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 Pre and post war Germany.

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nobby clark
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PostSubject: Pre and post war Germany.   12/8/2009, 14:05

http://www.thirdreichruins.com/index.htm

This site was posted on the RAOC site,lots to it and I thought it could be of interest here.
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mjm34
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PostSubject: Re: Pre and post war Germany.   12/8/2009, 18:45

Nice one. This is a really interesting site, although it does concentrate on the American Zone, for obvious reasons.
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Stephen Lock
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PostSubject: Re: Pre and post war Germany.   12/8/2009, 22:56

There are a few sites around now that focus on the architectural legacy of the period, or what's left of it.

While many of the buildings built by the Nazis were in the Monumental Style, with varying degrees of success (all the way from quite good to outright kitsch), several of them have not survived.

Either they were destroyed during the war, demolished by the Allies, or have been allowed to fall into disrepair and 60+ years later pose such a safety hazard they have to be demolished.

In some ways I think it's a shame. Yes, I know this is a black period of German history and one certainly does not want to have such buildings turn into shrines for the Neo-Nazis...I understand that. Yet, at the same time, they are a part of history and, in specific cases, I think should be preserved and, in the case of the stadium in Berlin which is totally derelict, re-used so that the "new" use will wipe out the old...eventually.

I remember when my dad was stationed in Germany the 1st time around, we visited Bergesgarten. Beautiful region, first off, and since I was only 6 or 7 I had no inkling whatsoever of its Nazi connections. The Eagle's Nest was still visible up on top of the mountain, in fact I think one could go up to it by one of those up-the-mountainside rails (funcular?). It was in ruins of course.

Destroying all of it I think is wrong. Re-fashioning it, turning it into something else would be good. Perhaps a human rights retreat?

Apart from the attendant history of the place, and its accompanying buildings, the site is spectacular with awesome views and such...I think some good use could be made of it all.

But I suppose there is a concern amongst the Powers That Be that to do anything else with the sites except obliterate them would somehow be seen as "honouring" their legacy, glorifying Nazism or some such BS.

There is, of course, a risk of that, I agree, but if done properly and with sensitive thought, the sites could be maintained, used, and that legacy just slip away into the mists of history, where it belongs. Plus, we should NEVER forget and destroying all the physical evidence of the Nazis will contribute to our forgetting or holding a very shallow view of them.
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Stephen Lock
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PostSubject: Re: Pre and post war Germany.   12/8/2009, 23:47

Also, I was interested in seeing there is a Nazi-era building in Erwitte, which is not far from Soest.

I am not aware of any evidence of Nazi "stuff" in the Hemer/Iserlohn/Soest area, apart from the POW camp above Hemer and the finding of Hitler's last will and testament in Iserlohn as talked about somewhere else here, but it would not surprise me...I did come across a postcard on some other site re the main Marktplatz in Soest bedecked with Nazi banners, but that wasn't unusual anywhere in Germany in the '30s.

I have also long suspected, and may even have heard somewhere, that the Hoennetal was a major, or somewhat major, site, but I have never been able to confirm that.

Most of the sites one sees on the Net tend to be Bavarian and Southern German...not much up in NRW at all, oddly enough.
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PostSubject: Re: Pre and post war Germany.   13/8/2009, 15:50

On my first posting to BAOR I had the "privilege"of living, for a short time, in the civilian mess in Munster,the White Horse Mess. The main building was small but nicely built with an eagle over the main door.The swastika had been removed , but it was obvious where it had been,It was rumoured that the building had an SS background.
There was also a kaserne in Munster with a similar eagle.
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Stephen Lock
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PostSubject: Re: Pre and post war Germany.   14/8/2009, 00:18

Such kasernes etc were all over the place. You may recall a discussion elsewhere on this site about BMH Iserlohn and it's Reichsadler (Reich Eagle).

The whole time BMH was BMH the eagle was perched on the main gate, sans swastika, of course (although I think the wreath remained). Other buildings, possibly in the BMH precincts but I'm no longer sure, had bas-relief eagles on the corners of the buildings, or at least the outlines of them after the original was chiseled off...or perhaps it was some of the barracks, I forget now.

Various post offices in both Hemer, Iserlohn and Soest (?) had older style (i.e. Nazi-era) eagles up on the facades, although some of these had been removed and replaced with the Bundesrepublik eagle...the modern German eagle.
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Stephen Lock
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PostSubject: Re: Pre and post war Germany.   14/8/2009, 00:32

On a slightly different note, when my family and I lived in Iserlohn we lived on a street named Am Tyrol, which was located on one of the north hills, just off Garten Strasse, above the Goethe Institute; a rather "toney" area, actually.

I have since learned the house directly across from us and the property of which I could clearly see from my bedroom window on the 3rd floor (their house was set back quite a bit and didn't face directly onto Am Tyrol lke ours did but rather to the cross-street a ways up) was once the house of some high-ranking Nazi official (a local governor or whatever it was they were called...SS-types, usually). His daughter, apparently, still lived there as of the 70's.

