Homes & Gardens
July 09, 2006

Posted by BDM Historian

I came across the article below, which was originally published in the English magazine "Homes and Gardens" in November 1938 by accident while searching for something else on the web, but thought it would fit in with the subject of everyday life in the Third Reich.

Hitler's Mountain Home

It is over twelve years since Herr Hitler fixed on the site of his one and only home. It had to be close to the Austrian border, hardly ten miles from Mozart's own medieval Salzburg. At first no more than a hunter's shack, "Haus Wachenfeld" has grown, until it is to-day quite a handsome Bavarian chalet, 2,000 feet up on the Obersalzberg amid pinewoods and cherry orchards. Here, in the early days, Hitler's widowed sister, Frau Angela Raubal, kept house for him on a "peasant" scale. Then, as his famous book, Mein Kampf ("My Struggle") became a best-seller of astonishing power (4,500,000 copies of it have been sold), Hitler began to think of replacing that humble shack by a house and garden of suitable scope. In this matter he has throughout been his own architect.

There is nothing pretentious about the Fuehrer's little estate. It is one that any merchant of Munich or Nuremberg might possess in these lovely hills.

The entrance hall is filled with a curious display of cactus plants in majolica pots. Herr Hitler's study is fitted as a modern office, and leading out of this is a telephone exchange. From here it is possible for the Fuehrer to invite his friends or Ministers to fly over to Berchesgarden, landing on his own aerodrome just below the chalet lawns.

The site commands the fairest view in all Europe. This is to say much, I know. But in these Bavarian Alps there is a peculiar softness of greenery, with snow-white cascades and forest-clad pinnacles, like the Schoenfeldspitze and Teufelshoerner.

Hitler's home looks out upon his native Austria. Meals are often served on the terrace on little tables shaded by big canvas umbrellas. From this view-point a chain of drowsy lakes is seen far below, with ancient shrine-chapels hidden in ferny folds of towering rocks. And since the Reichsuehrer settled here as "Squire of Wachenfeld," the whole region has been starred with motor speedways, even as far as Oberammergau.

The colour scheme throughout this bright, airy chalet is a light jade green. In outside rooms, like the sun-parlour, chairs and tables are of white plaited cane. Here Hitler will read the home and foreign papers which his own air-pilot, Hansel Baur, brings him every day from Berlin before lunch.

At this altitude the Bavarian sun is at its most genial. Even at Christmas time when deep snows are out, Haus Wachenfield basks in warmth like the Engadine's. The effect of light and air in the house is heightened by the rolling and trilling of many Hartz mountain canaries in gilded cages which hang or stand in most of the rooms.

The curtains are of printed linen, or fine damask in the softer shades. The Fuehrer is his own decorator, designer, and furnisher, as well as architect. He is constantly enlarging the place, building on new guest-annexes, and arranging in these his favourite antiques – chiefly German furniture of the eighteenth century, for which agents in Munich are on the look out.

It is a mistake to suppose that week-end guests are all, or even mainly, State officials. Hitler delights in the society of brilliant foreigners, especially painters, singers, and musicians. As host he is a droll raconteur; we all know how surprised were Mr. Lloyd George and his party when they accepted an invitation to Haus Wachenfield.

The guest bedrooms are hung with old engravings. But more interesting than any of these to the visitor are the Fuehrer's own water-colour sketches. Time was when a hungry Hitler was glad to raise a few marks by selling these little works; none measure more than about eight inches square, and each is signed "A. Hitler" – unmistakably, if also illegibly!

The gardens are laid out simply enough. Lawns at different levels are planted with flowering shrubs, as well as roses and other blooms in due season. The Fuehrer, I may add, has a passion for cut flowers in his home, as well as for music.

Every morning at nine he goes out for a walk with his gardeners about their day's work. These men, like the chaffeur and air-pilot, are not so much servants as local friends. A life-long vegetarian at table, Hitler's kitchen plots are both varied and heavy in produce. Even in his meatless diet Hitler is something of a gourmet – as Sir John Simon and Anthony Eden were surprised to note when they dined with him in the Presidial Palace at Berlin. His Bavarian chef, Herr Kannenberg, contrives an imposing array of vegetarian dishes, savoury and rich, pleasing to the eye as well as to the palate, and all conforming to the dietic standards which Hitler exacts. but at Haus Wachenfeld he keeps a generous table for guests of normal tastes. Here bons viveurs like Field Marshals Goering and von Blomberg, and Joachim von Ribbentrop will forgather at dinner. Elaborate dishes like Caneton à la presse and truite saumoné à la Monseigneur will then be served, with fine wines and liqueurs of von Ribbentrop's expert choosing. Cigars and cigarettes are duly lighted at this terrace feast – though Hitler himself never smokes, nor does he take alcohol in any form.

