Showing posts with label Oberammergau. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Oberammergau. Show all posts

More Nazi Sites in Oberbayern

Herrsching am Ammersee
Herrsching am Ammersee on the east shore of the Ammersee southwest of Munich is usually the starting point of trips to Andechs Abbey. This, one of the most impressive Nazi eagles remaining in Germany, is found on the façade of the former Reichsfinanzschule (finance school). 
Built in 1938, the whole site on Rauscher Strasse is a protected monument. The Feierhalle in the south of the complex continues to be graced by the largest remaining Nazi eagle. The congress hall, which could hold around a thousand people, is fronted by a fifteen step flight of stairs above which the Nazi eagle, which originally had a swastika in its claws, continues to be attached. The approximately ten metre high hall ends with a self-supporting beam ceiling; its supporting crossbeams with a length of 23 metres were carved in one piece from spruce from Bayerisch Eisenstein. The congress hall, as it was later called, also had a stage and a vestibule. To the south it was given a 15-step flight of stairs, above which an eagle was attached, with a swastika in its claws. The hall, located in the main axis of the former Reich Finance School, was changed in the 1950s to meet the needs of the University of Applied Sciences for Public Administration and Justice in Bavaria and renovated in the 1970s. After considerable moisture damage in the roof area, the roof construction was renovated with over 23 metres of spanning solid wood trusses and the hall was redesigned into a modern multi-purpose hall.
The history of the site begins in 1928 when the then State Secretary at the Ministry of Finance, Fritz Reinhardt, founded a Nazi speaking school in Herrsching. In 1935 he announced the plans for the establishment of a Reich Tax School in Herrsching. On July 29, 1935, the Reich Ministry of Finance decreed that from August 1, 1935, the Reich Tax School in Herrsching would start its work as an independent department and be subordinate to the Munich State Tax Office. The school was opened on August 1, 1935 in the renovated hall of the “Andechser Hof” inn in the presence of numerous guests of honour. State Secretary Reinhardt gave the opening speech and introduced the headmaster Dr. Bussigl, its initial three teachers and the administrative manager. 

The choice for the complex fell on a plot of land located within the hamlet of Rausch whilst the municipality of Herrsching had to bear the cost of the land acquisition which cost 25,000 Reichsmarks. The groundbreaking ceremony was carried out by the-then Reich Finance Minister, Count Schwerin von Krosigk. The plans of the complex came under the direction of Ministerialrat Dr.-Ing. Fiddlers although the original concept would change over several times. However, the basic concept of a three-wing complex with a south-facing, three-storey central building was always retained. The school and teaching capacity were planned for an accommodation capacity of 400 men. Part of the planning was the construction of a large gym which, along with the rest of the complex, was part of the 1933 job creation program through which up to three hundred workers were employed, which allowed the shell to be completed within a year. The topping-out ceremony was celebrated on October 17, 1936. On September 15, 1937, the building was formally opened. The complex was laid out like a barracks inside and out with space for sporting activities as well as for off-road exercises and drills. The classrooms held between 100 and 150 students who had to sit in a row on wooden benches. The equipment of the accommodations was simple and functional.The strictly regulated everyday school life was shaped by the zeitgeist of the time- all teachers and students belonged to the newly founded "SA-Sturm RFS". The training was interspersed with teaching content about the Nazi ideology; in the evening there were social events as well as camaraderie evenings with lectures on National Socialism.

As soon as the school was finished, plans were already being made to expand it for two reasons. On the one hand, as a result of the favorable economic and tax development, more and better-trained junior officials were needed in the tax offices. On the other hand, it was important to improve the school's water supply, which was inadequate from the start. Therefore, a thirty metre-high residential tower made of quarry stone masonry was built on the east wing of the complex, which contained a large water tank on its upper floors giving the school its monumentality, which was visible from afar as seen in my GIF above. Eventually however the bell tower of the central building was sacrificed to the changed overall impression and demolished.
 The total cost of setting up the Reich Finance School was 6.6 million Reichsmarks.
During the war, the training of tax officials suffered from staff shortages. By mid-1940, fourteen teachers and five administrators had been drafted and therefore the duration of the training was shortened. The school regulations were adapted to those of an officers' school and thus the training was even more militarised until training ended on July 7, 1943 when the school became an hospital and later a lung sanatorium. At the end of 1943, the Herrsching reserve hospital was housed in the Reich Finance School. Operating rooms and hospital rooms were created from the classrooms and accommodations. The occupancy rate was very high, which is why the hospital employees had to live outside the site. 
After the war the school was converted into a PoW hospital and rehab facility for soldiers who had lost limbs. In 1947 the Bavarian State Chancellery decided to make the site available as a sanatorium for tuberculosis patients. As a result of the decline in illnesses, as well as because capacities had become free in the nearby Gauting Lung Sanatorium, a return to its former use led it to be handed over to the Federal Tax Administration on March 31, 1955.

The High Street on June 14, 1939
Himmler recorded in his diary entry of July 28, 1915 his family's arrival at the station here in Mühldorf, a year into the Great War. Although the jubilant patriotism had by now dissipated, he couldn't help having vivid recollections of the previous summer, "when we stood at about the same time on the platform, doing army drill. It was 6 August when we came back from Tittmoning. A few days later they went off cheerfully to war. How many of them are alive today?"
 In the course of the so-called 1918 November Revolution, a workers 'and soldiers' council was formed in Mühldorf. On the evening of April 25 1919 Mühldorf was also occupied by a group of Spartakists; five days later the insurgents were brutally disarmed and arrested by government troops. Hitler gave a speech to 5,000 here at the Mühldorfer Rennbahn in June 1931. His followers, including Ernst Rohm, were all dressed in white shirts as a march in the Braun shirt had been banned in the run-up. In 1933, the Mühldorf town council made Hitler an honorary citizen. As in the rest of the country, under the Nazis anti-Semitic measures began in Mühldorf although there were only two Jewish families in the city- the Michaelis family and the Hellmann family. Fritz Michaelis, a bearer of the Iron Cross as well as the wounded badge, had to close his business in April 1937. Horse merchant Hellmann was able to pursue his business until 1938, but finally had to close after being attacked in the pages of Der Sturmer. Nevertheless the city remained spared from the November pogroms in 1938.     
Adolf-Hitler-Platz and today
 The Nazis tried to fight unemployment in Mühldorf through various infrastructure projects and job creation measures and so, as seen in the changes shown in the GIFs, throughout the 1930s numerous buildings were built. Through the German Labour Front's subsidiary organisation “Kraft durch Freude” (KdF), in July 1939 two hundred citizens of the districts of Mühldorf and Altötting were chosen to take part on a cruise to Norway. The tour group also included district leader Fritz Schwaegerl and Mühldorf's mayor Hans Gollwitzer. One participant was later quoted in the local paper the Mühldorfer Zeitung on July 7, 1939 that "[t]he people on the bank waved to us, we waved back and thanked the guide who had made the trip possible for us, with a 'Sieg Heil'." Born in Erding, Gollwitzer would serve as mayor throughout the Nazi era from 1937 to 1945 and again after the war from 1952 to 1966. During the war he served as a major and battalion commander in Russia and France until 1943. In 1945 he had the city surrender to the Americans and was removed from his position as mayor on May 2, 1945. Because of his work as a Nazi functionary, he was interned for a period of three years in Moosburg and had his honorary citizenship from Mühldorf- which he had received on October 13, 1934- withdrawn in 1946. After his internment in the Moosburg camp, he first lived in Egglkofen. In 1971 he was made an honorary citizen of Mühldorf again. Today a street in Mühldorf is named after him, which is not without controversy due to his past as a staunch Nazi.
During the course of the Nazis' "T4" campaign when, from 1939 people with physical and mental disabilities began to be murdered, the residents of the town's Ecksberg institution were killed. Even after officially being 'discontinued' in August 1941 after violent protests by the population nationwide, in 1943 when the Ecksberg facility was again occupied with with 500 patients and foster children from all over Germany. The staff let many die of malnourishment and neglect. 197 people died this way within eighteen months. One of the victims was Carl Rotthaus, who had suffered a brain injury in the First World War. He came to Ecksberg via several institutions in August 1943, where he died on November 4, 1943. Even before then when, in September 1940 most of the Ecksberg foster children were transferred to the Gabersee and Eglfing-Haar institutions, 241 of them were murdered through gas and cremated in the Hartheim asylum near Linz. From May 1944 to May 1945, the Todt Organisation used the building as a location for the "Weingut I" armaments project.
The town hall during the Nazi era and today, the figure on the fountain sporting an anti-Wuhan 'flu mask
The Münchener tor showing its redevelopment
The war came to Mühldorf for the first time on March 19, 1945 when seven hundred American planes, including 250 B-24 bombers, dropped 6,000 bombs over the city, mainly above the railway station, one of the largest transhipment stations in Bavaria, killing 129 people, including numerous children. A month later, on April 20, bombs were dropped again over the city and killed fifteen citizens. The two attacks destroyed about 40% of the entire residential area, numerous commercial and industrial plants as well as 330,000 m² of track systems, the real target of the attacks. In 1944, the construction of a huge secret bunker complex for the production of the Messerschmitt Me 262 began after Hitler's orders of April 21 gave official approval for the commencement of work on the structure. Four days later the forest camp was cleared and the prisoners removed. Around 44 American air personnel are thought to have perished during the return flight following one of these raids. Civilian casualties are believed to be much higher due to many aircraft crews being unable to identify their primary objectives. On May 2, American troops from the 47th Panzer Battalion of the 14th Division finally reached the city from the west. Mayor Gollwitzer was able to convince the Mühldorfer combat commander to refrain from defending the city, surrendering the city to the American battalion commander without any struggle. However, withdrawing German troops still blew up the bridge. After the war, 480 prisoners from a mass grave of the forest camp were buried at the concentration camp concentration camp in Mühldorf. On the day of the service, on June 2, 1945, a large part of the population, in response to the American military administration ordering the inhabitants to attend whilst surrounded by tanks, were witness to the disinterment of hundreds of corpses whose coffins had been opened for inspection. The memorial stone on Ahamerstraße speaks only generally of victims and does not mention that they were murdered concentration camp prisoners. Due to increased activity of British and American bombing, Germany was forced to concentrate on fighter aircraft and the regime ordered all factories still producing bombers to immediately begin production of defensive fighter aircraft through what was known as known as the Jaegerprogramm. Under this plan, it was envisioned that the bunker in Mühldorf, once completed, would produce over nine hundred of the new Messerschmitt Me-262 jetfighters per month. To ensure this figure, the production of various Me-262 parts were to be divided amongst local workshops within the region. For example, the bunker here in Mettenheim was tasked with producing the engines and airframes while the final production and assembly would take place in the Landsberg bunker. From there, the aircraft could use the makeshift runway to take off and fly to their destination.  Germany’s civil and military engineering group, the Organisation Todt, planned and organised the secret project which was called "Weingut I".  A project of this scale required a large workforce. At the beginning of 1942, the Germans had forcefully recruited millions of people from occupied territories to work as labourers in the German armament industry. The man in charge of this was Fritz Sauckel, Generalbevollmaechtigten für den Arbeitseinsatz. Alone the bunker in the Mettenheim would require at least eight thousand workers. The Organisation Todt supplied the engineers, management and master chiefs whilst the majority of the ten thousand labourers were composed of prisoners of war and concentration camp inmates from Dachau. Concentration camp inmates were classified as Hilfsarbeiter and "paid" sixty Pfennigs an hour at the end of each month; in fact, the inmates never saw the money. 
The site today has been described by Geoffrey R. Walden as "one of the most impressive Third Reich ruins sites I have visited." Despite the massive visible damage on the only surviving arch (twelve were originally planned), the structure permits some insight into the construction techniques used to build it. The original plans called for the bunker to be four hundred metres in length from east to west. A single semi circular roof arch was to measure 33 metres in width and was separated from the next arch by a thirty centimetre gap, which was to be covered as soon as the bunker was completed. The entire width of the bunker arch was 85 metres. The thickness of the roof was precisely three metres to which another two metres of concrete were to be added upon completion for a total thickness of five metres. The top layer of the roof was to be covered with earth to promote tree and plant growth which would serve as natural camouflage against enemy aerial reconnaissance. A five metre thick wall was planned to cover both entrances which would add safety in case of air attacks and ground fire. Once the concrete foundations were planted, gravel and earth were shovelled over the closed Entnahmetunnel and foundations to help in the shaping of the arches. As soon as this was completed, the semicircular mound was smoothed and flattened and then covered with a ten centimetre-thick layer of concrete. Long metal rods were then inserted into the think concrete layer to act as the starting point for the three metre thick bunker roof. Most of the cement was created at the nearby cement mixing sites. Pumps pumping liquid cement were also employed in the building process.  It was originally planned that the bunker would have eight internal levels. Plans were also drawn up to add stairs, elevators and more pillars for added structural support although such plans were never realised given the war situation. By the end of April 1945, only seven arches had been completed due to disruptions in the supply of materials, air raids and lack of skilled workers. 

