Showing posts with label Tempelhof. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Tempelhof. Show all posts

More Sites Outside Central Berlin

Wannsee

The Wannsee Conference was convened on 20 January 1942 by the second-highest ranking ϟϟ leader Reinhard Heydrich in a luxurious villa taken over by the ϟϟ in the wealthy Berlin suburb of Wannsee. Its purpose was to announce the launching of the “final solution” of the Jewish question in Europe to leading government and party bureaucrats and to secure their cooperation in this project. Historians have not been able to determine with absolute certainty just when Hitler made the decision for systematic genocide. On 31 July 1941, six weeks after the ϟϟ Einsatzgruppen began murdering Soviet Jews in coordination with “Operation Barbarossa,” Heydrich was delegated the task of drawing up plans for “a total solution of the Jewish question in the German sphere of influence in Europe”. It seems almost certain that he was given the green light to implement these plans by October 1941, when Jewish emigration was prohibited throughout Europe and preparations for the deportation of German Jews were put into place. Euthanasia “experts” had already been transferred to occupied Poland to set up the facilities for mass killings by poison gas. The ruthless racial and ideological war against the Soviet Union provided the conditions under which a systematic extermination program could be launched without generating wide publicity.
The Conference had originally been called for December 8, but the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbour and the launching of the Soviet offensive against the German siege of Moscow forced a postponement. The minutes do not openly describe the killing programme, but none of the high-ranking participants from the various government ministries could have been in any doubt what Heydrich meant when he said that the remnant of Jews who survived forced labour would have to be “appropriately dealt with.” Adolf Eichmann, the specialist on the “Jewish question” in the Reich Security Main Office run by Heydrich, provided the population statistics, which overstated the number of Jews in Europe by some two million. Much of the conference was taken up by the question of whether Jews of mixed ancestry (Mischlinge) and Jews in mixed marriages were to be included in the “final solution.” The ϟϟ was forced by considerations of public morale to respect these distinctions in Germany itself. In the occupied areas, however, the Nazis made no exceptions for part-Jews or Jews in mixed marriages.

 
Site of the Wannsee Conference, a meeting of senior Nazi officials of the Nazi German regime, held on 20 January 1942 to inform senior Nazis and senior Governmental administrators of plans for the "Final solution to the Jewish question."
In the rear, alongside the lake, in 1922 and standing in front now
 
Of the fourteen participants invited and sat around this table discussing the logistics of mass murder, eight held doctorates or comparable university degrees.
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A tour of the house, left, and scene from the BBC / HBO television film Conspiracy which dramatises the 1942 Wannsee Conference which features Kenneth Branagh as Reinhard Heydrich, Stanley Tucci as Adolf Eichmann, and Colin Firth as Wilhelm Stuckart.
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The start of the 1984 German television production Die Wannseekonferenz which presents the conference in real time. Directed by Heinz Schirk with a disturbing performance of charm and calculation by Dietrich Mattausch as Heydrich, the film is based on records and minutes kept of the conference, spoken by unnervingly convincing actors in carefully reconstructed surroundings and wearing meticulously authentic uniforms. Wannseekonferenz appears the better movie with Conspiracy coming across as a flashy imitation, although watching both films is instructive. Both have the same people attending the conference, but how each attendee is portrayed at the conference is strikingly different. Most of the attendees in Conspiracy (except for Dr. Klopfer) are viewed as flawed intellectuals, but full of grace, charm and manners (which makes a nice stark comparison with what they are discussing). Almost all of the attendees in Die Wannseekonferenz (except for the female secretary) are shown as crude, corrupt pigs that differ with each other only as to how to divide their 'power'. It would be interesting to research the 'real' Major Lange. The crude drunken Major Lange of Die Wannseekonferenz seems more likely to be butchering the Jews of Riga than the soft spoken, charming, well-mannered Major Lange of Conspiracy.


Schloss Charlottenburg
 
Charlottenburg Palace is the largest palace in Berlin and the only royal residency in the city dating back to the time of the Hohenzollern family. During the Second World War the palace was badly damaged but has since been reconstructed with Andreas Schlüter’s epic Reiterdenkmal des Grossen Kurfürsten (1699), which shows the Great Elector on horseback, also returned to the front courtyard. 
 