The house we lived in was, at one time, a large single family home and also quite posh. By the time we lived there, the upstairs former attic/servants' quarters had been converted into a flat, the daughter of the woman who owned the house (and whose Iranian ex-husband, who was an architect, had designed our flat) lived on the second floor with her young daughter and Mother and her father lived on the main level. The daughter was fairly okay, friendly enough but not as friendly as we were used to, but Mother was very aloof. Polite, but not at all "friendly."

The newel-post in the marble-floored foyer was made of some sort of blond wood (I'm not very familiar with the various woods, but perhaps it was ash? Elm? Does oak come in blond?) and carved with what appeared to me to be a circa-1900's almost Art Nouveau young male nude...a very discreet nude, but a nude. I have no idea what the story was to that. We asked but the daughter had no idea and Mother wasn't talking....maybe it was the son of the original owners or something, although why they would commission a nude carving of their son and heir is beyond me! I suppose it was the fashion or some such thing; Art Nouveau and all that, dontcha know!

Whether or not the house we were in had any connections to the Reich, I don't know. The family had money and had retained the money and Opa was probably in his 80's, at least, when we lived there and it had been his house, so who knows. He was a nice old man, but half-deaf and a tad senile. Kinda like I am today LOL so we couldn't get any 'family stories' out of him, either...assuming he'd been willing to share them, which I doubt. Mother and the daughter were both somewhat distant.
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PostSubject: Re: Pre and post war Germany.   14/8/2009, 16:17

Just discovered a brilliant new (to me) site

www.forgottenhistory.co.uk

Try it.
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Hardrations
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PostSubject: Re: Pre and post war Germany.   14/8/2009, 16:59

Nobby really good site to check out. I'm saving if for long winter nights to go into in depth.
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Stephen Lock
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PostSubject: Re: Pre and post war Germany.   17/8/2009, 07:06

The forgotten history site supplied by Chemist looks interesting, but limited. I would have thought the barracks in Iserlohn and Hemer would have been listed as well, actually, along with BMH Iserlohn as these were all former WWII German kasernes (Panzer, etc.).

I am aware of a few stories attached to these barracks but of course now, 30+ years on, can't sort which barracks belongs to which story or vice versa.

A few of those stories have been relayed to this site here and there (a few ghosts stories, one other story involving a wall used for firing squads (lovely...), etc.).

Even while I was living in Hemer and later in Iserlohn, I was interested in the former history of these sites, but of course nobody was willing to divulge much. Some of the German civilian workers had been around since God's Bar Mitzvah and were probably a storehouse of information but A) I didn't know many of them very well and B) they weren't interested in talking about that period.

Ditto for the friend of my dad's I've mentioned (Erich, who was the manager of the Hemer heating plant and a former WWII German pilot). He had a huge blond oak Reichs eagle perched on the top of his living room schrank, complete with swastika (which was verboten but he had it anyway). Whether or not he was ever a party member, I don't know; he wouldn't talk about that aspect at all. He, like many of his generation, always maintained he was "just a soldier"...well, in his case, "Just an airman"....but I suspect he was. Perhaps not an actual "Nazi" but certainly it would have been expedient to have been a party member, especially if one was an officer, which he was. Doesn't necessarily "mean" anything.
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PostSubject: Re: Pre and post war Germany.   17/8/2009, 12:27

Stephen
Looking at this site ,it will almost certainly expand,there must be mountains of archive material to be quarried.
My interest centres around Munster,I would like to see York Barracks, Oxford Barracks,and Lincoln featured. Give it time
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PostSubject: Re: Pre and post war Germany.   17/8/2009, 16:46

I was stationed at York Barracks 1952 - 1954 only thing is we called it Gremmendorf Kaserne (ex Luftwaffe) then, only heard the name York Barracks since I joined this site. In those days it was 20 Armd Bde (6 Armd Div) Headquarters, with the 17/21 Lancers as the resident regiment and 4 Squadron 6 Armd Div Sigs providing communications .. great days ..

Len (Ciphers)
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PostSubject: Re: Pre and post war Germany.   17/8/2009, 18:35

I lived over the HQ building in York barracks and used the Garrison Mess 1984-86,then moved to a quarter in Wiegandweg,next door to the barracks.

The QRIH were resident,had the "pleasure" of dining with them while our mess kitchen was being refurbed. Their mess was magnificent,real Luftwaffe style. Old Shickelgruber did'nt half spend some money on his hoards
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PostSubject: Re: Pre and post war Germany.   17/8/2009, 19:39

Chemist wrote:
Stephen
Looking at this site ,it will almost certainly expand,there must be mountains of archive material to be quarried.
My interest centres around Munster,I would like to see York Barracks, Oxford Barracks,and Lincoln featured. Give it time

I take it, then, this is a relatively new site? Rather makes sense as I think of it.

I agree, there probably are mountains of archival material out there regarding both British and Canadian sites that were once German (both WWI and WWII). It will be interesting to learn about these.
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Stephen Lock
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PostSubject: Re: Pre and post war Germany.   17/8/2009, 19:59

Chemist wrote:
I lived over the HQ building in York barracks and used the Garrison Mess 1984-86,then moved to a quarter in Wiegandweg,next door to the barracks.

