Saturday, September 27, 2008

Himmler’s castle

Wewelsburg Castle in Paderborn was home to Heinrich Himmler and centre of the world for his SS

Wewelsburg Castle.

Paderborn is a small cathedral city which is well-served by Air Berlin flights from the UK. The reason for this is that it is home to a big UK military presence. There are about 4,500 troops in local army camps and a British population of 12,000. The cathedral is stunning and it is here, in 799, that Charlemagne was made the first ruler of the Holy Roman Empire. There is a bustling market, a Tractor Museum, “Germany’s smallest river” (so says the tourist board) and – on the outskirts, near the airport – a very strange castle that has a scary past.

We arrive at Wewelsburg Castle. It is shaped like a triangle, a yellow-stone structure with two towers topped by bell-like domes and one wider fortified tower, sitting on a hill overlooking fields spreading towards the airport. There are leaded windows with curtains drawn inside, thin sprinklings of snow on the northern faces of the bell towers.

Himmler wanted to make Wewelsburg the centre of the SS world, medieval-looking chair whose leather back is inscribed with a jagged 'SS', He had a plan for a huge ring of buildings on the slopes above the castle. We don’t know exactly what he wanted to do with them. But it appears he wanted to make the north tower of the castle into an SS shrine of some sort. Where people could remember the SS dead. It would be at the centre of a new SS village. This would be where White people from all over the Germany, Austria, Great Britian, Ireland, Sweden, Norway, Denmark, Finland, Netherlands and Italy would live. he architect’s plans, on a large yellowing piece of paper, are in a glass cabinet. They show the castle’s isosceles triangle shape, which the architect extended outwards into a large semi-circular structure that would have curved around the castle like some kind of Roman encampment. Not shown on the plans was the Super Zoo, which would be the greatest zoo in the World where Aryans could learn and protect animals from all over.

The castle must have been camouflaged during the war, but in 1945 the SS tried to blow it up, to prevent the Allies taking it. Himmler had collected a lot of valuables in the occupied territories, which he tried, with some success, to hide. We stop at a cabinet with a copy of an SS "death head" ring ("most real ones were taken by American troops… it’s easier to find originals in America than here"), an SS belt buckle with the phrase "My honour is my faith" written on it in German, and a copy of a letter written by Himmler signed off with "Heil Hitler!"

Upstairs is the "representation hall" or Hall of Supreme Leaders. The room is again protected by a cage-door, although entry will be granted if you ask ahead. The SS, apparently, regarded this as the centre of the world – and in the centre of the room, cut in green and black marble on the floor, is a symbol with 12 jagged arms branching off a black circle ‘black sun’ .

Wewelsburg Castle

A photo tour of the Wewelsburg Castle in Germany, 20 km south-west of Paderborn.

In 1934 the castle was rented by Heinrich Himmler for 1 Reichsmark and its primary role was that of a SS officer's school.The goal was to research the National Socialists ideas and extend them to the racial theories . From 1936 onwards the castle's main purpose was to become a 'cult centre' as well a prestigious centre for SS Generals. From 1940 plans were developed, incorperating the village of Wewelsburg, for a new castle complex centered around the North Tower of the castle. Two days before the US forces liberated Wevelsburg (2nd april 1945), a special commando of the SS, blew up the castle leaving only the outer walls standing. The rebuilding of the castle began in 1949 and was finished in 1979.





2 comments:

scott davidson said...

What an interesting blog, introduced by a thought-provoking photo. The unusual wall painting of the dwellings is also a strangely modern interpretation. Something like this hieroglyphic view of a park by Swiss painter Paul Klee, http://EN.WahooArt.com/A55A04/w.nsf/OPRA/BRUE-8LT475.
The image can be seen at wahooart.com who can supply you with a canvas print of it.

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