The Schlossbruecke across the Spree in Charlottenburg, where the Soviet Second Guards Tank Army forced its way, despite the damage, on April 29, 1945.

Lichterfelde
A reichsadler at the post office on Hindenburgdamm

Lichterfelde Barracks

Göring’s old military academy at Lichterfelde would be the main execution site of those SA killed during the so-called 'Night of the Long Knives' in 1934. As Bullock relates in Hitler: A Study in Tyranny
Goring, who had been made a general by Hindenburg to his great delight at the end of August 1933, once in power gravitated naturally towards the side of privilege and authority, and was on the worst of terms with the Chief of Staff of the S.A. He began to collect a powerful police force 'for special service', which he kept ready under his own hand at the Lichterfelde Cadet School near Berlin (290).
In Berlin the executions, directed by Goring and Himmler, began on the night of 29-30 June and continued throughout the Saturday and Sunday. The chief place of execution was the Lichterfelde Cadet School, and once again the principal victims were the leaders of the S.A. (303)

Hitler in 1935 and the site today. On December 17 of that year, Hitler toured the barracks and spent several hours there. In the afternoon, he made a speech to “his loyal soldiers of the Movement.” The Völkischer Beobachter reported as follows:
There was nothing more splendid than an elite such as that which the Leibstandarte represented. The Führer underlined in particular the SS men’s task of recruiting for the Party. To great applause, he stressed that “no one would bend or sway us; he would have to break us, and then he would see whether he himself might not be broken first.”
At the close of his speech, Hitler emphasized that nothing was more splendid than knowing that the wonderful regiment of the Leibstandarte bore his name.
Photoshopped then-and-now with the LSSAH at their barracks at Berlin-Lichterfelde 1938

A view from the redesigned Finckensteinallee entrance. Two monumental figures guarded the entrance, the so-called Reichsrottenführer. In the centre is when the Americans used the base and as it appears today.
 
Both entrances to the indoor swimming pool are still flanked today with two, four metre- high granite figures symbolising the "German man" and the "German woman" designed by Professor Hass.
 
Schubertstraße in Lichterfelde, hit by the RAF on the night of January 28/29 1945, after the war and today
 
Another then-and-now comparison: Gossowstraße

Tempelhof aeroport
Left: Hitler and Goering at Flughafen Tempelhof in 1932.
Right: Hess, Hitler and Goering on Tempelhof Field, May Day from the Nazi book Life of a Leader. It was on this occasion that hundreds of thousands had gathered at the Tempelhofer Feld. Goebbels estimated the crowd at one and a half million; the Eher Verlag cited the figure as two million. At 20.00, Hitler delivered a major speech there, expounding once again his old theory that the political and social misery of the German Volk was due solely to its lack of unity. His speech climaxed in the words:
German Volk, you are strong when you are one. German Volk, you are not second-class, even if the world wants you to be a thousand times over. German Volk, forget fourteen years of disintegration and rise up to two thousand years of German history!

A decapitated reichsadler in front of the aeroport with how it originally appeared on the roof with victorious Red Army soldiers, May 1945
 
The Nazi eagle, shorn of its swastika, still remains


The swastikas return to allow Tom Cruise to make his move Valkyrie
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After the Nazis took power, Albert Speer was tasked with planning the reconstruction of Berlin. Among the first projects the Nazis undertook was the renovation of Berlin's Tempelhof International Airport, which began in 1934. Tempelhof was dramatically redesigned as the gateway to Europe, and became the forerunner of today's modern airports. Indeed, the airport halls and the neighbouring buildings are still known as the largest built entities worldwide, and Tempelhof has been described by British architect Sir Norman Foster as "the mother of all airports". The building complex was designed to resemble an eagle in flight with semicircular hangars forming the bird's spread wings. A mile long hangar roof was to have been laid in tiers to form a stadium for spectators at air and ground demonstrations. However, although under construction for more than ten years, it was never finished because of World War II.

The Nazi enlargement of Berlin's Tempelhof aeroport grandiosely demonstrated their aims at enlarging Germany's influence in Europe. The airport's eagle design clearly conveys that "the Eagle of Germany" would again take to the skies, to fly higher than ever before. Coupled with other Nazi architectural accomplishments, like the 1936 Olympic Stadium, and Nuremberg Zeppelin Tribune, were assuredly profound propaganda victories for the Nazi regime.

