• Germany's news in English
 
app_header_v3

Berlin struggles to sell former Goebbels villa

The Local · 28 Aug 2014, 12:20

Published: 28 Aug 2014 12:20 GMT+02:00

The address of the former villa of Hitler's propaganda minister is as misleading as it is revealing.

Number One, Friendship Place, northeast of Berlin, is thought to have been where Joseph Goebbels produced some of his most virulent speeches against Jews. But it's also where Goebbels wooed the starlets of the Berlin's Babelsberg film studios.

Known as Bogensee for the property's small lake, it was built as a getaway for Goebbels northeast of the German capital, far from the retreat southwest of the city on an island in the Wannsee where he would stay with his wife and six children.

After World War II the site, near the town of Wandlitz, became home to a high school for the socialist Free German Youth (FDJ) where a young Erich Honecker studied.

The FDJ was the youth wing of the German socialist party, SED, that controlled East Germany and would eventually be led by Honecker.

But for the last 15 years the massive property has been abandoned.

Sprawled across nearly 17 hectares of mainly forested land, the original complex boasts 70 rooms in the main building called Haus am Bogensee, guest houses and a farmhouse by the lake. Later, the estate's Soviet-era school buildings added large halls, lecture theatres and residences.

The grounds are overgrown and the greying buildings show signs of neglect, though a minimum of maintenance has been done, costing the city €150,000 a year.

The Berlin Property Fund, the agency in charge of the property, tried to sell it in 2006 and 2008, but shut down bidding process on both occasions due to lack of demand.

Marlies Masche, spokesperson for the fund, says this time they have several interested parties. But to avoid interfering with the competitive process, she says, Masche did not reveal how many bidders are involved, nor the asking price.

Berlin-based real estate appraiser Günter Lehmann says the property is highly valuable, but difficult to assess without a full, on-site evaluation. He valued the land alone at roughly €15 million euros.

Until the fall of the Berlin Wall, the complex had been in continual use by the FDJ, and became home to an international social work organization after November 1989, but it left the property a decade later.

Back in the time of the Third Reich, Goebbels was known to seduce women and bring them to the estate to fulfill his sexual appetites.

His conquering manner toward women is thought to have been one way the Nazi compensated for the inadequacy he felt as an Aryan specimen, according to British historian Sir Richard Evans.

Goebbels stood a mere 5 ft. 5 in. with brown hair and brown eyes, slowed down by a club foot he was left with after an operation failed to cure a childhood infection.

One notable escapade played out on the grounds of Bogensee brought Goebbels into conflict with Adolf Hitler himself.

Goebbels' affair with the Czech film star Lida Baavora became public and prompted his wife, Magda, to consider divorce. When Hitler found out about Goebbels' lewd behaviour, he ordered an end to the affair.

The Goebbels connection may have made the property difficult to sell over the years. The infamous propaganda minister's name is noticeably absent from the document intended to pitch the estate to potential buyers.

Berlin also wants to make sure the property doesn't end up in the wrong hands, particularly those of neo-Nazis who could turn it into a gathering point for the extremists or a shrine to the former propaganda minister.

That means background checks for anyone who submits a bid for the property.

The city also intends to make sure the idyllic woodland surroundings are protected and that they approve of any plans for the property. Suggested uses include: hotel, medical clinic, boarding school and retirement home.

Story continues below…

The building interiors are in good condition and taken alone could be an attractive investment, but for the Berlin Property Fund, the overall site's dark history may prove too much to overcome.

"We want a total use of the site," says Masche. "The Goebbels villa is very difficult to separate from the rest."

"There is no deadline for a decision on the bidding process," admits Masche.

Stuck in the shadow of Goebbels' lurid villa, Berlin may have to continue bearing the costs of its history.

Tomas Urbina is currently an Arthur F. Burns Fellow with The Local Germany.

For more news from Germany, join us on Facebook and Twitter.

The Local (news@thelocal.de)

Your comments about this article

Today's headlines
No injuries after blast near Bavarian migrant centre
A sign at the Zirndorf migrant centre. Photo: DPA

A suitcase, likely packed with aerosol cans, has blown up near a migrant centre on the outskirts of Nuremberg, causing no injuries, police confirm.

Not your average student digs: 'amazing' plastic bubble
Photo: DPA

Could this wacky experiment be the future of student housing?

Police settle train violence over smelly feet
Not the feet in question. Photo: Caitlin Regan/Flickr

A fellow passenger's foot odour proved too much for one traveller to stomach.

How Berliners are responding to the Bavaria attacks
Photo: DPA

Is fear of terrorism creeping up on the capital?

Munich gunman was far-right racist: media reports
Photo: DPA

According to research by the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung the Munich gunman was proud to have been born on the same day as Hitler and hated Turks and Arabs.

Ansbach suicide attack
Ansbach bomber ‘influenced’ by third person: officials
Photo: DPA

Officials in Bavaria have said that the man who blew himself up in an apparent Islamist attack on Sunday was influenced by an as yet unknown person.

What is the link between the attacks in Germany last week?
Police on guard in Munich. Photo: DPA

And how likely are 'copycat' attacks?

Rights experts call for calm after string of violent attacks
Bavaria has called for soldiers to protect the German border. Photo: DPA

Human rights groups and legal experts are warning the government to react responsibly to the attacks and rampages which have taken place in Germany in recent days.

France church attacker had been arrested in Germany
Photo: DPA

A neighbour described the man as a "ticking time bomb".

Dutch join hunt for German terrorists-turned-outlaws
From left to right: Ernst-Volker Staub, Daniela Klette and Burkhard Garweg. Photo: DPA.

Dutch police on Tuesday told people to be on the lookout for three German far-left militants, at large for decades and suspected of a string of recent heists.

Sponsored Article
Why you should attend an international job fair
DPA
Gallery
IN PICTURES: How Munich responded to shooting spree
Sponsored Article
Avoid hidden fees when sending money overseas
Lifestyle
10 rookie errors all Brits make when they arrive in Germany
National
Bavaria train attack: Were police right to shoot to kill?
Sponsored Article
Why Swiss hospitality graduates are in demand
National
How to get German citizenship (or just stay forever)
Sponsored Article
Five things Americans should know about voting abroad
Technology
Brexit will turn Berlin into 'Europe’s startup capital'
Travel
Six soothing day trips to escape the bustle of Berlin
International
'Germany needs to make UK come to its senses'
Features
Six odd things Germans do in the summer
Sponsored Article
Why expats choose international health insurance
Travel
These 10 little-known German towns are a must see
Features
How two gay dads cut through German red tape to start a family
Sponsored Article
Health insurance for expats in Germany: a quick guide
National
Five things to know about guns in Germany
Sponsored Article
Avoid hidden fees when sending money overseas
Culture
10 things you need to know before attending a German wedding
National
Eight weird habits you'll pick up living in Germany
Lifestyle
Six reasons 'super-cool' Berlin isn't all it's cracked up to be
Sponsored Article
Why Swiss hospitality graduates are in demand
Society
Only one country likes getting naked on the beach more than Germany
Lifestyle
23 ridiculously fascinating things you never knew about Berlin
Sponsored Article
Why you should attend an international job fair
Culture
8 German words that perfectly sum up your 20s
Lifestyle
Can't make it past the door at Berlin's most famous club? Help is at hand
Business & Money
Why Frankfurt could steal London's crown as Europe's finance capital
Features
6 surprising things I learned about Germany while editing The Local
Culture
Five sure-fire ways to impress Germans with your manners
10,756
jobs available
Toytown Germany
Germany's English-speaking crowd