• Germany edition
 
Hotel offends with prison theme parties where Nazis held workers
Photo: DPA

Hotel offends with prison theme parties where Nazis held workers

Published: 25 May 2011 11:22 GMT+02:00
Updated: 25 May 2011 11:22 GMT+02:00

A hotel in Hameln has provoked the ire of a historian and embarrassed city politicians by hosting jail-themed parties in cellars where the Nazis once imprisoned forced labourers.

At least 474 people died in the buildings under the Nazis due to horrendous conditions, or were shot when trying to escape, as far as local historian Bernhard Gelderblom has been able to establish, he told Der Spiegel magazine.

Gelderblom said he considered the parties grotesque, and said he had often tried to raise the matter in the city. He said he was in contact with relatives of people who were held as prisoners in the building who he said were, “outraged and find it tasteless.”

The four-star Hotel Stadt Hameln, in the centre of the northern German city of Hameln – known as Hamelin in English – has a detailed account on its website of its history. A jail was built on the site in the 1820s by Georg Domeier – the city’s mayor and commissar for George IV King of Hannover and England.

Despite describing its expansion to include a factory and exercise yard, there is no mention of the first half of the 20th century or the Nazi use of the building to imprison forced labourers.

The website’s account jumps from the end of the 19th century to 1978, when the last prisoner left, in one swift move, skipping the Third Reich completely.

Rather, it offers a link to information on what it calls Prussian prison parties. There, those who have paid €44 for the privilege are ordered about by members of staff wearing prison officer uniforms.

They are given striped T-shirts to wear under the pretence of ensuring that no vermin are brought in, and even given a drink, described as a ‘oral vaccine’ before they enter the main room, which has bars at the entrance.

Managers or bosses from a group of guests can be nominated to be locked up in special cells, which the website promises is much to the amusement of their colleagues. There is even a photograph of one guest being held in stocks in the middle of the room.

Maurice Born, a retired French professor who has been researching Hameln’s history since the 1960s, said he had been outraged when he saw the advert for the hotel’s prison parties last September.

“I simply could not believe it,” he told Der Spiegel. “I thought it was a joke.”

He wrote a long letter to the hotel, the Mayor Susanne Lippmann and local political parties, outlining the building’s history and calling the prison parties ‘grotesque masquerades.’ He also pointed out what he called the ‘highly one-sided’ historical description on the hotel’s website.

His letter, send in October, did not receive an answer from any of the addressees, he said.

Hameln’s city spokesman Thomas Wahmes told the magazine that the mayor had asked him to answer Born’s letter but that he had not yet got around to it.

“We can very well understand Mr Born and his feelings,” he told Der Spiegel. The hotel was free to do what it wanted, but, “when one knows what happened there, it is obviously tasteless,” he said.

He said Lippmann was of the same opinion.

“We receive such letters from time to time,” hotel manager Gabriele Güse told the magazine.

“This hotel on this spot was the political will of the city of Hameln,” she said.

“We don’t think that we are doing anything to damage or injure anyone with our hotel.”

When asked why the hotel’s homepage did not include even a mention of the Nazis’ use of the building, she said, “I don’t wish to comment.”

In a written statement she told Der Spiegel the parties were, “not at any time even slightly connected with the history of the building quoted by Mr Born.”

She compared the parties with other mediaeval knights’ dinners on offer in other historical buildings.

The Local/hc

The Local (news@thelocal.de)

Don't miss...X
Left Right

Your comments about this article

15:16 May 25, 2011 by LarsBar
Comment removed by The Local for breach of our terms.
16:42 May 25, 2011 by sebastian2010
to Larsbar:

oblivious..... i think not. I would say they want to move past the dark time already. how much do you think about all the indains killed by your country tring to wipe them out???
17:04 May 25, 2011 by LarsBar
Comment removed by The Local for breach of our terms.
18:34 May 25, 2011 by Jack Kerouac
Um, they can do what they want - it's their hotel. Obviously they aren't having Nazi nostaligia since they won't even list the history of that era on their website, and are trying to avoid talking about it. And another thing - if Germans weren't allowed to do anything inside of buildings that were once used by Nazis, whole cities would have to be evacuated. They are just joking around, anyway.
18:36 May 25, 2011 by LarsBar
Comment removed by The Local for breach of our terms.
18:56 May 25, 2011 by donniaahumanoid
I disagree with LarsBar. Germans aren't being oblivious, they're trying to move on from the past. But of course they don't forget it; they know what their country did was wrong. There's a time to move on, but always remember not to make the same mistakes.

The same can't be same for Americans (and I am American). We oh so love to sugarcoat everything we do as the right thing when we're clearly wrong.

As for the article...it is their hotel. And like Jack stated, there can't possibly be any nostaligia because their website won't even list the history during WW2.
23:15 May 25, 2011 by iseedaftpeople
I would say this was probably just a somewhat innocent (or maybe even ignorant, yes) idea for a party theme, I doubt this had anything remotely to do with (neo-)Nazi reminiscience for the hotel owners who came up with it. But sometimes you don't realize how offensive an idea like this is to some other people, and that you can really get yourself in hot water.