The bunker itself was never bombed by the Allies. American troops from the 47th tank battalion of the 14th Armoured Division reached the Inn River on May 2, 1945 and occupied the bunker and appropriate construction sites. Interestingly enough, the Americans allowed the involved firms to reclaim their equipment – possibly as means of reparations. The company was allowed to dismantle and remove its construction equipment, and the Reichsbahn took up the tracks that led to the complex whilst the Americans decided to use the grounds as a bomb test site in order to determine the effectiveness of the bunker.
In the summer of 1947, the Americans began placing explosives inside the bunker and parts of the nearby air raid shelter for demolishing purposes. After numerous tries, the Americans finally succeeded using 125 tonnes of dynamite which destroyed six of the seven completed arches and damaged the seventh.  
After the war the American military's Dachau Military Tribunal prosecuted perpetrators of war crimes in connection with the Weingut I project and the associated concentration and labour camps in the Mühldorf Trial. Amongst the accused were members of Polensky & Zöllner's administration, including Karl Bachmann, Director of the Munich branch of P & Z, Karl Gickeleiter, who oversaw construction at the main site, and Otto Sperling, construction foreman, all sentenced May 13, 1947. Eventually the charges against Bachmann were dropped, as his involvement in the maltreatment of the prisoners could not be proven. Gickeleiter was sentenced to a twenty year prison term, which would be reduced by half in 1951 before being released even earlier in mid 1952. The death sentence against Sperling was shortly thereafter shortened to life imprisonment and later reduced even further before he was finally released in July 1957 
From 1982 to 1983, a rumour began to circulate that there were still Wehrmacht supplies of a chemical nature being stored in the bunker. Only after an extensive cover-up did the government finally, in 1987, remove these chemicals, including CLARK 2. Under pressure from various groups, including the communities of Mettenheim and Ampfing, the bunker was eventually added to a Bavarian list of historic memorials which did not stop the Bundesfinanzministerium in 1991 from proposing to destroy the bunker site. Despite massive protests, demolition work took place in 1995-1996 with the tearing down of the nearby air raid shelter ruins. Due to this incident, the future existence of this historical site is questionable.

Markt Schwaben
Nazi-era postcard of the town. When American troops advanced towards Markt Schwaben at the end of April 1945, the Wehrmacht and ϟϟ had already left. The Nazis' local group leader had also fled. So the goods in the depots did not fall into the hands of the Americans, the mayor had the warehouses opened to the population. The residents of Markt Schwaben then used it to collect fabric, boots, leather and litres of schnapps. On the morning of May 1, American troops occupied the site without incident. One citizen of the town, Lorenz Ostermayr, who had once lived in New York, ran towards the enemy with a white flag and three prisoners of war and informed the Americans that there were no more German troops in Markt Schwaben. Amazingly, the American tank commander came from the same street in New York where Ostermayr had lived. About fifty former Jewish concentration camp prisoners gathered in the market square on the same day. On April 25, they escaped from a train in Poing that was supposed to bring them from the Mühldorf satellite camp in the direction of Tyrol. In the last days of the war, the Schwaben doctor Fritz Lichtenegger had set up an auxiliary hospital in Unterbräu, to which the emaciated refugees were brought. Some of them still died in the weeks that followed. The American soldiers searched the place house by house. In barracks, which were originally intended to house French prisoners of war, the Americans found the personnel records of the engineers who were involved in the development of the V2. An ϟϟ uniform was discovered at the doctor's house, Lichtenegger, whereupon after a short trial, he was executed by the Americans. After the war, many expellees from the former German eastern regions settled in Markt Schwaben. Street names such as Königsberger, Neusatzer or Ödenburger Straße in the southwest of Markt Schwaben are reminders of this. During this time, the population consisted mainly of typically down-to-earth traders who supplied the market and the surrounding villages with products. Many streets were named in memory of them when the town was given street names in the early 1960s such as Weißgerberweg, Kupferschmiedberg, Nagelschmiedgasse. 
A couple of scenes from The Great Escape were shot here.  Flight Lieutenant Colin Blythe (Donald Pleasence) and Flight Lieutenant Robert Hendley (James Garner) hiding from the Germans during the Great Escape; the clock tower of the parish church St. Margaret in Markt Schwaben serving as a reference point. Pleasence had actually been an RAF pilot who had been shot down, held prisoner and tortured by the Germans during the war. After offering advice to the film's director John Sturges, he was politely told to mind his own business. Later, when another star informed Sturges that Pleasence had actually been a RAF Officer in a Stalag camp, Sturges requested his technical advice and input on historical accuracy from that point forward. A number of individual incidents shown in the film were mostly based on fact, but rearranged both chronologically and regarding the people involved as noted at the start of the film. In reality, of the 76 who escaped, three had managed to succeed whilst fifty were murdered in reprisal, but in small groups and not all at once.  Flying Officer Louis Sedgwick (James Coburn) stealing a bike on Ebersberger Straße in Markt Schwaben, named Neustadt in the film. The successful escape of  Coburn's Australian character, Sedgwick, via Spain was based on Dutchman Bram van der Stok. Coburn, an American, was cast in the role of Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) Flying Officer Louis Sedgwick who was an amalgamation of Flight Lieutenant Albert Hake, an Australian serving in the RAF, the camp's compass maker, and Johnny Travis, the real manufacturer.
Based loosely on a true story based on Paul Brickhill's 1950 book about the real-life mass escape by British Commonwealth PoWs from Stalag Luft III in Sagan (now Żagań, Poland), the first part of the film focuses on the escape efforts within the camp and the process of secretly digging an escape tunnel. The second half of the film deals with the massive effort by the German Gestapo to track down the over seventy escaped prisoners individually attempting to make their way to England.
As one sadly expects from American films, the nationality of most of the prisoners were changed to emphasise the role of Americans at the expense of British Imperial heroes.
Indeed, the real escape was by British and other allied personnel, none by Americans. Coburn actually plays an Australian. Whilst Americans in the PoW camp did initially help to build the tunnels and work on the early escape plans, they were moved to their own compound seven months before the tunnels were completed. A large part had been played by Canadians, especially in the construction of the tunnels and in the escape itself. Of the 1,800 or so PoWs in the compound of whom six hundred were involved in preparations for the escape, 150 of these were from the Dominion of Canada; Wally Floody, an RCAF pilot and mining engineer who was the real-life “tunnel king”, was engaged as a technical advisor for the film. Fourteen Germans were executed after the war for their roles, which ended up being among the charges at the Nuremberg War Crimes trial.
Coburn making his way down the other way, showing how much has changed since the film was shot. 
After being contacted by Don J Whistance whose site provides "inexhaustible" detailed knowledge of the making of the film, I was able to visit the location used in the opening of the film (although this is not the Dening north of Munich). Here a convoy of Germans are heading towards the town of Deinig with the Alps behind which, along with the town church, some buildings and topography provide continuity with today. I can't however share
Mr. Whistance's enthusiasm for Steve McQueen who was put up in a chalet in Deining, and whose incessant selfish behaviour and self-absorbed petulance sums up his personality for me, as related later by his former wife Neile McQueen Toffel in her book My Husband, My Friend: A Memoir (99-100):
To house Steve, me, and our children, the company had found us a beautiful chalet in Deining, Bavaria. The forty-minute drive to the Geiselgasteig Studios was good for Steve, for it provided him his "creative thinking time, but not so good for the farmers who used the narrow roads: Steve made up his own rules as it suited him. John Sturges and company spent half their time keeping him out of jail. Every time Steve came on the set the German police would be right behind him. John would quickly reprimand him with, “You cannot drive through a flock of chickens and you cannot drive into the woods and then come back onto the road to pass somebody. You cannot drive faster than makes sense or you will hurt yourself.” But when Steve was troubled, driving around was the answer. It helped to calm him.And troubled he was during the first three weeks of the picture....

