Hildesheim's 1500 half-timbered medieval houses only 200 survived the destructive Allied bombing raid of 22nd March 1945. After 1945 the remains of the original Knochenhaueramtshaus were cleared away and a modern hotel was built on the site. In 1987 the hotel was demolished and a replica of the Amtshaus was constructed on its original site using the original plans. Hildesheim itself  was heavily damaged by air raids in 1945, especially on 22 March. Although it had little military significance, two months before the end of the war in Europe the historic city was bombed as part of the Area Bombing Directive in order to undermine the morale of the German people. 28.5% of the houses were completely destroyed and 44.7% damaged. 26.8% of the houses remained undamaged. The centre, which had retained its medieval character until then, was almost levelled. In his book After the Reich-The Brutal History of the Allied Occupation, Giles MacDonogh writes of how Hildesheim's "wooden houses burned for a fortnight before the flames could be extinguished, and where the two largest Carolingian churches went up in smoke." As in many cities, priority was given to rapid building of badly needed housing, and concrete structures took the place of the destroyed buildings. Fortunately, most of the major churches, two of them now UNESCO World Heritage Sites, were rebuilt in the original style soon after the war. During the war, valuable world heritage materials had been hidden in the basement of the city wall. In the 1980s a reconstruction of the historic centre began. Some of the unattractive concrete buildings around the market place were torn down and replaced by replicas of the original buildings.
 The hauptbahnhof then and now

Adolf Hitler Strasse then and now 
The rathaus sporting the swastika April 2, 1936 and now

Celle (Lower Saxony)
The photo on the left shows Otto Telschow (centre) with the Kreisleiter of Celle, Walter Pakebusch (Left), Hans Kerrl (Right). Both contemporary photos are from the Am Markt during the reopening of the Schlosstheater on May 13 1935.                                 
The entrance to the Otto-Telschow-Hause during the Third Reich; today it serves as the Volkshochschule. Telschow had joined the Nazi Party in 1925, and was the founder of the regional Nazi newspaper, the Niedersachsen-Stürmer. In October 1928, he was appointed Gauleiter of the Nazi party's regional subsection Gau Eastern Hanover, a post he retained until the end of World War II. Telschow gained more influence after 1935, when the Nazi-party Gaue usurped the functions of the streamlined German states. In 1930 he was elected to the Reichstag for the Ost-Hannover electoral district, and remained a member until 1945. He was taken prisoner by the British Army at Lüneburg and committed suicide in prison by slashing his wrists.
The "Viktor Lutze-haus" was inaugurated on 30 October 1938 in the name of the President of the Province of Hanover and SA Chief of Staff Viktor Lutze. Of special significance was its soup kitchen, previously located at Hannoversche Strasse 54, and operated as part of the DRK of the Vaterländischen Frauenverein (Patriotic Women's Association). For the new building in the Fundumstraße the city acquired the land and built the building at its own expense. The inauguration itself was celebrated on a grand scale and to a large audience.
Today it houses the German Red Cross.
The "Kraft durch Freude" (Strength through Joy) shop on Bergstrasse 1a which offered day and longer vacations, in particular trips to the party rallies in Nuremberg. KdF had its own "sports official", led by sports courses and sports events. Kdf held a "People's Education Centre", which had a wide range of courses, sometimes explicitly Nazi themes such as "racial biology". Musical offerings such as group singing and music lessons as well as tickets to operettas and concerts.
 On 8 March 1933 the swastika flag was hoisted atop the Celle Town Hall. SA, SS and Stahlhelm had provided the honour guard to the sound of the Horst Wessel Song. Four days later, municipal elections were held and, close to the national count, the Nazi Party managed 42.9%. Mayor Ernst Meyer was retained in office by the Nazis, whilst the senator Ernst Harmful (SPD), was forced to resign and senator Wilhelm Mohr escaped a dismissal only through early retirement.
In the foreground of the period photo is the Braunes Haus.
The Oberlandesgericht then and now. The Nazis wanted to make justice a compliant instrument of their state. The courts found themselves exposed to a variety of measures whilst the judges themselves largely lost their independence, many responsibilities having been transferred to the Special Courts and the People's Court, police and Gestapo. 
The President of the Celle Higher Regional Court (OLG), Adolf von Garßen (1884-1946), was one of only two presidents in the German Reich, which prior to 1933 conducted a Higher Regional Court until 1945 when they were removed by the British. With the majority of his fellow judges, he joined the Nazi party on 1 May 1933. The President played an important role, because he was involved in enforcement of Nazi policy points. 
In April 1933, the Nazis enacted the so-called Gesetz zur Wiederherstellung des Berufsbeamtentums which made it possible to remove officials the Nazis objected to. Besides Social Democrats and Communists, it was aimed at mainly Jews, for in this Act, for the first time an "Aryan paragraph" inserted. The Senate President, Dr. Richard Katzenstein (1878-1942) was removed from office due to his Jewish ancestry.
 The Städtische Union, was the "largest and most traditional" venue in Celle. Both cultural and political events took place here, and the Celle National Socialists used it before 1933; in February 1931 a nazi speaker from Berlin spoke here on "The German woman fighting with the Nazi man for the German soul", in March 1932 the nazis held a campaign rally referring to "racial issues", and ended with the "Horst Wessel Song". Also on 30 July 1932, on the eve of the election, in the "crowded great hall" a major gathering took place with more following during the course of the year. On 30 September the Braunschweig State Minister Klagges spoke in the Union about requirements for Party members, and on 12 October a "25-man strong Nazi banners Chapel 77" during an "army marching evening".
The last elections in 1933 were accompanied by events in the Union. In addition to the many events of the Celle NSDAP, its various branches, such as DAF and NSA, and other associations and clubs, with a regional focus and more political nature, were also held here: for example, a presentation of the "Ostmark" poet Josef Hiess and lectures on the topic "The East Germany calling" as well as various lectures sponsored by "Strength through Joy" on German literature.
The events of the Nazi Party increased not only in frequency, but were apparently also getting bigger, so the Celle district administration wrote in April 1935 that "the Union can no longer hold so many people and major events should be held in the open air." As a result, the district administration in January 1936 asked the city to create a "large sound system" for such events, which could then be lent to the party.
A Nazi Christmas party in one of the rooms