All visitors are shown their host's model kennels, where he breeds magnificent Alsatians. Some of his pedigree pets are allowed the run of the house, especially on days when Herr Hitler gives a "Fun Fair" to the local children. On such a day, when State affairs are over, the Squire himself, attended by some of his guests, will stroll through the woods into hamlets above and below. There rustics sit at cottage doors carving trinkets and toys in wood, ivory, and bone. It is then the little ones are invited to the house. Coffee, cakes, fruits, and sweets are laid for them on trestle tables in the grassy orchards. Then Frauen Goebbels and Göring, in dainty Bavarian dress, perform dances and folk-songs, while the bolder spirits are given joy-rides in Herr Hitler's private airplane.

Nor must I forget to mention the archery-butts at the back of the chalet. It is strange to watch the burly Field-Marshall Goering, as chief of the most formidable air force in Europe, taking a turn with the bow and arrow at straw targets of twenty-five yards range. There is as much to-do about those scarlet bulls'-eyes as though the fate of nations depended on a full score.

But I have said enough to convey the idea of a sunny sub-alpine home, hundreds of miles from Berlin's uproar, and set amid an unsophisticated peasantry of carvers and hunters. This is only a home in which Hitler can laugh and take his ease – or even "conduct tours" by means of the tripod telescope which he himself operates on the terrace for his visitors. "This place is mine," he says simply. "I built it with money that I earned." Then he takes you into his library, where you note that quite half the books are on history, painting, architecture, and music. When it is fine enough to dine in the open air, one sees a piano made ready for the after-dinner concert. Local talent will supply violin and cello for pieces by Mozart or Brahms. But at the piano itself it is always that English-speaking giant (he is 6 ft. 4 ins.) – Dr. Ernst ("Putzi") Hanfstaengl who presides as a composer of all-German renown.

The article came from Wikipedia. Click here to see it there. All the links in this article go back to Wikipedia.


Heidersdorf - part 3
July 08, 2006

Posted by BDM Historian.

Chapter 3
Three who can't find their way Home

Irm looked so hard her eyes almost fell out of her head as she walked across the sunlit courtyard at the Stettin train station. Where could the others be; Inge and Shorty, and Kathrin in particular? "They must be on the platform," she thought but just then she saw a white blouse glistening at a side entrance. That was Shorty! Quickly, Irm ran in large steps along the side of the train station building.

"Irm," Shorty called excitedly when she drew close and tried without any luck to free one of her hands to greet her. In one hand, she was holding the colorful giraffe from the Untergau, who had been decorated with a sky blue collar with a nearly fresh rose in honor of the day. From the other hand hung a small, about four-year old girl who was screaming loudly and kept rubbing her eyes with coal black fingers so that her tears left light streaks and spots on her dirty face. Besides Shorty stood a boy in light blue sport shots, holding the crossbar on a lttle wagon in which lay a fat baby among pillows and blankets, who was screaming along with the others.

"They insisted on coming to the station with me," Shorty said helplessly. "And no look at them! Lieschen! Peterle, be quiet already! I'll be coming back!" - "Are those your siblings?" Irm asked. The boy on the crossbar looked at her contemptuously: "Well, what else would we be!" - "Gustav!" Shorty gave her brother a jab, "Don't be so rude!" - "Bah!" said Gustav and the two smaller ones kept crying endlessly.

Irm stood across from all the misery a bit uncertain. "Are you here all alone? Where's your mother?" - "At work," said Shorty. "She works in a factory, you know. The little ones were supposed to stay with Mrs. Papken. She lives next to us in the same building. But we snuck out when she went shopping. They have to be here for my very first trip. But I didn't think they were going to act like this. And Gustav tells me suddenly that he doesn't know the way home now. I don't know what I'm supposed to do!"

Irm kneeled next to little Lieschen and wiped her sticky face with her handkerchief. "Listen," she said, "if you're real quiet now then I'll give you a chocolate cookie." Lieschen looked at her suspiciously: "You're not just saying that?" - "Of course not - look here." And she showed her a promising blue bag. "But you're not allowed to do any more crying until Shorty has left."

Lieschen energetically wiped her eyes with her fist and even little Peter inside the cart had gotten quiet in the meantime. Shorty felt a little better. "But I still don't know how to get them back home!" - "I will ask Kathrin, she'll know what to do." And Irm was already off.

At the main entrance she ran into Ms. Zielke. "Hurry, hurry!" she called, "Kathrin is going to call everyone to attention in a minute!" - "Miss Zielke," Irm said a bit out of breath. "I have to talk to Kathrin. Shorty's outside with her three little siblings. They can't find their way home. Kathrin has to help us, Ms. Zielke!" - "Good grief," Ms. Zielke shook her head, "you've got nothing but nonsense in your heads - running to Kathrin just for that. As if she hasn't got anything else to do. Where are the brats?"

Grumbling, she let Irm pull her along. "There's nothing to do," she said when she saw Shorty standing there hanging her head. "I'll get the brats home. You go on your vacation in peace!" - "Really?" Shorty still sighed a little; it must be really hard to always be the oldest and smartest, even if she was only 10 years old herself. - "Honestly. What Ms. Zieken promises, she keeps."

Shorty breathed a sigh of relief. "I'm so glad!" she said and let Ms. Zieken take Peterle into her arms, and Lieschen by the hand, and send Peterle to the luggage check-in. "Those people'll take a cart if need be."