As costar James Garner would relate, he and Steve Coburn would have to beg McQueen to cooperate after refusing to work until his part was rewritten, asking "What's your problem, Steve?" Apparently "after a few hours of tlakng, Steve wanted to be the hero but didn't want to do anything heroic." 

The convoy later continues just outside the next town, Egling, along a road that no longer exists. Whistance provides a 1954 map showing the original layout with its location today. Marc Eliot's biography references Deining, as well as relating the need for the studio to pay for a minder to try to stop him from driving over the (already liberal) speed limit around the area:

When Steve was told about the locale change, he was both excited—he had, since his merchant marine days, always loved to travel to new countries—and concerned. He enjoyed being overseas, but it meant he would be away from Hollywood for a solid year, except for the few weeks following the completion of The War Lover. He didn't want to become one of those American actors who only worked abroad. Sturges calmed his fears by reminding him he had top billing for the first time in his career and assuring him that he and the family would be put up in a beautiful chalet in Deining, Bavaria. Plus, Sturges pointed out, there were no speed limits in Germany. Technically that wasn't true-only the autobahn had no speed limit; limits on local roads were strictly enforced—but it was enough to get Steve to consent to the German shoot. To prevent Steve from speeding anywhere besides the autobahn, and potentially being arrested and delaying the production, Sturges hired a private escort to make sure he stayed within the legal limit when he drove.
Adolf-Hitler-Platz then and visiting today, now renamed Marienplatz. Weilheim played a role after the failed Beer Hall coup of November 9, 1923 when Hitler fled to Uffing am Staffelsee to hide under the protection of Helene Hanfstaengl, whose husband Ernst Hanfstaengl was also involved in the coup. Two days later on Sunday, November 11 Lieutenant Rudolf Belleville, the Commander in Chief of Landeswehr Weilheim, received the order to arrest Hitler at Villa Hanfstaengl at 16.20. In Uffing at the villa of Hanfstaengl's mother Katharina he searched with ten state police officers and a gendarme for an hour and a half. Only after a direct telephone conversation with Helene Hanfstaengl did he go to their villa. Shortly before their arrival Hitler dictated his political will.  According to Hanfstaengl's at times self-serving memoirs, Helene eluded Hitler's pistol. Hitler was finally arrested without resistance by Belleville, whom he had personally known. The group then drove back here to Weilheim where Hitler spent the night and at 10.45 the next day Hitler was taken by 39 guards to the fortress prison in Landsberg-am-Lech. 
The Vier-Jahreszeiten-Brunnen at the former Adolf-Hitler-Platz as seen in a Nazi-era postcard and today. A decade after the putsch attempt when Hitler managed to take power, Weilheim had 6,659 inhabitants, mostly influenced by the middle class (traders, craftsmen) leaving the town politically conservative. This was reflected in the election results: from 1919 to 1932, the Bavarian People's Party (BVP) consistently received more than a third of the votes  The fear of the middle class against the Communists was probably one of the reasons why the Nazis, received a remarkable 14% of the votes in the state elections in 1924. In the elections in July and November 1932, the Nazis in Weilheim were able to collect a quarter of the votes, capitalising on the ongoing unemployment crisis which contributed to poverty and hardship in Weilheim. Up until September 1933 there had been two and a half million applications for membership of the Nazi Party from the town's citizens.
As Eric Sangar relates in Alltag und Stimmung in Weilheim während des Nationalsozialismus, in the elections in March 1933, the Nazi vote in Weilheim was 45%, slightly above the average result in Germany. Despite such consistent support, the mood in Weilheim deviated very much from that in the rest of Germany in regards to the murderous events of the Night of the Long Knives, with the Protestant pastor of Weilheim, Gustav Steger, remarking how many people must have perceived the mendacity of the Nazi propaganda due to the fact that prominent representatives from the town's conservative and Catholic milieu were among the victims of the "purge", including them Dr. Wilhelm Schmid, who had already been detained in the Dachau concentration camp. Two years later as Germany hosted the Olympic Games,  the recognition that the regime received from abroad on account of the Olympic Games seemed to refute scepticism, and the mood in Weilheim was also positive, especially given that the town benefited directly from the construction of the“ Olympic Road ” to Garmisch-Partenkirchen, today's B2.
Another two years later on the occasion of the anschluß with Austria, support grew even more because it was much easier now to go to Austria for a mountain hike, as an example, since the previous border crossing fee of 500 RM was no longer applicable.
Otto Hoffmeister HausOtto Hoffmeister Haus on the left, used as a youth hostel during the Third Reich.
Weilheim saw the end of the war with the occupation of the city by American troops on April 29, 1945. On April 30, 1945, the last Nazi mayor, who had been in office since 1944, and with him the city councillors still in office, were deposed, the police were disarmed and later dissolved, and the American military government assumed all powers from then on. The military government also ordered the transportation of liberated prisoners from concentration and labour camps to Weilheim and ensured their accommodation there. By May there saw an additional four thousand people in the town, all of whose accommodation and supplies had to be ensured by Weilheim. 
A few miles from Weilheim is the town of Peißenberg, here showing its war memorial that had originally been dated 1926 but has since come to represent the dead of two world wars. It is of particular interest given the two steel-helmeted soldiers flanking a crucified Christ.  Originally named Unterpeißenberg until 1919, it served as a mining town from the nineteenth century; in December 1919, fifteen miners were killed in explosions in the Peißenberg mine. During the war there was an air raid on Peißenberg on February 27, 1945, which was probably intended to hit the mine but instead struck buildings between Maistraße and Landesweg, including
Schweitzerweg and Genossenschaftsstraße, killing a number of inhabitants. 
View of the  Rottenbuch Abbey church, founded by the Bavarian Duke Welf IV in 1073, from a Nazi-era postcard and today as I cycled through. It's reached by the the Echelsbach Bridge which, with a span of 130 metres, length of 183 metres and reaching 76 metres above the valley floor, is the most widely spanned Melan arch bridge in the world. In the last days of the war,  the Americans were advancing from Augsburg towards Garmisch-Partenkirchen. To prevent this advance, fanatical
ϟϟ troops wanted to delay their advance by blowing up the bridge. It was saved by road supervisor Lorenz Utschneider who ended up being the only one who had the courage to prevent this demolition at risk of death. Closely involved in the construction of the Echelsbacher Bridge in 1928-29, he was intimately aware of its structure. So in April 1945 as the Americans were advancing towards Garmisch-Partenkirchen, Utschneider approached the Hitler Youth guarding the bridge to run away. At the bridge itself, then under strict surveillance by the ϟϟ, Utschneider asked an ϟϟ major not to blow it up. Surrepticiously he first removed the detonators and then covered the blasting shafts with clay knowing he would have been shot immediately had he been caught. By the time the Americans arrived to find a completely intact Echelsbach bridge as they advanced, Utschneider had to hide as a declared 'Verräter und Schleimer' in Bad Bayersoien.