Potsdam
On 21 March 1933, the first day of spring, the new Hitler government staged an elaborate ceremony in Potsdam, the traditional residence of the Prussian kings. The ceremony was intended to symbolize the continuity between Prusso-German monarchism and the new Nazi-led regime. In the venerable Garrison Church, in front of the vault of Frederick the Great and the throne traditionally occupied by the kaiser, President Hindenburg called on the new government to overcome the selfishness and partisan divisions of the Weimar era and to lead the national renewal for a unified, free, and proud Germany. Hitler, in turn, extolled Hindenburg as the patron of the German “awakening” and as the symbol of the indestructible vitality of the German nation.
Significantly, one of Goebbels’ first staged events as Propaganda Minister was the opening of the new Reichstag with an elaborate ceremony known as the ‘Day of Potsdam’ on 21 March 1933. The ceremony was held in the Garrison Church at Potsdam, the shrine of the old Prussian monarchy. President Hindenburg resplendent in the full military regalia of Prussian field-marshal raised his baton to the empty throne of the exiled Kaiser. Hitler, in top hat and morning coat, bowed deferentially before him. The propaganda message was clear. The Nazis were restoring the old imperial glories lost in 1918 by forging a link between the past and the present – between the conservatism of the Prussian tradition and the razzmatazz of National Socialist ritual propaganda. In a symbolic piece of theatrical staging, Hindenburg took the salute for the final parade (which lasted for several hours) while Hitler stood modestly with his ministers some rows behind the old man 
Welch (21) The Third Reich: Politics and Propaganda
Reich Chancellor Adolf Hitler and Vice-Chancellor Franz von Papen on their way to the garrison church on the 'Day of Potsdam,' left.
Built under the reign of Friedrich Wilhelm I between 1730 and 1735, the Garrison Church burned down on April 14 1945 and its ruins finally demolished on June 23 1968 under Walter Ulbricht. A reconstruction society aims to rebuild the Garrison Church by 2017, financed with donations. 
 The main entrance of the Cecilienhof Palace, where the Potsdam "Big Three" meetings were held. On the left, the Flags of the USSR, United States and United Kingdom are flying over the entranceway as Soviet officers serve as guards. Photographed during the conference.

This was the last of the major Allied conferences of World War II. Held from July 17 to August 2, 1945, in the Berlin suburb of Potsdam, its principal participants were President Harry S. Truman, Soviet premier Joseph Stalin, and (at the beginning of the conference) British prime minister Winston Churchill, whose place was later taken by Clement Attlee, when he replaced Churchill as prime minister.
The major subjects of the conference were the European peace settlements; the urgently pressing issue of administering a defeated and substantially destroyed Germany; the determination of Polish boundaries; the terms of the occupation of Austria; the Soviet role in Eastern Europe; reparations; and, not least, the continued prosecution of the war against Japan.
The conference produced the Potsdam Declaration. With regard to Germany, the declaration asserted the Allies’ intention to give the “German people . . . the opportunity to prepare for the eventual reconstruction of their life on a democratic and peaceful basis.” Four zones of occupation were demarcated in Germany, each to be administered by military governments under the commanders in chief of the U.S., British, Soviet, and French armies of occupation. Austria was also divided into four zones of occupation, as were the capital cities of Berlin and Vienna. Coordination among the occupation zones was to be handled by an Allied Control Council. The conference agreed that occupation policy would embody the principles stated in the Yalta Agreement, including demilitarization, denazification, democratization, decentralization, and deindustrialization.
Regarding the issue of reparations, each Allied power was to recover reparations from its own zone of occupation, with the proviso that the Soviet Union was entitled to recover 10 to 15 percent of the industrial equipment in the western zones of Germany in exchange for agricultural produce and other natural products from its zone.
With regard to the settlement of the Polish border, this was fixed at the Oder and Neisse Rivers in the west, and the country absorbed a portion of what had been East Prussia. This settlement required relocating millions of Germans from these areas.
The settlement of the Soviet role in Eastern Europe was highly contentious, as Stalin refused to permit Western intervention in those Eastern governments already controlled by communists.
At Potsdam President Truman revealed to Stalin the existence of the atomic bomb and that he intended to use it against Japan. Stalin hardly reacted to this revelation—because (as it turned out) his espionage network had already informed him of the existence of the bomb. However, because of the weapon, the conferees were emboldened to issue an ultimatum to Japan on July 26 demanding unconditional surrender. After Japan rejected the ultimatum the United States dropped atomic bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki.

