Monday, August 8, 2016

Inside the abandoned Nazi Olympic village of Berlin

The 1936 Berlin Olympics hosted in Nazi Germany was home to the first permanent Olympic village in history, which today is the oldest one to be partially still standing.

Built in Wustermarkin the west edge of Berlin, the Olympic village hosted about 4,000 athletes from all over the world, guarded by men in Nazi uniforms. The athletes were impressed by the village, as each house had its own steward and there had never been a swimming pool before at an Olympic village.

Inside the "Restaurant of the Nations", the main eating hall, the athletes consumed 100 cows, 91 pigs, over 650 lambs, 8,000lb of coffee, 150,000lb of vegetables and 160,000 pints of milk during the 3 weeks of the Games. However, no alcohol was not served as Hitler himself was a teetotaler.

After the Olympics, the Olympic village became a hospital during World War II and with the fall of Nazi Germany it was captured by Soviet troops. The Soviets used it as a base for SMERSH torturers and KGB interrogators. Inside the main amphitheater a drawing of Russian revolutionary leader Vladimir Lenin overlooks the room where functions and cultural shows were held.

When the Soviets forces abandoned it in 1992, only 25 of the 145 original buildings of the Olympic village were still standing - including the crumbling swimming pool, gym, theater and dining hall. For the next 20 years the village fell in disrepair with most Germans ignoring it due to its connection with Nazism.

Its new owner however, DKB Bank, decided to restore it as an exhibition space. One part that was restored first was the original room of black American athlete Jesse Owens -No 5, in block 39- who became the star of the Games when he won 4 gold medals in front of Hitler, a man that considered him inferior because of his color.

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Adolf Hitler entering the Olympic Village for an inspection. The gateway inscription reads, "To the Youth of the World."

Adolf Hitler greets athletes at the Olympic village

Rudolf Hess tours the village

The dining hall, known as Restaurant of the Nations

The Berlin Olympic Village lake
American athlete Jesse Owens' room has been preserved as part of the restoration project

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