The house where Hitler fled to after his disastrous Beer Hall putsch attempt in November 1923. The Hanfstaengls country house was, as  Hanfstaengl himself remarked, “[t]he last place it would have occurred to me to go was my own home in Uffing, where I surely would be caught and arrested” having like other Nazis fled immediately to Austria. But, as John Sedgwick relates, 
Hitler had always displayed a fascination with Putzi’s attractive wife, Helene. Bizarrely, Hitler often gave her flowers and hand kisses, once even dropping to his knees to profess his love for her. When the frightened Hitler burst in that night, Helene hid him in the attic. In the morning when she rushed upstairs to tell Hitler the police had come to arrest him, she found him “in a state of frenzy.” He pulled out a revolver. “This is the end,” he declared. “I will never let these swine take me. I will shoot myself first.” In Putzi’s account, Helene grabbed the gun and jerked it out of the startled leader’s hand before he had a chance to pull the trigger. If that happened—and there are no other accounts to corroborate it—it was one of the most fateful single acts in modern history. Moments later, the police hauled Hitler away to prison.
The kriegsgräberstätte Hallabruck hufschlag war cemetery. In 1951 Traunstein agreed to create a military cemetery on the district of Hohes Kreuz, established in agreement with the Bavarian State Government. Various renowned artists put their skills to prepare for the war dead of the Chiemgau a worthy final resting place. The solemn inauguration followed on May 30, 1954; a general renovation took place in 1994 her graduation. 1,037 war dead from 73 different communities found their final resting place here, including among them 26 soldiers of the First World War alongside 57 victims of the bombing attack on Traunstein on April 18, 1945. The cemetery is located on a slope of the steep bank high above the Traun allowing visitors to look over the city to the nearby Chiemgau Alps. A narrow footpath leads from the city up the slope, towards the wooden shingle-covered chapel. A colourful glass window lets subdued light into the high room, from whose centre the stone figure of the Archangel Michael protrudes. On the round wall of the chapel in Sgraffito the names of the dead buried in the cemetery are commemorated. On the slightly curved rows of graves rise from the plant dress of St. John's wort and lilies symbolic stone cross groups like the silent watch. The grave of each dead person is marked with a name plate of burned clay. Beech and oak trees arch their mighty tops over the square concluding with a ten metre high wooden cross framed by the foliage of the surrounding trees.  

 Hitler with soldiers in Traunstein, January 1919. When Hitler returned to Munich after the end of the Great War, he was reunited his closest front-line comrade to have survived the war, Ernst Schmidt.

Soon bored after their arrival at the List Regiment barracks, they both applied for guard duty at a PoW camp here in Traunstein, shown here on the right looking down on the old town during the time and today. Here he served alongside 140 enlisted men and two noncommissioned officers from the Ersatz Battalion of their regiment ordered to do service in the town. In total, fifteen men from Hitler's company had been picked to work in the camp. Hitler's medical status may well have landed him on the list of soldiers bound for Traunstein, as locals in the town described the unit in which he was to serve as being essentially a "convalescent unit. Hitler and Schmidt would later claim for political expediency that they had volunteered for service in Traunstein, so as to support the story that the future leader of the Nazi Party had returned from the war as an almost fully minted Nazi and hence had felt nothing but disgust toward revolutionary Munich. Hitler claimed in Mein Kampf that his service in "the reserve battalion of my regiment which was in the hands of 'Soldiers' Councils [ ... ] disgusted me to such a degree that I decided at once to go away again if possible. Together with my faithful war comrade, Schmiedt Ernst, I now came to Traunstein and remained there till the camp was broken up."

In truth, only by joining a Freikorps or by agreeing to be demobilised could Hitler have avoided serving Eisner's regime.  Contrary to the claim by Nazi propaganda that Hitler's task was to police the comings and goings at the gate to the camp, meant to support the story of him as an upright, counterrevolutionary future Nazi who had escaped the madness of Munich to uphold order, he seems to have worked in the clothing distribution centre of the camp, carrying out tasks similar to those assigned to him in Munich. In other words, Hitler served the revolutionary regime in Traunstein in a position at the very bottom of the camp's pecking order. On his arrival in Traunstein, the camp was well below full capacity. Only sixty-five French P0Ws and approximately six hundred Russian PoWs were left. This was almost certainly the first time in his life that Hitler encountered a large number of Russians at close quarters. He also was exposed to a group of Jews who were housed together as belonging to one ethnicity, as camp authorities expected that Russian PoWs would be repatriated by ethnicity due to the breakup of the tsarist empire. Frustratingly, it remains unclear what the impact was of Hitler's encounter with the captives from the country that ultimately would become so central to his ideology as well as with the religious community with which he soon would become so obsessed. He arrived in the camp at a time of few remaining tensions between the Russian POWs and their captors. The minimally supervised prisoners felt politically close to Bavaria's leader Kurt Eisner.
Thomas Weber, Becoming Hitler: The Making of a Nazi

With the Nazi seizure of power in 1933 an active period of persecution for political dissidents and Jewish fellow citizens began. By November 1938 all Jewish residents of the town had been forcibly removed. Open political resistance during the war years was limited; the town priest, Josef Stelze, was placed briefly in custody, Rupert Berger, Bavarian People's Party representative and the first post-war elected Mayor of Traunstein, was for a period incarcerated in the Dachau concentration camp. In 1939 Traunstein had an estimated population of 11,500. By the end of the war 523 of that number were registered as killed as a direct result of the conflict, a further 73 registered as missing. During the later stages of the Second World War Traunstein was four times the target of American aerial bombardment: on November 11, 1944, on January 21, 1945, on April 18, 1945, and finally on April 25, 1945. It was in April 1945 that the heavy air raids destroyed much of the Traunstein station area, an event in which over an hundred people died. Shortly after on May 2, 1945, a train with Jewish concentration camp detainees passed through Traunstein. The following day 61 of the detainees were shot in Surberg, where a memorial commemorates them. The town surrendered without a struggle on May 3, 1945. During the war a subcamp of Dachau concentration camp was located here. 


With Drake Winston at schloß Kaltenberg for the annual Kaltenberger Ritterturnier, possibly the greatest medæival tournament in the world. Located in the village of the same name in the municipality of Geltendorf near Lake Ammer in the district of Landsberg am Lech, the schloß was built in 1292 and is now owned by Luitpold Prince of Bavaria, the great-grandson of the last Bavarian King Ludwig III. From 1916 to 1939 it was owned by the Schülein family. Joseph Schülein and his son Fritz ran the castle's brewery and estate with great success, which also involved peat cutting and sheep farming in the Emminger Moos. In February 1939, Fritz Schülein's properties were expropriated as part of the Aryanisation campaign against Jews and he was interned in Dachau on November 10, 1938. Gut Kaltenberg was subordinated to the government of Upper Bavaria. In 1948, Fritz Schülein was restituted after lengthy negotiations with the compensation authority. In 1954, Schloss Kaltenberg was sold to the Wittelsbach house. The castle is now the residence of Luitpold Prince of Bavaria and his family. The Kaltenberger Ritterturnier, launched by Luitpold Prince of Bavaria in 1980, is a historicising medæival knight stunt show on the grounds of Kaltenberg Castle involving the knight's tournament, a supporting programme with musicians, dancers, jugglers, storytellers, "witches", court jesters, et cet. which takes place in the arena and on open-air stages around the castle. 