Further reading: Feis, Herbert. Between War and Peace: The Potsdam Conference. Princeton, N.J.: Princeton University Press, 1960; Mee, Charles L. Meeting at Potsdam. New York: M. Evans, 1975; Noble, G. Bernard, ed. Foreign Relations of the United States 1945: Conference of Berlin (Potsdam), 1945. Washington, D.C.: U.S. Department of State, 1960.
The conference room then and now
There remained a great deal of unfinished business. The future of Germany, discussed at Yalta, was not decided by the documents of surrender. The settlement in Eastern Europe was not resolved. The war with Japan was not yet over. The three wartime allies agreed to meet for a conference in which they could explore the many political issues left over from the defeat of the Axis powers. The date agreed upon was July 15. Stalin persuaded his allies to add to the symbolism of surrender by meeting in Berlin. The site chosen was Potsdam, home of Prussian militarism. Zhukov was once again asked to find a suitable venue. He chose the Cecilienhof, a former palace of the Prussian royal family. Other villas were requisitioned for the thousands of officials who followed in train behind their heads of state. Zhukov organized the refurbishment of thirty‐six rooms and an assembly hall in the palace. By request Truman’s headquarters were painted blue; Churchill asked for pink; the Soviet delegation chose a stark white. No circular conference table large enough and in one piece could be found in Berlin, so the Lux furniture factory in Moscow was asked to build one in time for the conference.
Overy, Russia's War
 Potsdam had not been spared in the bombing.
In a massive air raid that night, Allied bombers attacked Potsdam. A Hitler Youth sheltering in a basement that night found the walls around him `rocking like a ship'. The bombs destroyed much of the old town, including the Garnisonkirche, the spiritual home of the Prussian military caste and aristocracy. Ursula von Kardorff burst into tears in the street after hearing the news. `A whole world was destroyed with it,' she wrote in her diary.
Beevor (204-5) Berlin 1945

The Lustgarten then and now, showing the Marstall, St. Nicholas Church and Stadtschloss
Nicholas Church before the war and today

Looking towards the Alten Markt from Schlossstraße
The Altes Rathaus
The Stadtschloss is being reconstructed with as much of the original material as possible. When completed, it is intended to become the Parliament House for the Federal State of Brandenburg.
One part of the schloss currently under reconstruction is the fountain "The Triumph of Neptune and Amphitrite Stilling the Waves", shown here in the 1930s and today.

Sans Souci

With the hakenkreuz flying above and today. The celebrated rococo palace was designed by Georg Wenzeslaus von Knobelsdorff in 1747.
 
The entrance then and now

Fort Hahneberg
 
Fort Hahneberg was completed in 1886 and put to use two years later as one of four forts to defend Berlin on the west side. It ended up being the only one built. The Reichsadler above the entry remains when it was used during the Third Reich. The website for the site is: http://www.forthahneberg.de/cms/website.php
 
Fort Hahneberg was used as the hideout forest for the Inglorious Basterds. As an aside, the title of the movie has to have the swastika removed because the display of Nazi iconography is illegal in Germany. The "Offizielle deutsche Website" has been censored too. Under the German law there ARE exceptions which allow the use of "unconstitutional symbols" for artistic and educational purposes but Universal Pictures obviously didn't find it worth the effort.

