Gone Away: To Germany & Austria – 4: A day out looking for Hitler’s Ghost!
Abracadabra By K. B. Ganapathy, Columns

Gone Away: To Germany & Austria – 4: A day out looking for Hitler’s Ghost!

October 16, 2017

[Continued from Oct. 12]

Our guide Tom, as I mentioned, was a chatter-box, saying, what he thought, was funny or a joke. However, he was smart enough to have not only his say but also his way. We wanted to see Berlin Olympic Stadium, the German Parliament Building and, of course, Hitler’s residence and the bunker not knowing these two have been razed to the ground by the Russians a few years after 1945.

We had already visited the iconic  Brandenburg Gate crowned with the beautiful Quadriga (a chariot drawn by four horses) on top the previous evening on a sort of recce. Therefore, it suited Tom to drive past the monument and we did not mind. However, Tom did not forget to give its history.

German Parliament building.

Quadriga atop the gate portrayed the ‘triumph of peace.’ Peace, however, was stolen away after 12 years of its installation by Napoleon Bonaparte when he invaded Berlin. The victorious Napoleon was so pleased with the beautiful Quadriga he carried it as a war trophy to Paris in 1806. However, this symbol of ‘triumph of peace’ returned to its legitimate owners in 1814 after Napoleon’s defeat in his expansionist  Napoleonic wars.

As we know, Germany became a Republic after World War I. Proclamation of the Republic was to be made at this Gate, but it was not possible as it was damaged in the war. So the Proclamation was made in the nearby Reichstag building (Parliament building). It was built in 1894 a few years before World War I. During the war, in order to enthuse the German people to unitedly fight the war, the dedication “Dem Deutschen Volke” (to the German people) was written in Gothic letters in front above the entrance.

Apparently, this did not work. The Germans lost the World War I and its dome was knocked off in the war and damaged. It was restored with a giant glass dome which is unique and spectacular. Tourists are allowed to climb up to the dome, but need to wait a day, sometimes, to get the required pass or ticket — such rush. One could see people circumambulating up the dome from below or from a distance like ants on the move in a line. (see pic.1)

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Looking at the words engraved at the entrance “Dem Deutschen Volke” I was reminded of our State’s second Chief Minister Kengal Hanumanthaiah, the builder of Vidhana Soudha in Bengaluru. He, in his idealistic fantasy, had got engraved at the front entrance in Kannada, like at the Reichstag in Berlin, ಸರ್ಕಾರದ ಕೆಲಸ ದೇವರ ಕೆಲಸ [Government work is God’s work]. The suggestion was that one should work in this Vidhana Soudha with the belief that it is God’s work one is doing, so don’t be corrupt, work honestly.

Poor Hanumanthaiah went overboard on his ethical mirage and wrote at the other entrance, ಧರ್ಮೋ ರಕ್ಷತಿ ರಕ್ಷಿತ: It means that those who protect the truth (righteousness), truth will protect them. Sadly, the Vidhana Soudha has become the “cesspool of corruption,” to use Amitabh Bachchan’s famous words about politics in India. And the Truth is no longer protecting us as we too are guilty of not protecting the truth.

Pic 2: Adolf Hitler on the VIP stand of the Olympic Stadium during the opening celebrations of the Olympic Games, 1st August 1936.

Our next destination was the Olympic Stadium where the Olympic Games were held in August 1936 when Adolf Hitler was the Dictator-Chancellor. Tom says the whole programme was dominated by military ceremonies, including paying tribute to World War I martyrs at the memorial nearby, by Hitler. Being a past master in propaganda, he used the Olympic Games for the purpose though it smacked of racism. The US and Europe wanted to boycott but failed. It was a beautiful stadium (see pics. 2, 3, 4) which we saw from the Bell Tower of World War I Martyrs Memorial nearby.

Later Tom took us to a Russian Martyrs Memorial to commemorate the martyrdom of many Russian soldiers killed in their final assault on Berlin across the only Bridge that survived Hitler’s scorched-earth policy in April 1945. We visited some other places like Churches and Museums and then it was time for lunch.

Pic. 3: Rear of the Stadium where the entry is.

Tom was by now overbearing. “If you came to Berlin and not visited KaDeWe, you have not really seen Berlin,” he declared and drove us to the massive mall KaDeWe. He wanted to buy stuff for our lunch and took us to a secluded place in a park, passing by a Beer Garden. Smart guy we thought.