The QRIH were resident,had the "pleasure" of dining with them while our mess kitchen was being refurbed. Their mess was magnificent,real Luftwaffe style. Old Shickelgruber did'nt half spend some money on his hoards

This is what fascinates me so much about that era, politics and the horrors perpetuated by the Nazis aside (if one can actually do that). The style of some of the locations can be quite awesome. I think that some of the better work (much of it was actually pure kitsch but even amongst some of that there is some at least interesting pieces) has been "buried" under the abhorrence for the politics. Understandable yet at the same time I think sometimes the reaction to "those Nazis" -- as justifiable as it is -- impacts on a more objective appreciation, if that is the word I want, of some of the buildings.

There is always a risk, of course, of appearing to excuse the excesses of the Nazis when talking about their architectural legacies. We've all heard the apologist line of "Well, the trains ran on time..." or some similar glossing over. That is not my intent here. Even as I write this I am very conscious of what I am writing appearing to somehow glorify that regime or make excuses for it or not take into account what a bunch of brutal thugs they were.

I look at mock-ups of "Germania", for instance, and think if Hitler had been successful in building that in Berlin -- replacing the Berlin we know with his "Germania" -- that aside from the brutality of the regime, the architecture and the city itself might well of stood the test of time.

Of course, creating Germania would have resulted in a massive displacement of thousands of Berliners, a total razing of the historical city which is Berlin, as much destruction as creation so perhaps it would have been more a legacy to that than anything. Yet, we look at the Paris of today with its wide boulevards and architecture and declare it a beautiful city, forgetting what Paris looked like and was prior to that...a medieval city, filled with twisting narrow streets and closely bound houses.

I suppose one cannot separate the Monumentalism the Nazis promoted from the whole Nazi philosophy, the odious philosophy. The architecture they envisioned was all about their new religion, a Germanic paganism, updated for the 1930's. Half-crocked ideas of so-called "Germanic mysticism", Odin-worship, etc. A totally perverted concept of what the old tribal way of life may have been. If one didn't fit into that racial ideal, one was eliminated, as we know. Pretty horrific stuff when applied to real life.

So, yeah, that, as I think of it, is why few can separate the architecture and style from the politics and philosophy. It is seen as almost inhuman, too grandiose, too overpowering, too monumental and therefore totally negating the human, the true human, aspect.
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PostSubject: Re: Pre and post war Germany.   17/8/2009, 23:19

A good post Stephen .. well put.

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PostSubject: Re: Pre and post war Germany.   18/8/2009, 10:01

As has been said a good philosophical set of points.

As a lad I met German POW with "Gott mit Uns " on their belts. Every German soldier carried that message as he went about whatever he did.

On the architecture thing-I have just been listening to a piece on the radio about Poundbury, the village sponsored by You Know Who. I can't help making a small, slightly tongue in cheek, comparison.
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PostSubject: Re: Pre and post war Germany.   19/8/2009, 20:36

Over here in Canada we have a new tv series, Lost Worlds I think it's called, that examines the cities under existing cities. Quite interesting. The host manages to contact various city authorities in, say Rome or Berlin or what-have-you, and gain access to the subterranean parts of the city.

Down below street level are these massive facades, many which now serve as the foundation for the more modern buildings up on top. The whole premise of the series is that over the centuries instead of tearing down and rebuilding, the norm was to simply build over or on top of so that the original Rome is actually 20 feet below modern Rome. Ditto for many other major cities in Europe and UK.

One segment featured the "hidden" Berlin, and how so much of the Reich-era buildings were either converted to something totally different or also 'buried'. There is, apparently, a hill in Berlin that is now a popular park. Berlin itself is built on a flat plain, with rather unstable earth under it, so this "hill" is an anomaly. What it actually is is a massive Nazi fortification, technically a real marvel of engineering and impregnable even for modern warfare.

The Allies were unsuccessful in blowing it up or demolishing it so they took the rubble of post-war Berlin and buried it instead. The only thing visible is the top of a couple of the turrets which are now at 'ground level' but were actually something like 6 stories high or something.

The host of the show arranged for access inside (he does this quite regularly and I have no idea how he swings it) and the interior is all these massive concrete walls, massive columns, huge 'salons', corridors, etc. Huge. And it's all still there, trapped in time. Very interesting.

During that segment, as I recall, he mentioned that modern Berliners, two or three generations separated from the war, have no idea what this hill actually is. They may have an inkling it is artificial but beyond that they have no idea what is actually beneath their feet as they laze about in this wonderful, bucolic stadtpark.
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PostSubject: Re: Pre and post war Germany.   19/8/2009, 20:44

I would add, as a point of interest, that here in Calgary (which is not a particularly "old" city...a little over a hundred years old) we have a disturbing tendency to demolish older buildings and throw up some gawd-awful modern, Bauhaus-inspired piece of crap (what Thomas Wolfe referred to in his From Bauhaus to Our House as "German worker housing stacked end on end...").

Older family homes with character...gone. Older sandstone public buildings....by and large, gone. Interesting and rather quirky buildings built by oil and cattle barons...gone. Some were even torn down to make room for, of all things, a freakin' parking lot!!

Sad, really....
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