Geoff Walden

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Ordensburg Vogelsang

   In 1934 work began on three construction projects to build "Order Castles" or "School Castles" where the future leadership of the Nazi Party would be trained. These projects were under the direction of Dr. Robert Ley, head of the Deutsche Arbeitsfront (Labor Front). These Ordensburgen were built at Sonthofen in the Allgäu (Bavaria), Crössinsee in Pomerania (now in Poland), and Vogelsang in the Eifel (North Rhein - Westfalia).

   The Vogelsang Ordensburg was designed by architect Clemens Klotz, built on a hillside overlooking a large lake valley. The school was completed in 1936 and the first class of "Junker" (cadets) began training immediately. The overall project as planned was never completed, with a large "House of Knowledge" hall, a 2000-bed hotel, and other buildings being omitted. During World War II the site was used for military purposes and to house refugees from bombed German cities. The U.S. Army overran the area in February 1945 and briefly occupied Vogelsang, before turning it over to the British military. In 1950 Vogelsang and the adjacent military training area were turned over to the Belgian Army, who controlled the area until 1 January 2006. Since then the Ordensburg Vogelsang has been open to the public.

(MapQuest Map Link to Vogelsang)

 

Two distant views of Vogelsang, showing how the site was built down the hillside toward the lake valley below.  (Gerdy Troost, "Das Bauen im neuen Reich," Vol. 1, Bayreuth, 1938)

 

Entrance to the site was through an enclosed building complex. The period photo was taken before the columns were added to the entrance (1939), and the flanking buildings with the towers that are found on the site today. The Reichsadler eagles flanking the entrance have long been removed (see below and here), and the building retains Belgian military insignia today.   ("Bauten der Bewegung," Vol. 1, Berlin, 1938)

 

Where two of the eagles once reposed above their wreathed swastikas (chipped out), and one of the original entryway eagles that is now on display in the Adlerhof.

 

The entry road into the Ordensburg is flanked by two towers bearing relief sculptures of a mounted torch bearer (left) and armored knight with sword (right), both by Willy Meller.

 

The Vogelsang Adlerhof was an open square surrounded by buildings, featuring a stone fountain and two stone eagle statues. The modern view looks different because the building on the eastern side of the square was damaged by bombing in 1944 and never rebuilt.  (period postcard)

 

This photo from February 1945 shows the bombing damage to the main compound.
(U.S. Army Signal Corps Collection, National Archives)

 

The Adlerhof eagles were by sculptor Willy Meller. Along with most of the other Vogelsang stone artworks, these eagles suffered damage after the war, but the remains of one are again on display in the Adlerhof.  (Werner Rittich, "Architektur und Bauplastik der Gegenwart," Berlin, 1938)

 

On the left is an artist's conception of the Burg (castle), tower, and Appellplatz (assembly area), with a similar view today on the right.  (Georg Fritz, "Straßen und Bauten Adolf Hitlers," Berlin, 1939)

 

Looking across the Appellplatz at the Burg and tower. The Burg building adjacent to the tower was originally three stories, but the upper story was not rebuilt when the bombing damage was repaired in the postwar period.  (Werner Rittich, "Architektur und Bauplastik der Gegenwart," Berlin, 1938)

 

A large stone eagle is built into the wall overlooking the Appellplatz.

 

On the left, a view from the tower overlooking some of the cadet barracks. On the right is a view of some of the barracks buildings today. Two of the original barracks buildings were destroyed by bombing and not rebuilt.  ("Illustrierter Beobachter," Special Edition 1937)

 

The sports field was downhill from the barracks area. On the hillside between the barracks level and sports field was a Freilichtbühne which served as a Thingplatz for the cadets (the stage was the semi-circular edifice in the center). 

 

Overlooking the Sportfeld was a relief sculpture "Sportlers" (Sportsmen), crowned by an eagle with swastika. This artwork by Willy Meller suffered greatly during the years of postwar military occupation, the sportsmen and the eagle all losing their heads.  (courtesy Marco Janssen)

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The "Fackelträger" (Torch Bearer) is a detached sculpture by Willy Meller located on the northeast periphery of the site. The inscription originally read "Ihr seid die Fackelträger der Nation - Ihr trägt das Licht des Geistes voran im Kampfe für Adolf Hitler" (You are the torch bearers of the nation - you carry the light of the spirit forward into battle for Adolf Hitler). The blocks containing the words Fackelträger, Adolf Hitler, and the swastika have been replaced. The "Fackelträger" himself also suffered considerable damage during the postwar military occupation. (Meller also designed works for the Berlin Olympic Stadium.)  (Werner Rittich, "Architektur und Bauplastik der Gegenwart," Berlin, 1938)

 

A view of the Vogelsang castle tower.

 

For further information:

"Ordensburg Vogelsang 1934-1945" - www.hans-dieter-arntz.de (German and English)

Lernort Vogelsang - http://www.lernort-vogelsang.de/ (German language)

Serviceagentur Vogelsang - http://www.serviceagentur-vogelsang.de/home.htm (German language)

 

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This page initially uploaded on 20 July 2000.


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