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SHARKHUNTERS International
Berlin Patrol 2012
Thursday 6 September

 

This day begins as they all have so far - beautiful weather, blue skies and after our breakfast at the nearby bakery we shop for snacks at this nearby market.

Having full tummies and great weather, we head out for more history - the Berlin Wall!  Anyone who lived in those times in any country remembers the Berlin Wall; they remember the many people who escaped by driving madly through checkpoints - until the DDR put huge concrete blocks to prevent this; those who tunneled under the wall - until the DDR installed special listening devices to hear the sounds of digging.  We remember also the many who tried to dash across "No Man's Land" only to find that the soft sand slowed them down until they were caught in the blinding glare of the floodlights and usually that was their last memory as their lives ended there in the sand with a burst of gunfire.  They weren't supposed to flee "The Worker's Paradise in the East".

     
 
This section of the wall has been removed and
we can see the rebar reinforcing rods
  Crossing the street for a better look
     
 
One of the dreaded lookout towers   Some of the group gets a closer look
Note the tall black structure in the background
     
 

That tall black structure in the photo above is an aerial viewing place and we are now high above the old Berlin Wall with a good view of the area.

The Soviet Union stated that this wall was necessary to protect their people from the expected American attack with tank battalions.  The West claimed that the wall was to prevent any workers from leaving the 'Worker's Paradise in the East'.

........everyone has their opinion, but one must wonder why were all the people trying to break OUT of the East into the West and nobody tried to break INTO the East from the West?

     
 


We are now off to the 1936 Olympic Stadium and the Olympic Village.  There is a tremendous amount of history here.  Everyone knows that Jesse Owens won a lot of gold and was a track star, but there was more.  This was the first time that the Olympic Games had been elevated to such a huge event on the world stage - the first Olympic Games that were such an immense spectacle, and this was during Hitler's time.  This was the first Olympic Games that were so well recorded on film, and that was done under the direction of our Sharkhunters Member LENI RIEFENSTAHL (3157-1993), a beautiful and talented actress and an incredible film director (photo below left).  Sharkhunters is proud to offer many of the films either starring LENI or produced by her.  CLICK ON THE PHOTO OF LENI for her complete history with Sharkhunters and to see clips of her films.

 

It was also here that history took a hand in the history of the United States.  The beautiful woman in the photo above right is Danish beauty Inga Arvad.  She was the 24 year old mistress of Swedish industrialist Axel Wenner-Gren, the wealthiest man in the world at the time.  He owned five million acres of his homeland, owned the Bofors Armament Company, founded the Electrolux Vacuum Cleaner Company, owned what is now Paradise Island by Nassau in the Bahamas and had a rather shady reputation for espionage for the Reich in the Western world.  His mistress, Inga Arvad, was the companion of Adolf Hitler at the 1936 Olympic Games.
     Later, when she was 28 years of age, she came to the United States as a reporter and befriended a daughter of Joseph Kennedy - and then met U.S. Navy Lieutenant John F. Kennedy, then in Naval Intelligence.  They were immediately attracted to each other and created headlines and scandal across Washington DC.  J. Edgar Hoover, head of the F.B.I., hated the Kennedy family and so had JFK and Inga followed all over Washington and even planted microphones in their hotel rooms.  Hoover wanted JFK kicked out of the Navy.  That wasn't easy, as Ambassador Joseph Kennedy was still friends with Roosevelt and that prevented any thoughts of JFK being kicked out of the Navy but the father didn't want his 24 year old son tangled up with this 28 year old non-Catholic divorced woman who, it was thought, was a Nazi spy.  So between Joseph Kennedy and Franklin Roosevelt, young John F. Kennedy was shipped to the Pacific and became a PT boat commander.


The 1936 Olympic Games had a profound effect on world history.  Okay, let's head for the Olympic Stadium.

 
.....and here it is - massive in its size   The twin pylons are at one end
    and the triple pylons at the other

Plenty of statuary here.  Question - if Yankee Stadium is called
"The House that (Babe) Ruth Built"
then is it correct to call this stadium
"The House that Hitler Built"?
 
     
 
Who walked through these gates 76 years ago?   Who walked down these corridors in 1936?

Sharkhunters groups are always

 

walking in the footsteps of history

     
  Who walked along these corridors?

How many thousands crowded in here
for the games?

Walk with us in the halls of history!
If only these walls could talk.........    
     
 

Above and below - memories

 

of lost Legions

 
     
 

Then we climbed the bell tower.....

 

..MAN, is it a long way up!

     
 

The view from the entrance hall............

 

..........and the view from the bell tower

     
 

Those are very large busses below us and cars out on the grass; they look even smaller than toys.  We sure are a long way up in the sky.

Okay, it is time to come down to Terra Firma and we head for the 1936 Olympic Village including the Jesse Owens Haus.