The burgtor then and now. The town was affected in the last days of the war by air raids as its defences posed the last real German strength faced by the Americans. Within Rosenheim kreis is the the birthplace of Pope Benedict XVI's mother, German politician Edmund Stoiber and footballer Bastian Schweinsteiger of Bayern Munich. It was also the home of Willy Sachs, industrialist, ϟϟ-Obersturmbannführer and military economic leader during the war. Sachs had been a holder of the Federal Cross of Merit and was an honorary citizen of Oberaudorf. In 1933 he became a member of the ϟϟ (membership number 87,064) and the Nazi Party (membership number 2,547,272). As the head of an armaments company, he was a military economist. Himmler awarded him medals and honorary titles, including ϟϟ-Obersturmbannführer in 1943. Göring was a guest at one of his organised hunts in Mainberg and on the Rechenau; Reinhard Heydrich received a loan from Sachs. Willy Sachs Stadium, at that time one of the most modern and spacious facilities in southern Germany, was named after him in 1936. The campaign to rename the stadium because of his Nazi involvement, met with little approval from the general public. In May 1945, Sachs was arrested by the Americans in Oberaudorf and interned until February 1947. His denazification labelled him a "fellow traveller" (Category IV) which author Wilfried Rott describes as a “white washing,” writing how “[t]o instrumentalise Jewish acquaintances for yourself afterwards and simply to ignore the cold Aryanisation of business partner Max Goldschmidt is one of the darkest moments of this denazification, which was otherwise as euphemistic and belittling as that of most comparable cases.” Sachs killed himself in the town on November 19, 1958 after shooting himself at the age of 62 following depression and the fear of blackmail. 20,000 people attended his funeral. 
Adolf-Hitler-Platz from a Nazi-era postcard and how it appears today. Now Marienplatz, this is the site of the book burning on May 7, 1933 as part of a large rally for the "Day of German Youth." Whilst elsewhere, especially in larger cities, student bodies carried out the book burning, in Wasserburg due to a lack of students it was the youth who were called upon to carry out this act as seen in the photo below. As a basis for the symbolic act in the act of burning, people lined up and listened to one or more speakers in which the following was proclaimed:
“1st caller: Against class struggle and materialism, for national community and an idealistic way of life! I hand over to the flame the writings of Marx and Kautsky.
2nd caller: Against decadence and moral decay! For discipline and morality in family and state! I hand over to the flame the writings of Heinrich Mann, Ernst Glaeser and Erich Kästner.
3rd caller: Against ideological scoundrelship and political betrayal, for devotion to the people and state! I hand over to the flame the writings of Friedrich Wilhelm Foerster.
4th Caller: Against soul-destroying overestimation of instinctual life, for the nobility of the human soul! I give the flame the writings of Sigmund Freud.
5th Caller: Against falsification of our history and denigration of its great figures, for reverence for our past! I give the flame the writings of Emil Ludwig and Werner Hegemann.
6th Caller: Against journalism alien to the people of democratic-Jewish character, for responsible cooperation in the work of national construction! I give the flame the writings of Theodor Wolff and Georg Bernhard.
7th Caller: Against literary betrayal of the soldiers of the World War, for educating the people in the spirit of defense! I give the flame the writings of Erich Maria Remarque.
8th Caller: Against conceited bastardisation of the German language, for the care of our people's most precious asset! I give the flame the writings of Alfred Kerr.
9. Caller: Against impudence and arrogance, for respect and reverence for the immortal God. 
One notable example of the so-called aryanisation in Wasserburg am Inn involved the Jewish-owned business of Max and Ida Stern. The Sterns owned a prosperous textile and clothing storeand under the pressure of the Nazi regime's anti-Semitic laws and increasing persecution, the Sterns were forced to sell their business at a fraction of its value to a non-Jewish German businessman. This coerced sale, a direct result of the Aryanisation policy, exemplifies the economic dispossession that many Jewish families in Wasserburg faced during this period. 
Herrenstrasse before the war and today. Infamously 742 patients of the town's Gabersee and Attl medical and nursing homes became victims of Nazi "euthanasia"representing a significant loss of life for a town of Wasserburg's size. Their murders were concealed; their names today commemorated on a Wasserburg memorial. The fact that these two local medical facilities were directly involved in carrying out the regime's genocidal policies demonstrates how deeply Nazi ideology penetrated into Wasserburg's institutions. After the war, these events were largely kept secret and shamefully silenced for a long time. In recent years, Wasserburg has made efforts to commemorate these victims. The town has created a memorial that lists the names of the victims, aiming to bring them back into family and collective memory which represents a shift in how the town engages with its Nazi-era past as the events have become a subject of local historical research. For instance, in 1994, the 'Stiftung Attl' published a brochure that was the first local examination of the Nazi euthanasia victims and the T4 murders. The Bezirk Oberbayern/Bezirksarchiv now holds patient files that allow for biographical research into the victims, creating a resource for families and researchers to learn more about individual victims. The problem is that research into this topic is difficult. District archivist Nikolaus Braun has carried out years of extensive research into the relocated former Gabersee patients for the project of naming the victims at the Wasserburg memorial. 
Cycling into the town over the river Inn. From 1922 to 1941, Dr. Friedrich Utz headed the Gabersee sanitorium. The sanatorium and nursing home was subject to serious upheavals during the Nazi era in which economic austerity, the institution's eugenic orientation, and the deportation and murder of patients shaped its history between 1933 and its closure in 1941. From June 1940, selections were carried out in Gabersee to prepare for the murder of the sick. From November 1940, 542 patients from Gabersee were deported to the Hartheim killing center and murdered there. Among them were 45 people from the Ecksberg institution who had been transferred to Gabersee in September 1940. In four transports in November 1940 and on January 17, 1941, 472 patients from the Gabersee institution were taken to a “Reich institution” – the Hartheim killing centre – and murdered there. Another transport took place from Gabersee on January 15, 1941 via Eglfing-Haar to Hartheim. Later transports from Eglfing-Haar also included patients from the former Gabersee institution, so that a total of 497 victims from Gabersee were to be mourned. In addition, there were 45 patients from the dissolved Ecksberg institution, who had only been transferred to Gabersee in September 1940 and who also became victims of “Operation T4”. At the beginning of 1941, Gabersee was closed and the remaining patients were transferred to the Eglfing-Haar sanatorium and nursing home. Many died as a result of systematically inadequate care and support or overdoses of medication in Eglfing-Haar and Kaufbeuren. In a June 20, 1941 diary entry Utz wrote how
[w]hilst up until the outbreak of war in 1914 the authorities were literally competing with each other in caring for the mentally ill, after the war they were seen as a burden and efforts were made to reduce costs for them. When National Socialism came to power in 1933 and applied its principle of state benefit to the mentally ill, it was all over. The Reich Institution was only the last resort.
On January 1, 1934, the “Law for the Prevention of Hereditarily Diseased Offspring” came into force, legalising the forced sterilisation of people deemed to have a hereditary disease and yet even before the law came into force, in November 1933 the Wasserburg local welfare association submitted applications for the sterilisation of six citizens living in Wasserburg "due to mental inferiority". Between 1934 and 1939, the procedure was applied for for 689 patients from Gabersee and sterilisations were carried out in 571 cases. The operations were carried out in Eglfing-Haar and in the municipal hospital in Wasserburg. As Utz would write, the transfer of patients to be sterilised to Eglfing-Haar "made them completely agitated" and "caused difficulties during the procedure." Operations on institutional patients were carried out exclusively in what was then the municipal hospital in Wasserburg from 1936 onwards. A Gabersee hospital doctor and a department nurse assisted in these operations. When in July 1934 one doctor, Dr. Lionel Müller, refused to continue performing "sterilisation operations" because the Sisters of Mercy employed there were "not allowed to assist" with these operations, Mayor Alfons Winter quickly arranged for a sister from Gabersee to be made available as an assistant, whereupon Müller continued the operations. In July 1936, he reported to the city council that "around 250 sterilisations were carried out here," with only a few "sick people" "coming from outside, rather than from the sanatorium, to have the operations performed."
Patients were eventually relocated to one of the "hunger houses" set up in early 1943, where they received only reduced food. Due to the weakened physical condition caused by this malnutrition, the patients became more susceptible to infectious diseases including tuberculosis and pneumonia from which they ultimately died. 
Meanwhile the Attl nursing home provided a home for men in need of care or who were disabled for many years. Run by the Brothers of Mercy, under the Nazis the former Benedictine monastery too would see the mass sterilisation of mentally ill and mentally disabled people which would culminate in the systematic killing of patients. From 1937 brothers of the order were interrogated, harassed and even imprisoned by the Gestapo. At the end of September 1940, the institution was closed by order of the Ministry of the Interior during which time it held 230 patients. What happened to them is not fully known. 126 were initially transferred to the Eglfing-Haar sanatorium and nursing home from which 83 men were selected in October 1940 to be deported to the Hartheim killing centre and killed. One patient became a victim of the “Jewish collective transport” on September 20, 1940. Another seven people died in Eglfing-Haar, victims of so-called 'decentralised euthanasia' which consisted of simple starvation and neglect. The names of 105 such euthanasia victims from Attl victims are mentioned on the Wasserburg memorial. In January 1942, Attl was converted into a reserve hospital by the Wehrmacht and by the end of the war, around 200 wounded were housed here.
In front of the central memorial for the victims of the Nazis here at Heisererplatz in front of the war memorial. It was inaugurated on January, 27, 2020 which is supposed to be a day commemorating the victims of National Socialism. It consists of 62 steles of different heights loosely arranged around an oval space. The majority of the inner-facing steles of this memorial bear the names of the euthanasia victims, indicating the central place this tragedy now occupies in the town's commemoration efforts. Ongoing process of confronting the past: The town's efforts to research, commemorate, and publicly acknowledge these events indicate an ongoing process of Vergangenheitsbewältigung (coming to terms with the past) that continues to shape Wasserburg's culture and identity.
French PoWs clearing snow under guard and the site today.
Between 1939 and 1945, around 6,000 to 9,000 people were forced to work in the district of Wasserburg am Inn. With a total population of just under 40,000 in the district in 1939, which probably fell to just over 31,000 during the course of the war due to conscription into the Wehrmacht, it can be stated that around every fifth to sixth person living in the district of Wasserburg during the war wasn't a local, but a worker recruited or abducted from abroad, or a prisoner of war. The proportion of forced labourers among all workers was much higher; in some companies it could be over 40%, and in some cases over 50 percent. The public sector also used forced labour as for the building the swimming pool, during municipal maintenance or during flood cleaning work. Overall, their living and working conditions were generally harsh- publicly stigmatised by humiliating badges, socially excluded, restricted in their freedom of movement, subject to an overall dense security network, often housed in primitive camps, they were often not even provided according to the already poor dietary guidelines, so that hunger became the norm for many. Forced labourers were employed in all sectors of the economy. From the Meggle industrial dairy near Wasserburg, the textile factory Knagge and Peitz in  town, to medium-sized construction companies or craft businesses in the city or in village centres, to the smallest farms. The public sector also required the labour of those forced to work, for example in the construction of the swimming pool, in municipal road maintenance or in flood clean-up work in the city of Wasserburg. In each of the 62 municipalities in the old district there were significant numbers of forced labourers during the war. Of the forced labourers in Wasserburg, just over 36 percent were female. Whilst the proportion of women in the French group, which consisted mainly of male prisoners of war, was very low, women even made up a slight majority of the Soviet Eastern workers , at over 54 percent. The age structure of the forced labourers in Wasserburg is also shocking: over 8 percent were born after 1927 and were therefore between 11 and 17 years old during the war. Here, too, considerable national differences are noticeable, because whilestover 7 % of the Eastern workers and even 10.8% of the Poles were children and adolescents, this was only true for just over 2 % of the French.