Schöneweide
The last well-preserved former Nazi forced labour camp is located in Schöneweide, located at Britzer Straße 5, Berlin-Schöneweide. In the Second World War it served as one of the more than 3,000 mass housing sites dispersed throughout the city for forced labourers. The camp was ordered to be built for 2,000 workers by the “General Building Inspector for the Reich capital” (Generalbauinspektor für die Reichshauptstadt) in close proximity to large armament industries. It included 13 stone barracks for housing. Civil forced labourers and forced labourers of various nationalities, Italian military internees as well as female concentration camp prisoners lived here. A well-preserved residential barrack referred to as ”Barrack 13” has been open for tours since the end of August 2010. In 2000 a compensation program was set up to help out the 2.3 million surviving forced labourers, which is probably both too little and too late.
Website: http://www.ns-zwangsarbeit.de

Oranienburg-Sachsenhausen
During a field trip with students in 201. The camp was used between 1936 to the end of the Third Reich in 1945, and then used by Russians in the Soviet Occupation Zone as a NKVD camp until 1950. It now operates as a museum.

Main entrance. In Sachsenhausen,
some 6,500 were confined at the outbreak of the war. Shortly thereafter, in September 1939, 900 Polish and stateless Jews from the Berlin area were taken to the camp; at the beginning of November, 500 Poles were interned. At the end of that month, 1,200 Czech students were added, and approximately 17,000 persons, mainly Polish nationals, were admitted as in- mates in the period from March to September 1940. Despite the high number of new inmates, the camp population here too stabilized at the level of roughly 10,000 prisoners. That was because of the high mortality rate as well as the transfer of large numbers of Poles to Flossenbürg, Dachau, Neuengamme (in the Bergedorf section of southeastern Hamburg), and Groß-Rosen.
Sofsky (35)
Observation points then and now; since the torching of a barracks by neo-Nazis, security cameras have been installed throughout the site.

The mortuary and infirmary, showing the autopsy table.

The Russians, accompanied by Polish soldiers, chanced upon Sachsenhausen concentration camp as they moved to invest Berlin. The camp was in Oranienburg, and the fall of that former royal borough brought it home to Hitler that his days were numbered. There were just 5,000 prisoners left in Sachsenhausen of a population that had reached 50,000. The rest had been taken on 'death marches.’
(58) After the Reich - The Brutal History of the Allied Occupation
More and more Berliners had been taking the risk of listening to the BBC on the wireless and even dared to discuss its news. But power cuts were now creating a more effective censorship of foreign broadcasts than the police state had ever achieved. London had little idea of the great Soviet offensive, but its announcement that Sachsenhausen- Oranienburg concentration camp had been liberated just north of Berlin gave a good idea of Red Army progress and its intention to encircle the city. The indication of the horrors found there was also another reminder of the vengeance which Berlin faced. This did not stop most Berliners from convincing themselves that the concentration camp stories must be enemy propaganda.

This communist memorial on the left remembers only political prisoners (hence the red triangles), and only those imprisoned by the Nazis as opposed to the Soviets who used the camp for an additional five years. A mass grave from that time was found in 1990. The prisoners on this memorial, far from appearing emaciated, are made to look superhuman in their resolve in a fascist stance the Nazis themselves would have approved of.

Stalin's son Yakov Dzhugashvili served as an artillery officer in the Red Army and was captured on 16 July 1941 in the early stages of the German invasion of USSR at the Battle of Smolensk. The Germans later offered to exchange Yakov for Friedrich Paulus, the German Field Marshal captured by the Soviets after the Battle of Stalingrad, but Stalin turned the offer down, allegedly saying "I will not trade a Marshal for a Lieutenant". According to some sources, there was another proposition as well, that Hitler wanted to exchange Yakov for his nephew Leo Raubal; this proposition was not accepted either. Until recently, it was not clear when and how he died. According to the official German account, Dzhugashvili died by running into an electric fence in the Sachsenhausen concentration camp, where he was being held. Some have contended that Yakov committed suicide at the camp, whilst others have suggested that he was murdered. Currently, declassified files show that Dzhugashvili was shot by a guard for refusing to obey orders. Whilst Dzhugashvili was walking around the camp he was ordered back to the barracks under the threat of being shot. Dzhugashvili refused and shouted, "Shoot!" The guard shot him in the head.
In Sachsenhausen, the SS set up a combined liquidation facility close to the crematorium, “Station Z,” after the last letter in the alphabet. Station Z included a Genickschußanlage, a shooting pit, a gas chamber, and a multiple gallows with block and tackle. The structures had been kept low intentionally so as to block visibility and prevent anyone from looking in over the wall. The first provisional gas chambers in Birkenau were outside the camp, set up in former farmhouses. But the modern crematoria were built in close proximity to the camp. They were surrounded by barbed-wire fences and shielded from view by barriers of willow trees. Flower beds lent the facilities an innocuous air. The zones of death were disguised areas beyond the round of everyday camp routine. No one had access to them except the Sonderkommandos—the corpse carriers and oven stokers. The zone of death was taboo, a place of mystery where the power to kill could unfold unhindered.
Sofsky (54)