This also has little to do with if and how Germans in general try to move past their history. The Nazis were THE darkest chapter in all of German history, yes, but every good sensible German knows that, and knows that that carries with it certain responsibilities of never letting it happen again and fighting and opposing neo-Nazism. To construe a general lack of historical sensitivity from this one incident where somebody didn't wholly think things true would certainly be quite a stretch.
01:57 May 26, 2011 by LarsBar
Comment removed by The Local for breach of our terms.
07:07 May 26, 2011 by harcourt
As an Englishman I am amazed that this sort of thing is even discussed as to whether it is right or wrong. I know that in the USA the " N " word is an absolute taboo and I guess if somebody hit on the idea to theme some event on "slavery times" it would be shouted out of court by the general public. But as I see by comments in The Local this is not so in Germany which tells you something I suppose.
10:32 May 26, 2011 by Angry Ami
Well you could take both sides of the argument, should people play jail in a former Nazi jail, but then should people constantly be bet over the head about the past, which you can't change anyway, good question, no easy answer.
Today's headlines
Ex-minister jailed over F1 race track scandal
Ingolf Deubel in court on Wednesday. Photo: DPA

Ex-minister jailed over F1 race track scandal

A former state finance minister was sentenced to three-and-a-half years in prison on Wednesday, having been found guilty of embezzling money in the scandal around the failed sale of the Nürburgring Formula One race track. READ () »

Upper Bavaria boasts lowest EU unemployment
A Bavarian worker works hard Photo: DPA

Upper Bavaria boasts lowest EU unemployment

Southern and central Bavaria have the lowest unemployment in the EU, according to figures released on Tuesday, with one business leader boasting the area has “de facto full employment”. READ () »

Thousands of tax evaders come forward to declare
Uli Hoeneß was jailed last month for tax evasion. Photo: DPA

Thousands of tax evaders come forward to declare

The number of German tax evaders who have self-declared to avoid prosecution trebled in the first quarter of 2014, figures published on Wednesday showed, with the rise put down to the "Uli Hoeneß effect". READ () »

Petition fails to remove WWII Russian tanks
One of the WWII Russian tanks near the Brandenburg Gate. Photo: DPA

Petition fails to remove WWII Russian tanks

The German government rejected on Wednesday a call by two newspapers to remove Russian tanks from a World War II memorial in central Berlin in protest against spiralling tensions in Ukraine. READ () »

Germany warns Ukraine talks must not fail
A Ukrainian policeman at a checkpoint in the eastern city of Kharkiv on Tuesday. Photo: DPA

Germany warns Ukraine talks must not fail

Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier said on Wednesday that scheduled four-way talks on the Ukraine crisis must not fail, warning of "the threat of more dead and injured". READ () »

Olympic stadium could be giant polling station
Berlin's Olympic Stadium. Photo: DPA

Olympic stadium could be giant polling station

Berlin's Olympic stadium could become the world's biggest polling station if the Turkish community gets the go-ahead to vote there in Turkey’s general elections. READ () »

The Local List
Nine ways to celebrate Easter like a German
Photo: DPA

Nine ways to celebrate Easter like a German

From rolling wheels filled with burning hay down a hill, to waiting for a fox to bring eggs, The Local List this week looks at the nine best German Easter traditions. READ () »

Biology pupils find horse in kebab meat test
Horse? Photo: DPA

Biology pupils find horse in kebab meat test

Schoolchildren in western Germany came across horse meat while testing doner kebabs in a biology experiment. It comes a year after the horse meat scandal which showed much meat on sale in Europe had been mislabelled. READ () »

Private health insurance not worth it for workers
Photo: DPA

Private health insurance not worth it for workers

Thousands of employees paying into private health insurance in Germany get poor value for money, according to consumer experts - who recommend going private for just one group of workers. READ () »

'Free range' chicken farmer tricks customers
Free range? Photo: DPA

'Free range' chicken farmer tricks customers

UPDATE: A major producer of ethically certifified meat has admitted to defrauding thousands of customers for years by passing off conventional chicken as free range. But the brand said it took swift action to deal with the case. READ () »

RECEIVE OUR NEWSLETTER AND ALERTS
Photo: Galerie Bilderwelt
Gallery
World War I in colour photos
Photo: DPA
Society
'The mafia has infiltrated every sector in Germany'
Photo: DPA
Society
JobTalk: Why you should teach English in Germany
Photo: DPA
National
330,000 sign up against TV licence fee
Photo: DPA
Hamburg
School kids hospitalized after 'porno' party
Photo: Submitted
Frankfurt
'I'll get even with my old pal Schwarzenegger'
Photo: DPA
Gallery
The week in pictures: April 5th - April 11th
Photo: DPA
Gallery
Ten great inventions you (probably) didn't know were German
Photo: J. Arthur White
Berlin
Clashes in Berlin as refugees tear down their own camp
Photo: DPA
Gallery
Munich's baby polar bears are finally named
Photo: DPA
Gallery
The 10 best German employers to work for
CurrencyFair
Sponsored Article
Why it pays to avoid banks when making overseas transfers
Advertisement:
Mr. Lodge
Sponsored Article
How to find a furnished rental in Munich
Sponsored Article
How to make a lasting impression in business
Hult International Business School
Sponsored Article
What they don't teach you at Business School
Photo: DPA
Society
Nine jobs you can only do in Germany
Photo:ESL
Sponsored Article
How to integrate successfully in Germany
Photo: DPA
Business & Money
JobTalk: All you need to know about working in Germany
Photo: DPA
Features
The Local List Archive - Your guide to all things German
National
Share news tips with The Local Germany
Latest news from The Local in Switzerland

More news from Switzerland at thelocal.ch

Latest news from The Local in Spain

More news from Spain at thelocal.es

Latest news from The Local in France

More news from France at thelocal.fr

Latest news from The Local in Italy

More news from Italy at thelocal.it

Latest news from The Local in Norway

More news from Norway at thelocal.no

Latest news from The Local in Sweden

More news from Sweden at thelocal.se

3,115
jobs available
Toytown Germany
Germany's English-speaking crowd