For more on Celle during the National Socialist period:
   The British had their first experience of a Nazi death camp near Celle as they advanced towards the Elbe in the second week of April 1945. The 11th Armoured Division was pushing towards its military objectives when its forward troops were met by a Mercedes staff car containing two Wehrmacht colonels. They had come to offer them Bergen-Belsen camp, where, they said, the inmates were dying of typhus. It was three days before the British entered the camp, and they were naturally horrified by what they saw.
   Belsen was not an extermination camp like Auschwitz, Treblinka or Majdanek. It had been set up as recently as 1943 to house ‘exchange Jews’. These were Jews with non-German passports who Himmler believed could be bartered for money or for German nationals in Allied captivity. The idea of selling Jews to the West went back to the abortive Evian Conference of 1938. Conditions at Belsen had been as good as any until the end of the war, when the SS began driving the inmates of the camps west, in order to prevent them falling into the hands of the advancing Red Army. As much as possible, evidence of the Final Solution was to be destroyed. Hitler was furious with Himmler when he learned on 13 or 14 April that the Americans had liberated Buchenwald and found 20,000 prisoners the SS had failed to evacuate or shoot. Hitler had barked into the telephone at the SS chief: ‘. . . make sure that your people don’t become sentimental!’
   Large numbers of former prisoners from eastern camps were shipped into Belsen. They were not only Jews. Estimates for the number of Jews in Belsen at the time of the liberation vary, but at most they were not much more than half. There were prisoners from all over Europe as well as the usual concentration camp inmates: political prisoners, ‘anti-social elements’ and criminals – including homosexuals – who had contravened Article 175 of the Prussian Legal Code. Not only were the food and medical supplies inadequate to deal with them, but they brought typhus. Lack of food had resulted in outbreaks of cannibalism. By the time the British had made up their minds to go in, the plague had reached epidemic proportions. Over the next few weeks a quarter of the 60,000 inhabitants would die. Most of these were deemed to have been beyond medical care, but some died because the British were at a loss to know how to treat and feed them. In hindsight it is easy to accuse them of negligence, but they still had military objectives. There was a war to be won, and a pressing need to prevent the Red Army from absorbing the whole of Germany. Himmler knew that many Britons wanted to push on and fight the Russians, and while he bartered Jews with the Swedish count Bernadotte, he hoped that he himself might be retained in the fight against Bolshevism.
  The living skeletons of Belsen wrought their revenge on the hated kapos, throwing some 150 of them out of first-floor windows under the eyes of the British soldiers.
Bergen-Belsen (Lower Saxony)
This camp was not only the destination of many evacuation marches, but also operated as a reception camp for sick prisoners from other concentration camps. The first transport arrived at the end of March: a thousand prisoners from Dora, most suffering from tuberculosis; only fifty- seven of these survived to the end of the war. In the following months, the men’s camp in Bergen-Belsen developed into the largest Sterbelager, absorbing transports of sick prisoners from the entire concentration camp system. Thousands were freighted there, from Sachsenhausen, Neuengamme, Friedrichshafen, Magdeburg (Brabag), Ohrdruf, Flossenbürg, Leitmeritz, and Leonberg. The Sterbelager had the function of relieving the subcamps by absorbing sick prisoners and lowering the mortality there. The death blocks and Sterbelager had the same function for the camps inside the Reich as the Birkenau gas chambers had for the subcamps of Auschwitz.
Wolfgang Sofsky (250)

