• Germany's news in English
 

Hotel offends with prison theme parties where Nazis held workers

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

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)

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
Alps Plane Crash
Germanwings co-pilot 'hid illness' on crash day
Photo: DPA

Germanwings co-pilot 'hid illness' on crash day

State prosecutors in Düsseldorf said on Friday that Germanwings flight 4U9525 co-pilot Andreas Lubitz had a sick note from his doctor on the day of the crash. READ  

Varoufakis 'considering resignation': Bild
Yanis Varoufakis. Photo: DPA

Varoufakis 'considering resignation': Bild

German tabloid Bild reports that Germany's least-favourite Greek minister Yanis Varoufakis is considering resigning from his post just two months after taking it up. READ  

Germany urgently needs immigrants: study
Spanish immigrants in Germany. Photo: DPA

Germany urgently needs immigrants: study

A study by the Bertelsmann Institute found on Friday that Germany will need around half a million new immigrants every year until 2050 to maintain its work force. READ  

Bundesbank tough, public soft on Greece
Jens Weidmann, head of the Bundesbank. Photo: DPA

Bundesbank tough, public soft on Greece

Bundesbank chief Jens Weidmann said on Friday that he is opposed to giving Greece further financial help because he believes the new government has frittered away too much trust, but a new poll showed that support for a "Grexit" had shrunk below 50 percent. READ  

Town flocks to mourn lost schoolchildren
A black ribbon on a sign in Haltern, North Rhine-Westphalia. Photo: DPA

Town flocks to mourn lost schoolchildren

President Joachim Gauck arrived in Haltern on Friday to join families and schoolchildren mourning the loss of their classmates and teachers in the Germanwings flight 4U9525 crash. READ  

Alps Plane Crash
Airlines agree two-person cockpit rule
Photo: DPA

Airlines agree two-person cockpit rule

The Federation of the German Air Travel Industry (BDL) decided on Thursday that from now on two people must be in the cockpit at all times, in a bid to avoid a repeat of the Germanwings disaster. READ  

Interior ministry bans Salafist group
Thomas de Maizière. Photo: DPA

Interior ministry bans Salafist group

Interior Minister Thomas de Maizière ordered the dissolving of salafist organisation Tauhid Germany on Thursday, saying that the group radicalized youth and encouraged them to travel to Syria to fight for Isis. READ  

New minute of silence for Germanwings victims
MPs in the Bundestag (German parliament) fall silent for a minute before beginning the day's work. Photo: DPA

New minute of silence for Germanwings victims

Germans again took a few moments on Thursday to remember those killed in the Germanwings flight 4U9525 plane crash on Tuesday. READ  

Ukraine refugees make tracks to Germany
Ukrainian refugees arriving in Poland by plane. Photo: DPA

Ukraine refugees make tracks to Germany

Germany received one of the highest numbers of Ukrainian asylum seekers in Europe last year, according to data released last week by Eurostat and analyzed by The Local. READ  

Merkel must be firm with Modi: Amnesty
Narendra Modi. Photo: DPA

Merkel must be firm with Modi: Amnesty

Speaking to the The Local ahead of Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi's visit to Germany next month, Amnesty International warned that his poor record on human rights must factor into the talks. READ  

RECEIVE OUR NEWSLETTER AND ALERTS
Can the 'nightmare' of a pilot downing a plane be prevented?
National
LIVE: Co-pilot suspected of crashing plane
National
LIVE: Co-pilot suspected of crashing plane
National
LIVE: Co-pilot suspected of crashing plane
Pupils mourn lost classmates
National
Freed after 25 years on death row
National
Cologne Cathedral returns from space
National
Germanwings co-pilot was 'locked out of cockpit' before crash
Sponsored Article
What expat parents should ask before choosing a school
Features
Paddy's Day, Berlin style
Is your workload 'out of control'? You're not alone...
National
Why east Germans are happy to get it on on camera
National
What would you do with a 250-year-old pretzel?
Features
Just why is the German flag Schwarz, Rot, Gold?
Business & Money
Getting German workers and bosses thinking positive
National
Uplifting thoughts to get you through the last week of winter
National
Who wants the Olympics more - Hamburg or Berlin?
National
Last-minute drama of Germany's Eurovision 2015 entry
National
German photographer takes world's top prize
Features
Meet the woman getting Germans to drink more – and better – beer
Gallery
Get inspired for International Women's Day with German heroes
Sponsored Article
Expert US tax preparation for Americans in Germany
Green party proposes first-ever cannabis legalization plan
Gallery
In pictures: Germany's seven most livable cities
National
Singapore canes Germans for train graffiti
Politics
Surprise! Germans love feeling like they run the EU
Politics
Anger over plan to show women what men earn
Travel
Munich tram fans bicker over new bell
Features
Kafka: puzzling translators 100 years on
Business & Money
France or Germany: Which country really is the best country to work in?
Photo: Police
Rhineland
Student driver crashes tank into family garden.
Photo: DPA
Politics
There was a notable absence at the Anti-Semitism Commission
National
How Dresden bombing still divides Germany, 70 years on
Photo: DPA
Gallery
Take a cute break with this gallery of baby animals
International
What's keeping UK expats from voting?
Photo: DPA
National
Terror alert at a new high. Should you be worried?
Gallery
The best regional foods TTIP opponents want to protect
Photo: DPA
Features
All you ever needed to know about Pegida
Photo: Shutterstock
Culture
This cosplayer did not think his plan through
National
Europe in statistics - from Spain to Sweden
Gallery
Top 12 German idioms
Culture
10 top tips for partying in Germany
Photo: DPA
Technology
What does the Chancellor see as the future of the internet?
Photo: DPA
Business & Money
JobTalk: All you need to know about working in Germany
National
Share news tips with The Local Germany
Latest news from The Local in Austria

More news from Austria at thelocal.at

Latest news from The Local in Switzerland

More news from Switzerland at thelocal.ch

Latest news from The Local in Denmark

More news from Denmark at thelocal.dk

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

7,137
jobs available
Toytown Germany
Germany's English-speaking crowd