The Gasthof Alte Post in 1936 with swastika-bedecked maypole. Siegsdorf  had been the home of Ernst von Salomon, a member of  the Organisation Consul who had received a five year prison sentence in 1922 for his part in the assassination of Foreign Minister Walther Rathenau – he provided a car for the assassins. In 1927, he received another prison sentence for an attempted Feme murder (paramilitary "self-justice"), and was pardoned by Reich President Paul von Hindenburg after a few months – he had not killed the severely wounded victim, Wagner, when he pleaded for his life, which was noted by the court. He was later interrogated after the war by the Americans.
The Americans believed they had a case against the writer Ernst von Salomon, and he tells us what it was like to be at the receiving end. They came for him at 6.00 a.m. at his home in Siegsdorf near Salzburg where he lived with his mistress, Ille Gotthelft. Two men called Murphy and Sullivan told him that he was to be interrogated across the border in Kitzbühel. They told Salomon it was because he was ‘a big Nazi’. When Ille protested that she was Jewish, they took her as well. Even if the two men had no knowledge of who Salomon was on their arrival, they could have gleaned it as they went through the books in his workroom. It was clear that they assumed that only a Nazi would have been involved in the killing of the Jewish foreign minister Walther Rathenau in 1922. His mistress’s protests must have been seen as at best irrelevant, at worst a lie. She suffered for her temerity, and was only released when she came close to death though sickness. ... He was questioned by a German-speaker who revealed that his parents were artists in Dresden, and Party members. He did not want to believe that Salomon had not been a member. He knew all about the Rathenau murder: ‘lucky for you you did not try to conceal it!’ ‘My dear sir, I’ve written books about it this thick.’
MacDonogh (400) After the Reich
The history of the site dates to roughly 988 when a manor house in Niedernfels is first mentioned. This roughly twenty metre high square building with the two octagonal towers now serves as the Franz von Sales School, a state-recognised private primary and secondary school in Niedernfels Castle west of Marquartstein in the Chiemgau. During the Nazi era it served as the so-called Gauführeschule of the Gaus Munich-Oberbayern. Gaufführer schools (also known as Gauschulungsburg ) served as Nazi training facilities and were subordinate to the irrespective Gauleitung. Their goal was to advance the "ideological and political orientation" of the participants. Training facilities of the affiliated associations were considered technical schools whose lessons would be be based on ideology and were therefore monitored by the Nazi Party training offices. As described in the Organisationsbuch der NSDAP (181), those admitted would be trained in the "the areas of domestic politics, foreign policy, race and inheritance theory, economic and social policy, history and geopolitics." Those enrolled  would be political leaders working in the party and the officials in the branches and affiliated associations which generally included the heads of the NS-Frauenschaft (NSF) and the Deutsche Frauenwerk (DFW);  the chairmen of the Deutsche Arbeitsfront (DAF) including the NS-Arbeitsgemeinschaft Kraft durch Joy (KdF); the leaders of the Volkswohlfahrt (NSV); the National Socialist German Medical Association and the National Socialist Law Keeper Association . The ideological training also involved all members of the National Socialist Teachers' Association and members of the National Socialist German Student Association and the National Socialist German Lecturers' Association.

Hitler visiting the town on August 13, 1934 to attend the 300th anniversary of the famous Passion play. Contemporary scholar James Shapiro writes that “Oberammergau is justly celebrated as one of the few places in the world where theatre still matters.” The Bavarian play began with a vow made in 1633: villagers would perform the Passion Play every ten years if God would spare them from the plague which had ravaged neighbouring towns and threatened to consume them. With few exceptions, they have kept this pledge, making Oberammergau, a town just southwest of Munich, an international phenomenon.  Oberammergau attracts a capacity crowd of over 400,000 visitors every ten years (with applications for tickets nearing 4 million). No expense is spared in its lavish production, but verisimilitude is important for Oberammergau: no makeup or wigs are allowed onstage; actors must have been born in Oberammergau or reside in the city for twenty years before they’re eligible to perform, grow their hair and, until 1990, female actors had to be under 35 and single.
In 1934 the play gained infamy for the dubious honour of hosting Hitler as he courted the popular vote for the institution of a new office, Führer and Reich Chancellor to replace the office of President vacated since the recent death of Hindenburg. Many of the actors in principal roles (excepting Judas) were already party Nazis, and voting records indicate that almost 90% of the town’s inhabitants favoured Hitler in the general election. The Ministry of Public Enlightenment and Propaganda ordered the official poster for the jubilee season amended to include the message "Deutschland ruft dich!", and the Strength Through Joy programme offered special cut-rate packages for the Passion Play, including train fare, tickets and accommodation. Official propaganda described the Passion Play as "peasant drama ... inspired by the consecrating power of the soil", and Hitler attended a performance. An attempt to rewrite the Passion Play script to bring it into line with Nazi ideology was rejected, however, by the more conservative element.
 In 1942 Hitler would go so far as to claim that the play showed Pilate as a man of “superior race” while the Sanhedrin’s call for crucifixion revealed the whole “muck and mire of Jewry.” In his Table Talk Hitler declared that
One of our most important tasks will be to save future generations from a similar political fate and to maintain for ever watchful in them a knowledge of the menace of Jewry. For this reason alone it is vital that the Passion Play be continued at Oberammergau; for never has the menace of Jewry been so convincingly portrayed as in this presentation of what happened in the times of the Romans. There one sees in Pontius Pilate a Roman racially and intellectually so superior, that he stands out like a firm, clean rock in the middle of the whole muck and mire of Jewry.
However, forced to choose between guns and God, Hitler closed the play in 1940 to build a munitions factory nearby, referred to below.
The theatre as it appeared in 1934 and today. Given such history, the play itself has been forced to adapt to the times, starting right after the war when it was condemned as anti-Semitic by several intellectuals such as Arthur Miller, Leonard Bernstein and Lionel Trilling in a petition because of the stereotypical and negative portrayal of Jews (sparking outrage amongst German writers such as Günter Grass and Heinrich Böll). In the late 1960s the Catholic Church requested the Passion Play reflect the Nostra Aetate of the Second Vatican Council which stated that the Jews were not responsible for the death of Jesus. However, when the Passion Play was not adapted in 1970, the Vatican withdrew its approval through , the so-called Missio canonica, leading to Oberammergau inviting Jewish organisations to participate in discussions about changes to the script. This would culminate in 1977 with
violent disputes in the municipality of Oberammergau before the 38th staging of the play in 1980 over which text to follow- that of Rosner or that of Weis/Daisenberger. The latter was criticised as anti-Semitic by such groups as B'nai B'rith because of the depiction of Judas but, after a referendum was held, this was the script chosen.
Today however, the staging is such that Jesus's Jewish identity is constantly emphasised- he is addressed as Rabbi Yeshua, speaks fragments of Hebrew as in the Last Supper where he recites the blessing over the wine in Hebrew and declares "Shema Israel!" Meanwhile the role of the moneylenders has been reduced, the Rabbi character completely eliminated and his lines given to another character, Jewish priests no longer wear horn-shaped hats and they are depicted as disputing about theological aspects of Judaism amongst themselves and not solely about Jesus. Peter, when questioned by Nathaniel regarding abandoning Judaism replies, "No! We don't want that! Far be it from us to abandon Moses and his law!" Particular emphasis is placed Judas as a tragedy leading to his desperate suicide; he's portrayed as being duped into betraying Jesus and the line "His blood is upon us and also upon our children's children" from Matthew xxvii.25 has been completely censored. In addition, the responsibility of Pilate is highlighted to make him appear brutal and tyrannical, threatening the Jewish high priest Caiaphas, making it clear that Caiaphas does not speak for all the Jews. Romans now stand guard at the gates when Jesus makes his entrance to Jerusalem as Jesus's own supporters have been added to the screaming crowd outside Pilate's palace. All of which strikes me as infinitely more historically accurate if calling into question the whole nature of the actual theology during the current era of Woke- is the protagonist Jesus Christ or Rabbi Yeshua?
The Hotel Wittelsbach then and now, shown sporting swastikas. In 1932 the future Bavarian Prime Minister Max Streibl was born here on January 6, 1932 as his parents owned a hotel business. Prime Minister Ramsey Macdonald stayed here in 1930, as did Harold Lloyd and the Canadian Olympic team of 1932.
Germania International sold the actual hotel guestbook created for the August 13, 1934 occasion of the Hitler's stay whilst attending the 300th anniversary of the "Passion Play of Oberammergau," describing it as "possibly the most important item we have ever offered" and offering a plethora of information and images on its page.
Hitler arriving in front of the hotel on the left and addressing a large crowd from the hotel’s balcony below; the hotel facade having changed somewhat since.
This would be the hotel of choice for top Nazis during the March 14-17, 1935 Führer Appell that had been held in the town. Of the over fifty signatures of high-ranking SA
ϟϟ officers who signed the hotel guest book were Victor Lutze, head of the SA after the Night of the Long Knives, Franz Ritter von Epp, Herbert Fust, SA Obergruppenführer Hans Ludin, Dietrich Von Jagow, Walter Dohle, SA Obergruppenführer Siegfried Kashe, SA Obergruppenführer Adolf Kob, Kurt Lasch, SA Gruppenführer Otto Schramme, Adolf Beckerle, SA Obergruppenführer (General) Otto Herzog, SA Obergruppenführer Heinrich Bennecke (Blood Order recipient and official historian of the Nazi Party) Heinz-Guenther Von Obernitz, SA Obergruppenführer Max Juettner, Wilhelm Helfer, Arthur Rakobrandt, Heinrich Boemker, among the many other notable names. Julius Streicher scribbled two typical anti-Semitic screeds on separate visits, writing in the guestbook on June 7 1933: “Without a solution to the Jewish question, there can be no salvation for the German People!” and in another visit on January 20, 1935: “Whoever knows the Jew knows the Devil." Among other top names of the Third Reich who stayed here include Martin Bormann and Fritz Todt, who had stayed together in 1935; Robert Ley, who signed the guestbook on September 13, 1934; Leni Riefenstahl in 1935; Reichsfrauenführerin Gertrud Scholtze-Klink, who visited February 24, 1940; Heinrich Hoffmann; Julius Schaub; Emil Maurice; Dr. Karl Brandt; Adolf Wagner; et al..
1. Boards with the inscription "Jews are not wanted here" or that show a similar note are not set up in the village, however, in the course of the summer at the entrance of the Alpenbad in the ticket office, the sentence is affixed with a 12 cm high writing: " Jews are not allowed in! "There are no privately owned facilities or houses, with the exception of the Osterbichl Kurhaus, which have a reference to the non-admission of Jews. At the entrance of the Kurhaus Osterbichl it says: "Jew-free house". The label has been in place since 1935.
2. It was found that the number of Jews visiting our place was not greater than in the previous year. The survey, which was carried out at the request of the district management of all hotel and guest house owners, showed that no house is willing to accept Jews. However, it has been found that private landlords accommodate Jewish guests. According to an estimate, 20-30 Jews were likely to have stayed here. The above-mentioned inscription in the Alpenbad could not be avoided. Although the bathing regulations prohibit Jews from entering the bathing facilities, it happened that Jews were noticed several times in an unpleasant manner and had to be expelled from the site either by guests or by the lifeguard. I have the impression that this is the only way to keep the place reasonably free of Jews.
3. Institutions without any references are likely to attract more Jews to the place itself very soon. Before embarrassing clashes between Aryan guests and Jews occur in public family baths, the strict ban on entry is still the best way out.