A British Army bulldozer pushes bodies into a mass grave at Belsen on April 19, 1945 whilst on the right is seen mass grave 3 wherein Dr. Fritz Klein, a German doctor at the camp, can be seen in the foreground standing amongst the corpses.
 SS camp guards are made to load the bodies of dead prisoners onto a lorry for burial before British flamethrowers set the barracks in Belsen ablaze.
The camp was liberated on April 15, 1945 by the British 11th Armoured Division. 60,000 prisoners were found inside, most of them seriously ill, and another 13,000 corpses lay around the camp unburied. The scenes that greeted British troops were described by the BBC's Richard Dimbleby, who accompanied them:
...Here over an acre of ground lay dead and dying people. You could not see which was which... The living lay with their heads against the corpses and around them moved the awful, ghostly procession of emaciated, aimless people, with nothing to do and with no hope of life, unable to move out of your way, unable to look at the terrible sights around them ... Babies had been born here, tiny wizened things that could not live ... A mother, driven mad, screamed at a British sentry to give her milk for her child, and thrust the tiny mite into his arms, then ran off, crying terribly. He opened the bundle and found the baby had been dead for days.
This day at Belsen was the most horrible of my life.

Churchill visited the camp following his trip to Aachen to receive the Charlemagne Prize. Sir Martin Gilbert's Volume VIII ("Never Despair," p. 1197) mentions the visit but gives no details. Anthony Montague Browne's Long Sunset mentions the visit on page 207, specifically the visit to Celle, (below), but is also scarce on details. 
On the 70th anniversary of the British Empire's liberation of Belsen, German President Joachim Gauck paid tribute specifically to the British soldiers who freed the camp and restored “humanity” to the country. "The British soldiers were the ambassadors of a democratic culture that wasn't bent on avenging the crimes of its enemy, and this helped Germany restore its obligation anew to justice and the dignity of the human being," Gauck said, before professing his "deep need" to thank Great Britain for liberating Bergen-Belsen.
 “With their actions and their approach, driven by humanity, a new epoch began. People, the former ‘master race’, would see that human sympathy can indeed be learned. As such, they were the shining counter-example to the advancing Germans who in the years before conquered, subjugated, enslaved and plundered Europe.”
  The quiet of Bergen-Belsen belies its unquiet past. Even as the Queen arrived, the stillness of the place seemed little disturbed.  This was a “personal and reflective” visit by the UK’s monarch to the former concentration camp, which surrendered its horrors to British liberators in the dying days of the second world war to become a worldwide symbol of Nazi crimes.  On the final day of her state visit to Germany, the Queen and Duke of Edinburgh were joined by a small handful of those liberators and survivors to remember, and pay tribute, to the 70,000 who died here.  “It must have been horrific,” she said to navy pilot Captain Eric “Winkle” Brown, 96, from West Sussex, one of the first British officers to enter its gates on 15 April 1945.  “Utterly, utterly horrific,” he recalled later, with some 10,000 bodies just “littered around” and survivors “dehumanised”, urinating and defecating where they stood or lay. “They had lost all dignity, they were dying, none of them looked as if they would live,” he added.  When Germany handed over the camp to the 11th Armoured Division, there were 53,000 inmates, half-starved, typhus-ridden, overcrowded and more dead than alive. Some 35,000 had died in the previous three months alone, and another 13,000 could not be saved. Each step deeper into the camp revealed fresh, unimaginable nightmare.  Images taken then by British liberators revealed the brutality and depravity of Bergen-Belsen – and Nazi genocide – to a shocked world; thousands of naked corpses piled high being bulldozered – for fear of contagion – into mass graves; pitiful survivors, yellow parchment skin stretched tightly over bones. “Polished skeletons”, was how Richard Dimbleby described them in his historic 1945 radio despatch, propping themselves up against windows to see the light before they died, “and they were dying, every hour and every minute”.  The Queen and Prince Philip walked briefly alone through the juniper and heather heathland sprinkled with birch which forms the memorial grounds of the former concentration camp, detention camp, prisoner of war camp, and final destination for those from other camps forced on death marches.  