For sale: villa of Nazi leader Joseph Goebbels

For sale: villa of Nazi leader Joseph Goebbels
For sale: villa of Nazi leader Joseph Goebbels
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Berlin offers the villa of Hitler’s propaganda minister Joseph Goebbels for free. The state is no longer able or willing to pay for the maintenance, the search for a good buyer has been fruitless for years and demolition is also difficult. The mayor of Wandlitz, where the villa is located, is furious.

Berlin has a real estate problem: a large villa on a lake on a vast estate of seventeen hectares is causing the city state headaches. The big problem is the first owner and resident of the once luxurious building: Nazi leader Joseph Goebbels. Goebbels was Hitler’s propaganda minister, it was he who proclaimed total war (“Will Ihr den totalen Krieg?“) in his infamous speech on February 18, 1943 in the Berlin Sportpalast.

For years, the state of Berlin has been trying to find a new destination for Goebbels’ villa. The building continues to decay and attracts curious tourists who enter the estate and peek through the windows. What do they see? Fading glory, peeling ceilings, large empty rooms, a fireplace that has been unused for decades and parquet that needs to be renovated. According to the German media Image and RBB, the costs for security and maintenance run into the millions annually.

© AFP

Generous gift

The villa is located in the municipality of Wandlitz in the state of Brandenburg, about 40 kilometers from Berlin. Berlin’s Finance Minister Stefan Evers (CDU) cannot make either the municipality, Brandenburg, or the federal government enthusiastic about real estate. He makes a final appeal and now threatens to give it away for free. “I am offering the property to anyone who wants to take it over as a gift from the state of Berlin. If no one wants the site, we will demolish the villa.”

The mayor of Wandlitz, Oliver Borchert, calls Evers’ statements inappropriate and harmful. “The statements do not do justice to the historical significance of the site. What I would not like to see is that the state of Berlin would give away the area to a private individual who would then pursue ideological purposes with the property.”

© AP

The Berlin real estate fund decided in 2016 not to sell the dilapidated villa. It feared that it would “fall into the wrong hands” and “become a place of pilgrimage for Nazis”. A few years ago, according to Borchert, extreme right-wing groups tried to gain a foothold. The Reichsbürger movement in particular (which does not recognize the modern German state and wants to return to the German Empire) is said to prey on the site.

Borchert is also firmly opposed to the demolition. “The destruction of such historical evidence is not good for our society.” He is now applying for funding to include the area in the “National Urban Development Projects” program. He is considering, among other things, a center for education about democracy and a university campus on the site. But it is very questionable whether he will be able to raise the necessary money.

Mistresses

Goebbels was given the site in 1936 and had the enormous mansion on Lake Bogensee built with money from the UFA, the film production company that promoted Nazism. In the villa he received Nazi leaders and had affairs with actresses and other mistresses. He did not leave home until April 1945, and a few days later he committed suicide with his wife in Hitler’s bunker.

After the end of the Nazi dictatorship, the Allies briefly used the site as a military hospital. In GDR times there was a youth college run by the Free German Youth (FDJ). Since 2000, the villa has fallen into disuse and decay has begun to set in.

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