The flags have changed in front of the Forstamt with the war memorial gone. Early in the war when Britain alone was giving it back to the Germans in bombing raids, Munich, was hit in 1940 for the first time. Most of the industrial companies that were important for the war were located in the metropolitan area and were one of the preferred targets of the Royal Air Force. The Reich government therefore drew up plans at an early stage to relocate the war-important operations to safe areas if necessary and the area of ​​the municipality of Oberammergau was considered ideal for this for several reasons. Due to its geographical location in the Bavarian Alps, it was far from the big cities and difficult to reach for the opposing air force. On the other hand, tourism provided a large number of accommodations,which were necessary for the workers in the armaments factories. In addition, there was a large, recently built area in the Ammertal with the Wehrmacht barracks, which seemed suitable for relocating companies to Oberammergau. Already in the spring of 1942, seventy workers from the Viennese armaments industry were housed in Oberammergau for the first time. On Hitler's orders, at the end of September 1943, the long-prepared relocation of Messerschmidt AG and the evacuation of the accommodations in the village began. Because of the air raids on the plants near Regensburg, Augsburg and in Wiener Neustadt, the relocation had become inevitable. And so from October 1943, a large testing and production facility for fighter aircraft from Messerschmitt AG, the Upper Bavarian Research Institute, operated in the former Hötzendorf- Gebirgsjäger barracks. Forced labourers had to work under the supervision of the ϟϟ units of Hans Kammler, who was also the "Special Representative of the Reichsführer ϟϟ for the A4 programme", for the underground relocation of the German armaments industry and, as part of the Alpine fortress, an underground factory in the mountain under the cover name "Cerusit." The engineers worked on models for jet planes and rockets which, as hoped-for "miracle weapons", were to force a turning point in the war.
For this purpose, tunnels and caverns were carved out of the rock which can be seen in Geoff Walden's Third Reich in Ruins.
The consequences for the locals differed as many citizens living in Oberammergau obtained employment whilst on the other hand, the management of the armaments factory largely determined economic and political events in the area. The community primarily had to support the work of the armaments factories; as early as August 1942, the district administrator pointed out to the mayor of Oberammergau that the armaments factories had to have priority in supplying them. In the course of 1944 the Messerschmitt company had received permission from the Nazi district leader to confiscate living space without authorisation, and in July that year the Messerschmitt company confiscated Grund in Oberammergau for the construction of another barrack camp for Eastern European foreign workers and constructed the necessary buildings. The situation was similar with the necessary reason for a landing site in the Ammertal, which was to be set up in June 1944. 
The operation of the Upper Bavarian Research Institute was gradually expanded in 1944. Since tunnels were also driven into the Schaffelberg not far from the barracks for the production facilities, a large number of additional workers were required. At the beginning of 1944, around 300 Eastern workers and 200 other foreigners were deployed there, who were housed in the barracks camp built especially for them on Rainenbichl, east of Oberammergau. Such foreign labourers represented a problem for the Nazi district leadership; in a letter from the Nazi district leadership to Messerschmitt-Werke dated February 2, 1944,  
On the basis of messages that I have received, I would like to inform you that accommodating foreign workers - especially Russians - in private quarters is of course out of the question suggest that you try to find this barrack.A manhunt is currently being carried out: the town and country guards deployed in the course of this operation, who also keep watch at the entrances to Oberammergau, have found that a lot of Russians were hanging around the streets between 10 p.m. and 4 a.m. I will order the district commissioner for the deployment of foreign workers to discuss ways and means with you to end this nonsense of wandering around by Russian workers by night and fog.  
At this point in time, there was no danger to the population although the local gendarmerie was strengthened and units of the Wehrmacht in Oberammergau were charged with the task of securing the population. The residents of Oberammergau were als Garmisch. During the war, the two road tunnels of "Olympiastraße" (today's Bundesstraße 2) southwest of the village were walled-up to become bombproof at the ends as part of the U-Verlagerung (underground relocation), part of a large number of o largely sealed off from foreign workers. The closer the end of the war approached, the more difficult the supply situation for the Messerschmitt branch also became. From March 1945 it was no longer possible to speak of regular production and in the last months of the war, the management of the Upper Bavarian Research Institute changed, which was now taken over by the ϟϟ itself. ϟϟ-Obergruppenführer Kammler was given the management of the plant in Oberammergau where he quartered himself whilst his staff was transferred to Tyrol shortly before the American invasion.
In mid-April 1945 the ϟϟ evacuated around 450 employees of the A4 program of the Peenemünde Army Research Centre from Bad Sachsa and placed them under strict guard in Oberammergau, including Walter Dornberger and Wernher von Braun. 
On the morning of April 29, 1945, Oberammergau was occupied by the Americans after a brief period of fierce resistance from the mountain troops. 
About a dozen miles from Oberammergau at Eschenlohe is this tunnel which housed a secret wartime aircraft manufacturing facility, shown after the war in 1945 and today. The inset looks towards the Vestbühl through which the tunnel was built, showing the bunker-like structure above. The tunnel was built as its name suggests in time for the 1936 Winter Games inGerman armaments production plants that were relocated underground during the war. In this capacity is served as a secret production facility with the cover name "Ente" for the Flugzeugwerke Messerschmitt AG. The system was managed by the Upper Bavarian Research Institute in Oberammergau and was constructed similarly to the U-relocation in the Engelberg tunnel. It was constructed through the forced labour of concentration camp prisoners from satellite camps of Dachau who were housed in Seehausen at Murnau and Oberammergau. More information and photos at Geoff Walden's site.

Tegernsee with Rottach in the background. Tegernsee is where Hitler would often retreat, and it was not until April 2016 that the town of Tegernsee stripped Hitler of honorary citizenship after 83 years. Hitler’s honour was revoked by Conservative mayor Johannes Hagn and the sixteen town councillors after the former stated that "[i]t took so long because we didn’t actually know if he was still on the books as an honorary citizen and it turned out he was... We thought the honour had died off with him but that turned out not to be the case so we had to officially expunge him from the books." During the war the stretch of water became known as ‘Bonzo See’ – Lake Big Shot – because of the number of Nazi chiefs who bought holiday homes there.  