Pic. 4: Front view of the Stadium.

We headed to the important tourist sight — “Fuhrer’s Bunker.” Sadly for the tourists this was detonated in December 1947 by Russians. Today all that we see is a notice board by the side of the road with description and details. Both the Chancellery and the Bunker where Hitler married his love and secretary Eva Braun and later committed suicide, were flattened and modern buildings have come up in the place with some open space.

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From the signboard we learnt:

19th of March 1945:

From the Bunker Hitler issued the Nero order, the destruction of the very means of existence of the civilian population. With this pointless order, Hitler displayed his contempt for his supposed “Beloved  Germany.”

20th of March 1945:

In the garden of the Reichs Chancellery about 50 “men” assembled, a mixed bag of Hitler youth and members of the SS division “Frundsberg,” who in their desperation had attacked approaching Soviet tanks. In the presence of cameramen and photographers from the Wochenschau News, who documented the “Fuhrer’s last public appearance.” Hitler awarded these men with the Iron Cross for their heroic deeds in the securing of the defence of Berlin. Afterwards  Hitler descended the steps into the Bunker. Wrongly the event was dated for a long time as April 20th, 1945.

20th of April 1945:

Hitler “celebrated” his 56th birthday at the Bunker. For the annual reception, the most important National Socialist functionaries of the severely shrunken Reich gathered to congratulate their “Fuhrer.”

30th of April 1945:

During afternoon, Hitler and his wife Eva (born Braun), who had married not long before in the bunker, committed suicide. Their bodies were then burned in the garden in front of the bunker entrance. The Goebbel’s children died at the hand of their mother shortly afterwards. As the next day began, Joseph Goebbels (the propaganda Minister, recently named Chancellor) and his wife also killed themselves. With that, WW 2 in Europe, with its over 55 million dead, basically came to its end.

Hitler celebrated his 56th birthday on 20th April 1945 and committed suicide on 30th April 1945 along with his just married wife Eva Braun.

[To be continued]

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ONE COMMENT ON THIS POST To “Gone Away: To Germany & Austria – 4: A day out looking for Hitler’s Ghost!”

  1. theskywalker says:

    Berlin is best seen by foot and through the excellent public transport network-the chain city buses ( the bus train) and the U-Bahn , the metro. Berlin became the capital of Germany again in early 1990s only ( before then Bonn was the capital of West Germany) after the Germany reunification. The parliament building shown in the photo ( the Reichstag) was hesitatingly ( because of its notoriety attached during Hitler period), and in one way, the glass dome designed by the British architect Norman Foster, helped to an extent dampen the notoriety of this building. Hitler’s bunker was in tact even in early 1990, buried under that park in front Reichstag, and only later it was, demolished to prevent from using it as Hitler shrine by neo Nazis who are in numbers in Germany. If one is really interested in Hitler, one should travel to Munich, the Bavarian city, about 300 miles from Berlin, by excellent and cheap coach travel or by the excellent S-Bahn trains. One can see the vast expanse and richness of Germany. Munich was =where Hitler planned to take over the country,and the Gestapo, he used , still has its old headquarter building. Ofcourse, it is where the famous Nuremberg trail was held to sentence Hitler’s Nazi cabal.
    Visitors often do not visit the Tiergarten , where Hitler’s airport was located and which was until recently was used for travels within Germany. As a contrast, one should also see the Berlin Shoenefeld airport, the new airport, still under construction ( here one could witness the rare Geramn inefficiency, as the money spent was many tens of multiples of planned budget, and it is still not fully complete after many years), and the Berlin’s new central railway station, the most modern and the biggest railway station in Europe. It is a joy to use this station and travel by high speed trains to all parts Germany at a low cost. But Indian visitors, who are awed by Mercedes cars , and wedded to car culture,do not appreciate the excellent public transport system in Berlin and Germany.
    No use in talking about Kengal’s Vidhan Soudha, through which he was able to get away with, shall we way, helping his contractor friends and some will even say, helping with himself. I still remember what a white wash the enquiry related to this was. That was the start of slippery slope to corruption from mid-1950s in the then Mysore state. German system operates with honesty, and Germans buy tickets while travelling in their transport system, and do not cheat on fares.


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