On our way to the Olympic Village, we pass more evidence of history disappearing right before our eyes.

 
     
 

Is this due to lack of interest?  Lack of money?  Or is it to deliberately wipe out all traces of the Third Reich?  We do not have that answer...........so we go on to the Olympic Village.  Join us.
 

  This overview will help you follow along with us in the Olympic Village

1.  Entrance
2.  Ticket booth
3.  Sports area (track and field events)
4.  Swimming pool building
5.  Showers and toilet buildings
6.  Jesse Owens House
7.  International diving hall
8.  Bastion

Let's go - our guide is waiting.
     
 
CHARLIE ELLIS (7324-LIFE-2008) and our guide   Overview of the Olympic Village
An Olympic Medal of the 1936 games

This area was taken over by the Soviets after the end of
World War Two and the results were predictable
 
     
 
An old 'saddle horse' left over from the gymnastic competition   Once this was a small lake with recreation.....
     
 
     

Both above and one to the right - these buildings were built on the grounds during the Soviet years to house Soviet officers.  When the Soviet Union evaporated in December 1991 and all troops removed from Germany back to Russia, everything that was not nailed down and even some of that which was nailed down, was removed and taken to Russia.

Do you notice anything different with these buildings unlike other abandoned buildings in Germany?  The windows are not smashed out by vandals - they were removed, glass, frames, mounts and all, and brought back to Russia.

 
     
 
The Commandant's House is deserted   Once this was an underpass beneath another road.  Today it
is a dismal mini-swamp, flooded and clogged with debris
     
 

The Hindenburghaus was the central community center, but like

 

so much in Germany, it is falling into ruin

     
 
The soldiers have disappeared; soon the
buildings then the history will disappear
  We were allowed only in this central meeting room because,
as we were told, the rest of the building isn't safe
     
 

AHA!  HARRY COOPER (1-LIFE-1983) spots a hallway and wonders what can be down this hallway that is blocked by a rope barrier.  He waits until the guide is looking in another direction, goes over the rope and quickly down the hallway.

This is a walk back into time, but it is a sad voyage as everything is being allowed to crumble.  Maybe there is no money to care for these historic buildings and lands - maybe this history is intended to disappear.  Either way, it brings tears to the eyes to see such beautiful buildings, filled with so much history, being allowed to crumble almost as we watch.

     
 
.....and a staircase.  What can be up here?   More history falling to ruin
     
 

.....hallways falling into ruin leading to

 

more rooms falling into ruin

     
 
Another staircase - where does this lead?   It leads up to the attic
     

Oh - oh!  The guide has noticed that the group is short by one guy and COOPER can hear him yelling from the main room far below.  He is getting impatient, blowing a whistle so COOPER heads back almost at a run, but not all hallways and stairways lead back to the central meeting room.  The building is like a maze!  Five minutes elapse before he arrives at the central meeting room where the guide is yelling at him, partly in German and partly in English.

"I was looking for the toilet." COOPER said.

"There is no toilet in this building!  Let's go." from the guide.

 


On we go to the International Dining Hall

 
Once the Russian Cafe stood here   The International Dining Hall once looked like this
     
 
Once athletes from around the world gathered here   The veranda of the International Dining Hall
 
     
 

The athletes are gone now - gone from Berlin and for the most part,

 

have passed on.  Only their memories remain here

     
 

In the courtyard of the International Dining Hall, where thousands of

 

athletes & hundreds of chefs from around the world took their meals

         
 

The chefs of forgotten times (photo left) appear to be looking for their athletes.  They won't find them - history has moved on and in doing so, has left this Olympic Village abandoned and with little hope of ever coming back to life.

In one part of the International Dining Hall (photo right), the Italian dining tables have been recreated for the occasional visitor.  A large Italian Flag drapes the wall to the right.  Alcoholic beverages were not allowed in the Olympic Village - but the Italians received special permission to drink wine with their meals.

 

 

We now head for the actual barracks-like buildings where the athletes lived.

 
Welcome to the Jesse Owens House   The houses for the Olympic athletes were comfortable but Spartan
     
 

Off the central hallway there were several

 

rooms - all plain, for two athletes

     
 

At the end of the building there was a lounge area and.........

 

.....we told you the buildings were Spartan


We toured this beautifully restored Jesse Owens House............but this is NOT the house where he lived during the 1936 Olympics.  Below is the actual house in which Jesse Owens lived.

 

It would appear that at least a coat of paint is needed here.............and a bunch more.  Our guide asked if any wealthy Americans would like to donate a few hundred thousand to renovate the house Jesse Owens really lived in.  We asked for a reason that anyone should and aside from patriotism, he could think of no reason.  We went on to the swimming hall for a short visit, then back to the hotel.  This has been a long and eventful day and we are tired - and tomorrow is filled with more history.  Join us in the tunnels of time.

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