• Germany's news in English
 
app_header_v3
No hope of selling Goebbels love nest, Berlin admits
One of the disused buildings at Wandlitz. Photo: DPA

No hope of selling Goebbels love nest, Berlin admits

AFP · 27 Jan 2016, 08:42

Published: 27 Jan 2016 08:42 GMT+01:00

Berlin has been trying to sell the - in theory - prime slab of real estate north of the German capital for 15 years.

But rather than a gem that the cash-strapped city, which is scrambling to pay for a record refugee influx, can liquidate, Berlin has admitted it sees the asset as little more than a millstone around its neck.

Berlin Immobilienmanagement GmbH (BIM), the city's wholly owned real estate agency, has in effect given up on the sale and expressed concerns it could fall into "the wrong hands".

"I am really afraid that this could become a shrine for Nazis and I don't think we should take that risk," the executive director of the BIM, Birgit Moehring, said.

Instead, it hopes to lease the property, whose idyllic setting is nestled in a wood and perched on the small Bogen lake.

The squat, sprawling house was used by the top Nazi as "country retreat" perfect for trysts with a revolving cast of budding actresses and paramours.

"It was refuge from the busy city" 40 kilometres (25 miles) to the south, BIM spokesman Christian Breitkreutz told AFP.

Berlin itself bought the land complete with a small cabin in 1936 for Goebbels, Hitler's nefariously skilled spin doctor, in honour of his 39th birthday.

Goebbels was taken with its secluded setting and subsequently had a much larger villa built on the site bankrolled by UFA, the movie production house he ran with an iron fist.

The luxury facilities included a private cinema and spacious living quarters overlooking the lake.

Joseph Goebbels. Photo: DPA

Attacked by damp cold

Today, the original generous picture windows, rich wood panelling and marble fixtures can still be seen, said Roberto Mueller, who has worked as a guard at the site since 1984.

But the house, ravaged by moisture and biting cold in the isolated and abandoned site, has begun to rapidly crumble.

The city had repeatedly tried to sell the house in recent years and a last attempt, via a public tender, came up dry in December, Moehring said, confirming that BIM had finally given up.

Goebbels and his wife Magda committed suicide in Hitler's bunker as Berlin was overrun by Soviet Army troops in May 1945, after she murdered their six children.

Dealing with the Goebbels villa has been all the more complicated because it is on the same slice of land as another vestige of the country's tumultuous past.

In the post-war years, East Germany built a vast complex on the land in the Stalinist style of the early 1950s to house a training centre for the FDJ, the communist party's youth indoctrination organisation.

The regime also used it to put up visiting party cadres from "brother states" such as Vietnam, Cuba and Angola.

At the time, the neighbouring Goebbels villa was converted into a supermarket for FDJ students and a children's nursery, Müller said.

In total, the four main post-war buildings cover some 1,400 square metres (15,000 square feet) of bedrooms, conference halls, reception and banquet space.

Day by day, they are falling apart.

Phantom village

"At present there is no heating, no running water, there is serious damage to the facades, the roofs are falling apart and inside there is a lot to do too," Moehring admits, saying renovation costs would be "considerable".

Currently the only viable use for the phantom village has been as a unique, evocative film set, most recently for the adaptation of the international wartime bestseller "Alone in Berlin" starring Emma Thompson and Brendan Gleeson.

"What would really appeal to us would be if someone arrived with an intelligent concept to use this place which is so steeped in history,"

Moehring said, suggesting a continuing education campus or a hotel as other possible options.

Story continues below…

She said BIM had been in touch with potential investors. But a major stumbling block remains the fact that the Goebbels villa is a listed building.

Because that prevents any major change to the structure, Moehring would like to see it stripped of its protected status.

"I am someone who absolutely defends the importance in this city of always being able to feel the presence of history," she said.

"But you also have to ask the question whether it is sensible to maintain certain buildings under the protection a historic monument grants."

If it were lifted, Moehring said the best thing might be the most radical measure: razing it to the ground.

Germany has often been confronted with questions over how to deal with the toxic legacy of sites linked to its bitter 20th century history.

Hitler's own "Eagle's Nest" mountain-top lodge now has a restaurant, a cafe and shops selling books with titles such as "Hitler's Mountain" that draws thousands of tourists each year.