They paused to lay a wreath at the memorial obelisk and Inscription Stone to the thousands of Jews, Roma, Soviet prisoners of war and many others who perished here. The UK’s chief rabbi, Ephraim Mirvis, who accompanied her, told the Queen that Jews around the world appreciated the gesture of her visit.  Large green mounds mark the sites of mass graves, the rest of the camp having been burnt to the ground in an attempt to halt the typhus epidemic.  “You have to have a good imagination because there’s hardly anything here. We see mounds which cover thousands of bones, we see memorials, but apart from that we see beautiful countryside. For me, it shows how beautiful countryside can become a killing field,” Mirvis said.  Within one of these mounds, no one knows which, lie the remains of Anne Frank, whose teenage diaries would be a global bestseller long after her death, and her older sister Margot. Both died of typhus just weeks before liberation. At a simple headstone bearing their names, the Queen stood silently, her head slightly bowed.  Brown, fluent in German, had helped interrogate camp commandant Josef Kramer and his assistant Irma Grese.  This was his fourth return, and on each he is struck by “a clammy feeling” that “almost envelops you”. He said: “I still wake up the odd morning and the stench of Belsen is in my nostrils. God, that smell was fearsome.”  Of the royal visit, he thought “the world was glad to see her here and showing the spirit of reconciliation”.  “She’s come with the object of reconciliation, really, and it’s long overdue in many ways.” It was a message to the young “not to feel too much guilt about it now, it didn’t happen in their generation”.  Belsen survivor Rudi Oppenheimer, 83, from Berlin now living in London, was 12 when he was sent to the camp where his parents, both 42, died of typhus.  As an “exchange Jew” – whom the Germans hoped to barter for German prisoners – he was put on the last train out five days before the camp was surrendered to the British.  “We were filthy,” he recalled. With no sanitation, no water, little food, “we were the filth that Goebbels tried to tell people we were”.  “I pity the British army who had to look after these people,” said Oppenheimer, adding that he was thrilled at the Queen’s visit – seeing it as a tribute to the British army who liberated the camp.  Anita Lasker-Wallfisch, 89, Polish-born now living in Britain, who was transferred to Bergen-Belsen from Auschwitz where she was a cellist with the women’s orchestra, said: “Belsen was complete chaos. People were sent there and sat there and waited until they were dead”.  She was surprised the Queen had not visited before. “It was liberated by the British and it’s logical she would want to see it because of its very strong connection to Britain,” she said.  Bernard Levy, 89, an army corporal, who arrived the day after it was liberated, said: “The Queen asked me how horrible it was to be here but I didn’t want to dwell on the past, I just wanted to talk about the future, and about educating young people about what happened.”  Karen Pollock, chief executive of the Holocaust Education Trust, said: “Her Majesty’s visit is particularly poignant in this anniversary year – 70 years after the liberation of the camp and will mean so much to the survivors and liberators who are still with us”.  This was the Queen’s fifth official visit to Germany but its fondness for her, it seems, is undiminished. Thousands of flag-waving well-wishers turned out to greet her during a four-day visit that palace officials will judge a huge success.  “We love you Ma’am” said the front page of Bild, Germany’s biggest selling newspaper. “The Queen of England and the Queen of Europe,” chirruped another headline, referencing her meeting with the chancellor, Angela Merkel – “two women united by power and thoughtful use of it”.  But this was the Queen’s first ever visit to a former Nazi concentration camp.  It may have been a sombre note on which to end a successful state visit, yet just by her being here – and having been invited to be here – served as a potent symbol of the mutual respect between Germany and the UK that has continued to grow since those darkest of days in Europe’s past.  Christian Wagner, director of the Bergen-Belsen Memorial, said the Queen was interested in why the site looked as it does today. “I explained to her that the wooden buildings were burned down after the liberation to stop the spread of disease, and the other buildings were later demolished by the Germans who wanted the camp to disappear.”
 HM The Queen meets survivors and liberators of Bergen-Belsen concentration camp  Royal couple told of horrors at Nazi death camp during ‘personal and reflective’ visit to site in northern Germany 

