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In this vast wooded area of the Eiffel, on a mountain slope above the Urfttal dam, the first phase of “Ordensburg” (Fortress) Vogelsang was built between 1934 and 1936. Based on a speech by Adolf Hitler, who demanded that new schools should be built for the children of the leaders of his national socialist German labour party (NSDAP), the complex was to be a modern training institution for young party members or “Junkers”.
Reichsorganisationsleiter (Eng: Reichs Organisation Leader) Robert Ley was given the task of constructing these so called “schools”. Apart from NS-Ordensburg Vogelsang, two more complexes were built; NS-Ordensburg Crössinsee and NS-Ordensburg Sonthofen.
Vogelsang was built by the workers of the “German Labour Front” (DAF) and financed using the assets seized from the German Labor Unions when they were dispossessed in 1933 as well as other financial means. Ley appointed Clemens Klotz, a party friend from Cologne, as the architect. Klotz was also in charge of planning for the Crössinsee “Ordensburg” in Pomerania (now Poland) and the DAF holiday complex in Prora on the island of Rügen, which was never completed. The Vogelsang complex was to be a symbol of the rule of state and party over nature and great trouble was taken to create a reliëf effect on the hillside where it is located.
Opening Ordensburg Vogelsang
Formally opened on April 1936, the first 500 “Junkers” coming from all over Germany started their intensive education as future leaders at Vogelsang. They had to follow a special national socialist educational program combined with a lot of physical (military) excercise. Instruction at Vogelsang ended when Germany attacked Poland on 1st September 1939 and the students all signed up for war service.
After all the Junkers had left, Vogelsang was used among other things, by the German Wehrmacht as a training grounds and for billeting troops during the Western campaign into France and later in December 1944 during the Ardennes offensive.
Even though some buildings had been damaged in Allied air raids, the Vogelsang complex fell into Allied hands almost intact on Februari 1945 during their advance. After the war had ended Vogelsang kept it’s military purpose, first as a British training area, then taken over by the Belgian army, which restored damaged buildings and expanded the complex even further. Vogelsang became a NATO traing ground and also housed units of the German Bundeswher.
At the end of the Cold War, Vogelsang finally lost it’s military purpose and is now open to the public since the 1st of Januari 2006. In 2013 Vogelsang was heavily renovated and a large exhibition center was constructed. In 2015 it was announced that Vogelsang will become a refugee center.
Visit Ordensburg Vogelsang
NS Ordensburg Vogelsang is one of the largest completely preserved architectural sites of the Third Reich, so it is very unique. The complex grounds is very large (50.000m2) so prepare yourself for a lot of walking. Especially because the different buildings are situated widely apart, so if you are on a tight schedule, take your car! You can drive easily from complex to complex, with lots of parking space everywhere to get out and explore. Most significant is the “Community House” situated at the top of the slope, with a view on the “Thingplatz”and the sports facilities. The visitors centre is located in the west wing next to the tower. It has a shop, a small but interesting exhibition and also a bistro to relax and have some coffee and a muffin.
As stated earlier, we read the announcement that in 2015 the Vogelsang complex will be used to accommodate refugees. It is unclear if the grounds will stay open for visitors or which part of the complex, if not all, will be turned into a refugee center.
For more information about the complex and opening hours visit www.vogelsang-ip.de
Watch the complete set of photo’s here