One such person was Heinrich Himmler- his home in Gmund am Tegernsee from 1934-1945- "Lindenfycht". At the end of the war the hotels in Tegernsee were used as auxiliary hospitals. Around 12,000 wounded and civilian war refugees were accommodated in Tegernsee alone. During their retreat, troops of the 17th ϟϟ Panzergrenadier Division "Götz von Berlichingen" were persuaded by the convalescent Major Hannibal von Lüttichau not to settle in the place, but to take off via Kreuth in the direction of Austria. He then went with a white flag to the approaching artillerymen of the American Army and could convince them of the withdrawal of the Waffen-ϟϟ, so that the place and the inhabitants and refugees were not shot at.
At the German war cemetery in Gmund for the hundredth anniversary of the armistice for the Great War- November 11, 2018. The Kaltenbrunn military cemetery is the oldest military cemetery from the Second World War in Bavaria and was inaugurated on October 8, 1950 by the German War Graves Commission. There are 368 graves buried in the 980 square metre complex, including three women. Some had died in hospitals and were buried here from thirteen communities. When Auxiliary Bishop Scharnagel and Senior Church Councilor Bessl inaugurated the 980 square meter facility on October 8, 1950, there was still a clear view of the lake; later the park residential complex was built here. 
At the memorial service, the Gmund pastors of both denominations blessed the graves, followed by a reading and the diplomats laying wreaths. The memorial service was held in German and English. Also taking part are the mountain rifle companies from Gmund and Tegernsee with marching bands and saluting processions as well as military delegations from the Bundeswehr and other armed forces. We then walked the three miles to the Commonwealth War Graves Cemetery at Durnbach where the British Consulate held another memorial event in the Dürnbach military cemetery with the two minutes' silence at 11.00.
Im standing on the right in front of the graves of RAF and RCAF airmen Brown, Carter, Dalton, Schulman, Sutherland and Trimby during the 2023 Remembrance Day ceremony and their memorial in April, 1947. The cemetery commands a beautiful view across Tegernesse to snow-capped mountains, the Wallberg and the Kampen in the foreground and the loftier heights of the Tyrol beyond. This lovely site was chosen, shortly after hostilities had ceased, by officers of the British Army and Royal Air Force, in conjunction with officers of the American Occupation Forces in whose zone Diirnbach lay. The great majority of those buried here are airmen shot down over southern Germany (Bavaria, Wiirtemberg, Hessen and Thuringia) and Austria. They were brought from their scattered graves by the Army Graves Services and re-buried at Diirnbach. The remainder are of men who were killed whilst escaping from prisoner of war camps in the same areas, or who died towards the end of the war on forced marches from the camps to other areas within Germany. Diernbach War Cemetery contains 2,934 Commonwealth burials of the Second World War, 93 are unidentified. One grave holds the ashes of an unknown number of unidentified war casualties (including Special Operations Executive Agents) recovered from Flossenbiirg Concentration Camp. In addition, special memorials commemorate four soldiers of the Army of the United Kingdom, and one who belonged to South African Forces, who were buried at Regensburg Upper Roman Catholic Cemetery but whose graves are now lost. The memorials are inscribed to this effect, and bear the quotation Their Glory shall not be blotted out.
More recently, on the 14th May 2003 the funeral of Wing Commander Warburton, a photo reconnaissance pilot, took place at Diirnbach. He was buried with full military honors 59 years after his death in 1944. The last funerals to take place in the cemetery were on 21 October 2015 for two Lancaster crews ~ JB221 and ED427. The crew of JB221 were from 97 Sqn, RAF Bourne, and on a bombing mission over Frankfurt. Only three of the crew were found at the time and laid to rest at Diirnbach, with Flight Engineer Pilot Officer George Smith as the fourth, on the above date, ED427, of 47 Sqn from RAF Fiskerton, was excavated in September 2012. south west of Frankfurt, and the crew of seven remains were buried at Durnbach.  
My website Echoes of War is devoted to such cemeteries and sites around Ypres and the Somme.
 Bad Wiessee
It was on Tegernsee here where the Hotel Hanselbauer, shown here as the Hotel Lederer am See when it was being demolished at the end of 2018, saw Hitler personally arrest the leader of the SA, Ernst Roehm. From Alan Bullock's Hitler: A Study in Tyranny (303):
In the early morning of the 30th a fast-moving column of cars tore down the road from Munich to Wiessee where Rohm and Heines were still asleep in their beds at the Hanselbauer Hotel. The accounts of what happened at Wiessee are contradictory. Heines, the S.A. Obergrappenfuhrer for Silesia, a convicted murderer who was found sleeping with one of Rohm's young men, is said to have been dragged out and shot on the road. Other accounts say he was taken to Munich with Rohm and shot there.
Eva Braun exercising at Schliersee with Saint Sixtus Church in the background. This shot comes from reel 1 of the private motion pictures of Eva Braun which were assembled into eight reels by the American Army from the original 28 camera rolls, and has the hand-written title "Wir baden in Schliersee." The reel also includes other locations such as Am Chiemsee, Wolfgangsee, Aschauer Weiher, Wörthsee and Punktchen am Berg. Hans Frank, the notorious “Butcher of Poland" later executed after the war for war crimes, owned the Schoberhof on Lake Schliersee. Scandalously, in 1959 Fritz Rüth, the president of the Munich regional tax office, spent a mere 7,000 deutschmarks acquiring the entire property. Such corruption was standard practice after the war, despite the fact that under the 1948 Bavarian law governing confiscation of property, the proceeds from such sales were to be paid to the Foundation for the Redress of Nazi Injustices and, following its dissolution, to the State Office of Restitution. Nevertheless, the Audit Court didn't submit its critical and classified report until 1971, only for a note to be placed into the Finance Ministry files stating that the public prosecutor’s office was terminating its investigations because the statute of limitations had passed.
Outside of one of the buildings near the Feldberg Ski Resort the Nazi eagle remains, as does the Bismarckdenkmal nearby. Baranowski's seminal research on Nazi leisure activities presents skiing as an integral part of the 'Strength Through Joy' programme. He argued that this sport was not merely a form of recreation but a tool for embodying and disseminating core principles of Nazi ideology. Baranowski points to how the Nazis emphasised the sport's virility and endurance aspects, traits they associated with the Aryan ideal. Skiing, a physically demanding activity set in Germany's rugged winter landscapes, was seen as a perfect setting for displaying these traits. Moreover, the competitive nature of the sport was conducive to promoting racial superiority, a cornerstone of Nazi philosophy. However, it must be noted that Baranowski's focus on the ideological aspect of skiing might have led him to overemphasise its importance within the larger Nazi scheme of things. 
Contrary to Baranowski's ideologically laden perspective, Large offers a more pragmatic analysis. He posits that the importance of skiing to the Nazi regime lay in its potential for mass mobilisation and social integration. Large's research illustrates how skiing was popularised under the banner of the 'Strength Through Joy' programme. This initiative was essentially an exercise in mass mobilisation, an attempt to create a united 'Volksgemeinschaft' or people's community. By organising mass ski trips and competitions, the Nazis could integrate various social classes and foster a sense of collective identity. Large also notes that the affordability of these ski excursions allowed working-class Germans access to a traditionally upper-class pastime. This social levelling not only bolstered the Nazis' populist appeal but also smoothed over class tensions, contributing to the regime's stability. Yet, Large's emphasis on the mass mobilisation facet might undervalue the ideological implications of skiing that Baranowski emphasised.
The Naturfreundehaus when it hosted troops of Hitlerjugend and Feldsee then and now. These Naturfreunde centres played a multifaceted role in Nazi Germany, used as tools of the Nazi regime, manipulated to propagate its ideology and mould public opinion. Steven B. Bowman argues that such transformations of the original role of these centres were primarily driven by the regime's intentions to manipulate public opinion and control societal institutions. Naturfreunde centres, which had traditionally been known for their politically left-leaning views and commitment to social and environmental justice, were targeted for 'cleansing'. According to Bowman, this was part of the wider Nazi policy of Gleichschaltung or 'coordination', which aimed at bringing all aspects of German life under the control of the Nazi Party. Marcus Funck in his book Naturfreunde in the Nazi Era posits that the Naturfreunde centres, due to their historical commitment to social and political reform, harboured dissenters and acted as discreet nodes of the resistance movement.
Due to their historically egalitarian and left-leaning ethos, there were likely to be fertile ground for the resistance movement. Regardless of the levels of resistance, the Nazi regime's suppression of the Naturfreunde centres was ultimately successful. According to Bowman, the regime's strategy of suppression was two-pronged: infiltration and violent repression. Agents from the Gestapo infiltrated the centres, reporting any signs of resistance, while overt signs of dissent were brutally crushed. Many Naturfreunde members were arrested, and the centres were either repurposed or closed.At the same time, they also served as discreet hubs of resistance against the regime. Ultimately, however, these centres were not immune to the regime's oppressive reach and were largely suppressed. The intertwined roles of these centres as both tools and victims of the Nazi regime shed light on the complex relationship between societal institutions and totalitarian regimes.


Raising the May Pole then and now on the corner of Kirchstraße and Zugspitzstraße in this district of Berg
The Eisenbahnbrücke Prien-Aschau under construction in 1939 and today. 
Just south of Munich is this memorial to the assassination of German physicist and research manager Karl Heinz Beckurts who, along with his driver Eckhard Groppler, was murdered by a roadside bomb here at 7.32 on July 9, 1986 in the village of Straßlach. The bomb used an electronic triggering device. The Red Army Faction claimed responsibility under the name "Kommando Mara Cagol" but the identity of the perpetrators is still unknown. The Bundeskriminalamt named Horst Ludwig Meyer as the only suspect for the bombing; Meyer was fatally shot in 1999 by the police in Vienna. It's unclear why he was targeted; in April that year  the Chernobyl disaster occurred, the worst to date and most consequential accident in the history of nuclear power. Since it also occurred in the middle of a heated political debate over nuclear power in West Germany, it has been speculated that the RAF wanted to win sympathy from the West German anti-nuclear movement against nuclear use.