Bergen-Hohne Training Area (Truppenübungsplatz Bergen-Hohne) Lower Saxony
Scenes of the area in the 1930s. It currently covers an area of 284 square kilometres (70,000 acres), making it the largest military training area in Germany.

Under British control, the training area was steadily expanded and, since the 1960s, has also been used by the German Armed Forces (the Bundeswehr) and other NATO troops. On the right shows Sir Winston Churchill visiting May 13, 1956.
Hoppenstedter Strasse with reichsadler above the door, still overlooking the entrance
Established by the Wehrmacht in 1935, at the end of war it was taken over by British occupation forces and some of its facilities used as a liberation camp for survivors of the Bergen-Belsen concentration camp, which was located a few miles away.
One of the most notorious DP camps was Bergen-Belsen. Once the British had managed to bring down the death rate it was possible to introduce some degree of comfort into the camp, especially when the inmates were moved out of the old buildings and into the well-appointed ϟϟ barracks. That took a while. At first witnesses were horrified to see how dehumanised the former prisoners had become. Many of the Jews were women, and General Dempsey, commanding the British Second Army, recalled seeing one ‘standing stark naked washing herself with some issue soap in water from a tank in which the remains of a child floated’
Goslar (Lower Saxony)
Reichsbauernstadt (Reich Peasant City, City of the Reich Food Corporation)

Hitler inspecting an honour guard during the Reichsbauerntag
Hitler in front of the Imperial Palace in Goslar on the occasion of the Harvest Festival on September 30, 1934 and the same site today. It was here that Hitler gave a lengthy speech delivered before 700,000 peasants containing Hitler’s standard views on the “peasantry as the antithesis of intellectual urbanisation.” Vainly conscious of holding the supreme military command, he could not resist warning his adversaries at home and abroad that he would not shy away from the “worst,” by which he was apparently referring to war. Hitler stated:
They [the adversaries] will never defeat us; at worst, they will make us even more independent. National Socialist Germany stands more firmly today than ever before, and August 19 was the best and most unequivocal confirmation of this fact.
The train station during the Nazi era and today

Goslar to strip Hitler's honorary citizenship

Hanover (lower Saxony)