Ravensbrück

 Himmler visiting the camp and the same site today. The Ravensbrück concentration camp was the largest concentration camp for women in Germany, and second in size only to the women's camp in Auschwitz-Birkenau. After the closure of the Lichtenburg camp in 1939, Ravensbrück was also the only main concentration camp, as opposed to subcamp, designated almost exclusively for women.  German authorities began construction of the camp in November 1938 as SS authorities transported about 500 male prisoners from the Sachsenhausen concentration camp to the proposed site to construct the Ravensbrück camp. By the end of 1942, the female inmate population of Ravensbrück had reached about 10,000. In January 1945, the camp had more than 50,000 prisoners, mostly women, from over 30 countries including political prisoners, “asocials”, Jews, Jehovah's Witnesses, "criminals," "work-shy," and "race defilers." 
By January 1945 the barracks were horribly overcrowded. This overcrowding, aggravated by abominable sanitary conditions, resulted in a typhus epidemic that spread throughout the camp.  Periodically, the SS authorities subjected prisoners in the camp to "selections" in which the Germans isolated those prisoners considered too weak or injured to work and killed them. At first, "selected" prisoners were shot. In early 1945, the SS constructed a gas chamber in Ravensbrück near the camp crematorium, gassing between 5,000 and 6,000 prisoners before Soviet troops liberated the camp in April 1945.  Starting in the summer of 1942, SS medical doctors subjected prisoners at Ravensbrück to unethical medical experiments. SS doctors experimented with treating wounds with various chemical substances (such as sulfanilamide) to prevent infections. They also tested various methods of setting and transplanting bones; such experiments included amputations. The SS selected nearly 80 women, mostly Polish, for these experiments. Many of the women died as a result, the survivors often suffering permanent physical damage.

Falkensee
 
Situated at the western border of Berlin in Brandenburg, during the Second World War the Demag-Panzerwerke subcamp of the Sachsenhausen concentration camp was located here. At its height, 2,500 people were imprisoned in the camp and used as slave labour. Schlageterstraße, named after the pre-Nazi nationalist martyr, then and now as Hansa-Straße.

Belzig
 
Showing Eisenhardt Castle then and now, Bad Belzig is the capital of the Potsdam-Mittelmark district 43 miles southwest of Berlin. In 1934 ammunition works were established in Bad Belzig including a labour camp with about 1500 forced labourers. During the years 1936-1945, Burg Eisenhardt was the site of the Reichsschule (leadership school) for the Technischen Nothilfe ('technical emergency relief'). (The Technische Nothilfe was abolished in May, 1945, but the idea was revived by Otto Lummitzsch in the form of the Technisches Hilfswerk in 1950, which exists to this day as one of the pillars of the German civil protection infrastructure.) Between 1940 and 1945 a subcamp of the women's concentration camp Ravensbrück with about 750 inmates was also located nearby. Bad Belzig was also the site of a large radio transmitter station, erected in 1939.   

Chorin
The cloisters were founded by Cistercian monks in 1273, and 500 of them laboured over six decades to erect what is widely considered to be among the finest red-brick Gothic structures in northern Germany. The monastery was secularised in 1542 and fell into disrepair after the Thirty Years’ War. Renovation has gone on in a somewhat haphazard fashion since the early 19th century. Here show during the Nazi-era and today

Prenzlau Uckermark
 
The war memorial on Adolf Hitler Platz then and now 

 Treuenbrietzen 

Adolf-Hitler-Strasse then and now (renamed the Großstraße), with the Heilig-Geist-Kapelle (now serving the Heimatmuseum) in the foreground leading to the rathaus. 

Velten
 
Adolf-Hitler-Haus and today, on Karl-Liebknecht-Strasse 
 
The church with the ehrenmal and today