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Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Hitler Olympic Village Berlin

Hitler Olympic Village Berlin - Conservations are in a race against time to save the abandoned Olympic Village built for the so-called 'Nazi Games' in 1936. The site on the western edge of Berlin is where athletes from all over the world headed 76 years ago to take part in the most infamous Olympic Games in history. But the athlete's accommodation has been largely left to rot since it was abandoned by Soviet forces in 1992 with only 25 of the 145 original buildings remaining - including the crumbling swimming pool, gym, theatre and dining hall. Jens Becker, from the DKB Bank which owns the site, told The Times of the ongoing struggle to save the historic site. He said: 'This is the oldest Olympic village that exists and that is why it is important to save it. It is a part of German history which nearly disappeared and now we are trying to save it. 'It was the first permanent Olympic village. The athletes were impressed - each house had its own steward and there had never been a swimming pool before at an Olympic village.' Around 4,000 athletes – including Great Britain’s 208-strong squad – took part in the Games in the summer of 1936 as Europe teetered on the brink on war. Adolf Hitler looked on with delight as his German ‘supermen’ lived up to his dreams of glory, winning the Games with a medal count of nearly 90; Great Britain came tenth with just 14. The only real slap in the face for the Führer was the success of America’s black track-and-field athlete Jesse Owens. He won four gold medals and was the star of the Games in the world’s eyes – even if Hitler regarded him as inferior because of his colour. Ironically, Owens’s tiny room – No 5, in block 39 – is so far the only athlete’s room that has been renovated. It’s a simple space that reflects the modesty of the humble man who stayed there – a man who, paradoxically, enjoyed more freedom in Nazi Germany at that time that he did in his segregated U.S. homeland. A short walk from Owens’s quarters lies the ‘Restaurant of the Nations’, the eating hall for the athletes. The record books tell how in three weeks the participants consumed 100 cows, 91 pigs, over 650 lambs, 8,000lb of coffee, 150,000lb of vegetables and 160,000 pints of milk. Sven Voege, who’s currently in negotiations to rent out some of the village sites as exhibition rooms, said 'it's a shame' so little of the site has been restored. He said: 'Because it is inextricably bound up with Nazism, most Germans avoid it. It is a place that lives and breathes sportsmanship and history, side by side. 'But German history is something we shun because of our past.’‘The Führer was teetotal and the order for the athletes was no drinking,’ says Voege. ‘But the French and the Italians railed against the idea of no wine, while the Belgians and Dutch thought the prospect of no beer was too much to contemplate. 'All four nations were the exception and were served alcohol at every meal.’ Only the salon where the Italians dined alongside the Soviets is preserved. The room where the British ate is a shell filled with fallen masonry. Hopes of refurbishing the building, which served in WWII as a hospital for wounded German troops, have fallen through. In 1936 a huge steel-and-wood sign depicting the five Olympic rings stood on top of the Restaurant of the Nations. That’s now propped up against a back wall, forgotten, in the off-limits gymnasium. Outside the hall is the 400m loop, which is just as it was when Godfrey Brown, Godfrey Rampling, Freddie Wolff and Bill Roberts pounded it in practice before going on to win gold for the UK in the 4x400m relay race. ‘Children were allowed into the village, and the English runners were firm favourites with them because of their impeccable manners,’ says Voege. ‘They always stopped to say hello to the children and sign autographs.’ During their stay, there were constant reminders of the Nazi regime’s less savoury side. Athletes were surrounded by officials in Nazi uniforms. And a bas-relief of marching German soldiers, which still stands near the theatre where athletes went to watch variety shows, hinted at Hitler’s future military ambitions. After the war ended in 1945, the Olympic Village was occupied for nearly 50 years by the Soviet Army. Among the new tenants were the torturers of SMERSH and the KGB, interrogators who turned the subterranean rooms housing the swimming pool’s heating system into a theatre of pain and death. The cremated remains of victims lie strewn over the site. Meanwhile, mocking Hitler’s dreams of a ‘thousand-year Reich’, a painting was added of heroic Red Army soldiers doing battle with the Nazis in the ‘Great Patriotic War’, which claimed the lives of over 25 million Soviets. So far, £1.7million has been spent to re-roof the swimming pool but there is no money left for the conservationists to work on restoring the rest of the village.

Hitler Olympic Village Berlin Rating: 4.5 Diposkan Oleh: Arm Aritn


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