Adolf Hitler Straße then and now; the hauptbahnhof remains as a reference point

Café Kröpke, now sadly renamed the Mövenpick Cafe. Seen in both photographs is the he Kröpcke clock, now a 1977 replica of an 1885 clock that was scrapped after the Second World War.
Consecration of the flag of the NSDAP Ortsgruppe Hanover branch in the Nazarethkirche July 11 1933
On top of the 18-metre column erected in 1936 by the Hannover town counci is a 4.5-metre statue of the torchbearer by Hermann Scheuernstuhl for the official inauguration of the Nordufer des Maschsee, a man-made lake in the town. Poised on a sphere, the nude figure actually maintains his Hitler salute whilst holding the Olympic flame carried to the Games from Olympia for the first time in 1936. The "Victory Column" glorified the Nazi state on its plinth inscription, from which the swastika was struck off in 1945. On its base with the reichsadler still prominent is inscribed:
Wille zum Aufbau
gab werkfrohen Händen
der Segen der Arbeit
Freude, Gesundheit und Kraft
spende fortan auch der See!
1934 - 1936
Also on Maschsee is Arno Breker's lion sculptures.
Breker was simultaneously representative of those who chose to collaborate with the Nazi leaders and exceptional because of his stature within the Third Reich. Breker produced monumental sculptures that have become closely identified with the regime, and indeed, he was one of the most celebrated artists in Nazi Germany. Breker’s Faustian bar- gain included changing the style of his art. His work shifted from a variant of naturalism, where he was strongly influenced by August Rodin, to a monumental and characteristically fascist idiom.21 Until his death in 1991, he was never able to acknowledge that he had compromised his art or helped sustain the Nazi regime. Like many other figures in this study, Breker’s later years were characterized not only by rehabilitation, but also denial.
 The main synagogue during the time of the Reichskristallnacht, November 9-10 1938

Its subdued and barricaded replacement on Haeckelstraße, with memorial in front

The Technischen Hochschule in the 1930s and today, the Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz Universität

Braunlage im Harz  
In the same district is this town, which had been the site for the Jugendherberge Braunlage on Lauterberger straße 41.  

Tietlingen (Niedersachsen)
The grave of Hermann Löns, a German journalist and writer who was most famous as "The Poet of the Heath" for his novels and poems celebrating the people and landscape of the North German moors, particularly the Lüneburg Heath in Lower Saxony. Löns is well known in Germany for his famous folksongs. He was also a hunter, natural historian and conservationist. Löns was killed in World War I and his purported remains were later used by the Nazi government for propaganda purposes as he was considered by the Nazis as one of "their" writers (despite the fact that Löns's lifestyle didn't match the Nazi ideals). Some parts of his works fit well within the "Blood and soil" ethos endorsed by National Socialist ideologues such as Walther Darre and Alfred Rosenberg, which lauded the peasantry and small rural communities as the true lifeblood of the German nation.  On 5 January 1933, a French farmer found the boots of a German soldier in one of his fields. With the help of the local sexton, he uncovered a skeleton and identification tag. The sexton buried the body in an individual grave in a German graveyard near Loivre. It took almost 18 months for the tag to reach Berlin via the German embassy in France. This tag has been lost during an Allied bombing raid on Berlin, an extant photograph does not allow a definite conclusion on whether the tag said "F.R." (Füselier-Regiment) or "I.R." (Infanterie-Regiment). However, on 8 May 1934 the Völkische Beobachter announced that the grave of Löns had been discovered. In October 1934, at the behest of Adolf Hitler, Löns' body was exhumed and brought to Germany. There was no medical examination to try and verify that these were indeed the remains of the writer.  In 1919, several bodies had been exhumed in the vicinity of the area where Löns was killed and transferred to the war cemetery at Luxembourg. From there they were moved to a mass grave near Loivre, where they remain to this day, according to the Volksbund Deutsche Kriegsgräberfürsorge, a charity. It is quite possible that Löns' remains were among them.  The exhumed body the Nazis claimed was Löns was supposed to be buried in the Lüneburg Heath, given his links with the area. However, the exact location of his new grave posed problems. The initial plan to bury him at the Sieben Steinhäuser, a megalithic site, was abandoned since the military at the time had (still secret) plans to establish the military training facility Bergen in the area. An alternative site near Wilseder Berg was rejected due to concerns about the environmental impact of large numbers of visitors to the grave. Finding a suitable burial place became an issue for the top echelons of the regime, including Hermann Göring, Rudolf Heß, Joseph Goebbels, Werner von Blomberg and even Adolf Hitler. Rumours circulated that Löns had been Jewish, a social democrat or a pacifist. His alcohol abuse and "womanising" also became an issue.  To deal with what was increasingly becoming an embarrassing situation for the regime, on 30 November 1933 members of the SA, apparently on orders from Goebbels, snatched the remains from the graveyard chapel in Fallingbostel where they were awaiting reburial. They buried them near the roadside of what was then Reichsstrasse 3 (today B3) south of Barrl, near the area known today as Reinsehlen Camp on 30 November 1934. However, on 2 August 1935, the anniversary of the start of Word War I, on the initiative of von Blomberg, Minister of War, the Reichswehr exhumed the remains and transferred them to the Tietlinger Wacholderhain near Walsrode, where an earlier (1929) memorial had been erected, for a ceremonial reburial.