When they reached the big platform, all the girls were already standing at attention in a long row. Irm and Shorty quickly queued up at the end. "Quickly, quickly" called Kathrin. Then she noticed Ms. Zielke. "Who've you got there?" Irm and Shorty exchanged nervous glances. If Ms. Zielke would tell her everything? But she didn't think of it: "Shorty's little siblings, they've come to see their big sister leave on the train." Kathrin gently touched Peterle's blonde curly hair:
"Then you two better wave eagerly, okay?" And then she was gone again.

At the front of the train were two carts just for the Jungmaedel going to Heidersdorf. Irm and Shorty climbed into one compartment from where they had seen Inge wave at them. Kathrin walked along the outside of the train again: "Don't you stick your heads and arms out of the windows and keep the doors closed!" Irm had to laugh. What ideas Kathrin had about them! She passed her blue bag of chocolate cookies to Ms. Zielke through the window: "For the little ones! But make sure Gustav doesn't gobble them down all by himself!" Then the train gave a jolt and everyone started waving with their handkerchiefs, the Jungmaedel from the train and the many mothers from the platform. "Looks like a big swarm of white birds," Irm thought. Lieschen was crying again now, but Peterle smiled happily and Gustav trotted alongside the train for as far as he could: "Don't come back home anytime soon, you old goat!"

"Ugh," said Shorty when the train had left the station and threw her backpack into the luggage rack. "Hopefully Gustav won't forget to put the apartment key underneath the welcome mat for mother. Ah, well - I'm gone now." - As she said this, she carefully adjusted the collar of the Untergau-giraffe which had become dislodged. "Kathrin told me I could take it to camp. And now it's got a name, too. She's called 'Nurmi' because she has such long legs and certainly can run really well." Shorty breathed a sigh of relief again. Then all the worries of a big sister were forgotten and she was just Jungmaedel Shorty, on her way to camp.

Inge traded places with a girl with light colored hair and freckles that neither of them knew. "I know something great," she then said. "We are taking a dog to camp with us. He belongs to Kathrin. He's called 'Tramp'. I don't know what kind of dog it is, but he is big and probably really strong. But Kathrin said, he won't harm us. He was wearing a muzzle on the platform. He probably really doesn't like it because his ears were hanging down and he had his tail between his legs." - "A dog?" Irm beamed. "That's the best thing about the whole camp," she said certainly. "Will Kathrin let us feed him and play with him? My uncle Helmut also has a dog but nobody is allowed to play with it. He said, that ruins the character. I wonder if Kathrin is the same way about her dog?"

"Of course not," Inge said. "Or else she wouldn't have brought him along." - "Hm!" - That made sense. There was little else to say about a dog nobody knew yet. Inge blinked her eyes and yawned. "It's hot," she said.

That was true, of course, but Irm thought it wasn't worth answering. Inge pulled her harmonica from her pocket and started to play a song about an old woman who went to shake nuts from a tree, from young sparrows, from a little tree nobody could climb, and many more. Shorty had curled up in her corner and was sleeping with her mouth open. The other four were playing "I spy with my little eye" but Irm wasn't in the mood to join them.

She suddenly realized that she was very tired. Outside the window, telegraph poles whooshed past, a bit of forest, a signalman's house. And lots and lots of the same, flat, green land with the burning sun above in. Inside the compartment, the strap of Inge's tornister kept clanging against the luggage rack in even intervals. Suddenly it was no longer the strap but the paddle of a boat on a large lake. How it glittered when the drops fell from the paddles!

Irm startled. How could she fall asleep on her first journey! She sat up and looked out of the window again. Still more of the same. "Terrem - tem - tem! Terem - tem - tem" went the wheels. Irm heard it very clearly, "To Heidersdorf, to Heidersdorf." If ... if all trains said so? Then Irm really fell asleep...

She only awoke when someone took her by the shoulders and called: "Wake up, you log, we're almost there!" Dozily she looked around. The others were digging around in their packs and Shorty was ready to go already, giraffe 'Nurmi' underneath her arm.

Hissing, the train came to a stop in front of a small station. "Heidersdorf" stood on a white sign in the center of the platform. One could climb outside and stretch thoroughly. Kathrin was already standing outside. Next to her was the dog, Tramp, who no longer needed his muzzle and in joy kept trying to catch his own tail. Kathrin blew into her whistle twice: "Give me a perfect three-row formation and sing nice and loud, or the farmers are going to laugh about our Berlin Jungmaedel on the first day already!"

Of course, to pull oneself together was a matter of honor. First they went along a bit of the country road, then came small farms, a village pond, the school, and the church. All the way on the other side lay the youth hostel. They had to walk along a farm track so narrow that the three-row formation no longer had space.

There they were, the fields that stretched into the sky. They smelled of fresh bred when the wind ruffled them. And behind the youth hostel was the forest. A fine mist lay between its tree trunks. One might see rabbits and deer, and maybe even a big buck. Everyone had looked forward to this for so long, and now everything was here, and would belong to the Berlin Jungmaedel - for a whole three weeks!