Many of Germany's ministries pitched up in the Nazis' former official buildings when the government moved to Berlin from Bonn in 1999.

And the hangars of the former airport Tempelhof, a prime example of the Nazis' architectural gigantism, and the erstwhile headquarters of communist East Germany's feared Stasi secret police are both being used to house tens of thousands of asylum seekers.

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

Your comments about this article

Today's headlines
This Week in History
75 years since one of Holocaust's worst massacres
Photo: DPA

On Thursday, German president Joachim Gauck spoke in Kiev 75 years after the Nazis slaughtered 33,771 Jews during one of the worst single massacres of the Holocaust.

Six things you need to know about troubled Deutsche Bank

Shares in Deutsche bank plunged on Friday morning, dragging down other European banks and markets worldwide. Here are six things to know about Germany's biggest lender.

Deutsche Bahn jacks up prices for first time in 3 years
Photo: DPA

Germany's main rail provider, the state-owned Deutsche Bahn (DB), announced on Friday that it will raise prices on long-distance train travel.

Baby found alive in suitcase with skeleton in Hanover
File photo: DPA.

A baby has been found alive, along with the skeleton of another infant inside of a suitcase in Hanover, police reported on Friday.

Morocco to speed up repatriation of illegal migrants
Photo: DPA

Morocco has agreed to streamline the procedures for the repatriation of citizens living illegally in Germany, the royal court said late on Thursday.

890,000 refugees arrived in Germany last year - not 1.1m
Photo: DPA

Previous reports had suggested that around 1.1 million people entered Germany to seek asylum last year. But now the German government has confirmed the number was actually lower.

Racist attacks cast cloud over Dresden Unity Day planning
A police vehicle in Dresden. Photo: DPA.

As Dresden prepares to host Germany’s national Unity Day celebrations on Monday, the capital of the eastern state of Saxony is upping security after a mosque was targeted by a homemade bomb.

Sinking Deutsche Bank stock sends shock across Europe
Photo: DPA

Shares in Germany's biggest lender Deutsche Bank plummeted on the Frankfurt stock market on Friday, dragging other European banks and global markets down with it, after reports some customers were pulling money out.

The Local List
10 things you never knew about German reunification
Reunification celebrations in Hanover in 2014. Photo: DPA

With German Unity Day (October 3rd) happening on Monday, Germans are looking forward to a three-day weekend. But did you know these facts about reunification and German Unity Day?

Munich pharmacy’s nighttime porno show draws crowd
Photo: DPA

When a police patrol in Munich's Sendlinger Tor area noticed a crowd gathered outside a pharmacy window they went to investigate. But the onlookers weren't interested in a new line of flu medicine.

Sponsored Article
The Inner Circle: the secret to dating in Berlin
Germany's 10 most Instagram-able places
Sponsored Article
Why Jordan is the ‘Different’ East
Lifestyle
15 pics that prove Germany is absolutely enchanting in autumn
Lifestyle
10 German films you have to watch before you die
Lifestyle
6 things about Munich that’ll stay with you forever
Sponsored Article
Retiring abroad: ensuring your health is covered
Lifestyle
10 pieces of German slang you'll never learn in class
National
Seven great reasons to stay in Germany this September
National
Ouch! Naked swimmer hospitalized after angler hooks his penis
National
Six reasons why Berlin is now known as 'the failed city'
Sponsored Article
Life in Jordan: 'Undiscovered treasure'
National
15 tell-tale signs you’ll never quite master German
Culture
7 American habits that make Germans very, very uncomfortable
Sponsored Article
The Inner Circle: the secret to dating in Berlin
Rhineland
Story of a fugitive cow who outwitted police for weeks before capture
Culture
Eleven famous Germans with surnames that'll make your sides split
Lifestyle
The best ways to get a visa as an American in Germany
Gallery
Germany's 17 Olympic gold medals in pictures
14 facts you never knew about the Brandenburg Gate
Society
Ten times Germans proved they really, really love beer
National
Six things you need to know when moving to Germany
Travel
These 10 little-known German towns are a must see
International
German scientists prove birds can sleep while flying
Technology
London v. Berlin: Which is better for startups?
Lifestyle
13 mortifying mistakes German learners always make
6,718
jobs available
Toytown Germany
Germany's English-speaking crowd