Hitler on the platform at the main railway station
Hitler in front of the rathaus in 1939 and the platz today. It was here on April 1, 1939 the day after Chamberlain had announced in Parliament that Britain offered an unconditional guarantee to Poland, followed within a fortnight by similar guarantees to Rumania and Greece, that Hitler declared that Germany would not submit to intimidation or encirclement:
When folk in other countries say that now they are arming and that they will continuously increase their armaments, then to these statesmen I have only one thing to say:  'Me you will never tire.' I am determined to continue to march on this path, I am convinced that we shall advance faster than the others... If anyone should really wish to pit his strength against ours with violence, then the German people is in the position to accept the challenge at anytime: it is ready, too, and resolved... (Bullock)
Hitler leaving the Garnisonkirche from Heinrich Hoffmann's Hitler wie ihn keiner kennt (Berlin: "Zeitgeschichte" Verlag, 1932). The caption reads: "A photograph accidentally becomes a symbol. Adolf Hitler, the supposed 'heretic,' leaves the Marine Church in Wilhelmshaven.

The town hall flying the Nazi flags and today
Bad Pyrmont
The Kinderheim Sonnenhof then, with swastika, and today- serving the German Red Cross

The swastika flying from the Rattenfängerhaus and today


From 1933 to 1937 the Nazi Party arranged an annual Harvest Festival at Bückeberg, close to the city of Hamelin the „Reichserntedankfeste.“  More than one million people are supposed to have gathered there in order to celebrate the German peasant, to listen to speech delivered by Adolf Hitler, and to watch a large military show. To manage this number of participants a special arena designed by Albert Speer was built. The site was intended to be one of the symbolically most important in the Reich.
After the war the arena was demolished and the site was turned into a meadow. There remain the ruins of the foundations of the tribune, shown above.

Bad Nenndorf

The Bad Nenndorf interrogation centre was a British Combined Services Detailed Interrogation Centre located at the Winckler-Bath in the town of Bad Nenndorf which operated from June 1945 to July 1947. Allegations of mistreatment of detainees by British troops resulted in a police investigation, a public controversy in both Britain and Germany and the camp's eventual closure. Four of the camp's officers were brought before courts-martial in 1948 and one of the four was convicted on charges of neglect.

The island features in The Riddle of the Sands, the 1903 novel by British novelist (and traitor) Erskine Childers.

Strandstraße bedecked with swastikas and today
Looking the other direction
[B]y late 1933, even Norderney, a resort that had once been popular with German and foreign Jews, used marketing slogans like ‘The North Sea Resort of Norderney is free of Jews’. Visitors could even purchase a postcard entitled ‘At one time and now’, which depicted a group of young, dark-haired, allegedly Jewish vacationers above and a group of tall, blond, bathing-suited ‘Aryans’ below. 
Semmens (69) Seeing Hitler’s Germany
Kaiser Wilhelm Memorial
 The Kurhotel
The Kurhaus
The Hotel "Vier Jahreszeiten
The Marienhöhe
The Port
The Postamt

Varel am Jadebusen
Adolf-Hitler-Strasse, now Obernstrasse. The Lichtspielhaus is still there, no longer sporting the swastika.
SA marching in front of the District Court in 1934.
The railway station then and now. Hitler arrived here twice-  May 25, 1932 and September 28, 1939.

The Gasthaus zum Bückeberg with and without the hakenkreuz

Lange Straße, lined with swastikas and today. Hitler had spoken  in Delmenhorst at the Schützenhof on May 26, 1932 during his presidential campaign.

Adolf-Hitler-Strasse then and now  

Adolf-Hitler-Platz then and now with St. Bonifatius church in the background
The Paradies guesthouse during the 1930s and now

The rathaus flying the Nazi flag in 1933