A Nazi-elite training center in the Eifel Hills
The Ordensburg Vogelsang was a training venue for an upcoming Nazi-elite. Young cadets were persuaded they were racially superior and therefore justified to dispose of other, lesser humans. The imposing architecture supposedly demonstrated the power of the ‘Aryan master race’. However, for the Allies who occupied Vogelsang in 1945, it became a symbol of the predominance of democracy over Nazism.
Even though no shot was fired, it counted as a moment of victory over Nazi-Germany: On 4 February 1945 soldiers of the 9th U.S. Infantry Division occupied the Ordensburg Vogelsang without opposition. In the years before the war the huge complex served a prestigious training venue for an upcoming Nazi-elite.
But, as Time Magazine ironically pointed out, “no supermen strutted in Burg Vogelsang”. Though no major destruction took place, the U.S. soldiers could not refrain from emptying their guns on a number of statues and reliefs symbolizing the German master race. Built in the 1930s, the National Socialist Ordensburg Vogelsang was one of the largest construction projects of the ‘Third Reich’. Built in the style of a medieval castle on a spectacular spot overlooking Lake Urft in the Eifel Hills, it was obviously meant to overwhelm people with its architecture: Clearly, Vogelsang was intended to demonstrate power, and it became a stage for the triumphant, showy side of National Socialism. The mission of the place was to raise National Socialist leaders of the future: The young cadets called ‘Junkers’ trained in sports, military drills and a supremacist body of thought, and often participated in political and cultic rituals, Vogelsang gave its cadets a sense of belonging to a new elite, as well as a prospect of power.
With the outbreak of the war all courses were abandoned, Steeped in the ideology of Aryan superiority, hundreds of Vogelsang students and graduates volunteered for military service. Many of them got involved in the administration of occupied Poland, Ukraine, Belarus and the Baltic States and consequently played their part in ethnic cleansing campaigns and other war crimes.
Vogelsang International Place is riddled with Nazi-symbols. Quite a few of them focus on the national socialist idea of a master race, the ‘Herrenmensch’. The most conspicuous symbol is the statue of the torchbearer, that it visible even beyond the perimeter of the Ordensburg. It borrows from Christian and Greek symbolism as well as the pagan idea of light.
The Documentation Center Nazi Party Rally Grounds in Nuremberg, Germany stands on the site of the unfinished Congress Hall of the former Nazi party rallies. The permanent exhibition, ‘Fascination and Terror’, covers 13,000 m² and examines the causes, the context and consequences of the National Socialist regime of terror. The exhibition is supplemented by an educational programme and special exhibitions.
The Vogelsang complex was built as a National Socialist training institution before becoming an international military training area. Today, Vogelsang IP is an international place of active remembrance, where in addition to conveying historical facts about the Nazi era, issues regarding our present social life are addressed.