Hindenburghaus

The 2,229 m2 large Hindenburghaus was the focal point of the ' Geselliges Dorfleben ', the cosy village life. During the games there was a theatre hall, training rooms, spaces for the international sports organizations, medical establishments, hairdressing salons and office spaces with typewriters in all common languages and different alphabets. In the evening one came together to be entertained with cabaret, music, dance, film, ect. On Sundays there were church services.

The Dutch newspaper De Telegraaf of 8 May 1936 wrote: Furthermore there is the Hindenburghaus, which contains a theatre hall, in which during the Games each evening will be film, variety and cabaret, while the wings will be destined for the international hairdressers and foreign doctors . One can not let a Muzelman get shaved by a Berlin Protestant hairdresser, while a sick Japanese will preferably want to be examined by a landsman.

The name of the building was not chosen without reason. Generalfeldmarschall von Hindenburg was from 1925 to 1933 state president and until his death in 1934 patron of the Olympic Games. Two quotations from him can be found on the façade, but these are only vaguely visible nowadays. They read :


Ich Baue Fest auf dich, Deutsche Jugend

 

(I build upon you, German youth)


and


Die Treue ist das Mark der Deutsche Ehre

(Loyalty is the Mark of German Honour)

Above the entrance the Hindenburg family coat of arms could be found, but that has now been covered by planks. On the second floor a large relief is visible in honour of von Hindenburg;  marching Wehrmacht soldiers. The relief was hidden away under a thin layer of cement in the Russian era, but has been made visible again quite recently . Opposite the relief stood a bust of Hindenburg. The design of the relief is by Wilhelm von Ruckteschell, a writer, illustrator and sculptor. He is also known for another work of art which is now controversial and tucked away; The Deutsch Ostafrika Ehrenmal in Hamburg. This is a reminder of the German colonial time, unfortunatly also a period of a lot of bloodshed.


It is the only place I know of where you can see on the same wall on one side marching Wehrmacht soldiers in stone relief, and on the other side of the wall a drawing of Lenin. This reflects the irony of German history, from pompous power in the 3rd Reich period, to the defeat and following occupation by an enemy regime. And then just by one of the countries that was attacked by the Wehrmacht and also had a very large portion in the fall of the 3rd Reich. Side remark; in 1936 there were no Russians in the village. They did not participate in the Olympic Games. Their first appearance was in 1952 in Helsinki.

There also was a room with a then sensational and new invention: Television! There was a Fernsehstube, a room where one could watch television. In 2019 we watch TV everywhere, from our bedroom to the mobile phone on the train. In 1936, this was still a very distant future. The Olympic Games were broadcasted almost live, as one of the first events that one could follow live on television. It was in black and white and on small screens, but it was a remarkable novelty. In those years the radio was just emerging as a mass medium. TV broadcasts were rare, and could only be seen in specially equipped rooms (Fernsehstube), which were found in several cities. In the Olympic village the athletes who at that time had the opportunity in the Hindenburghaus could follow the games almost live. (there was a delay of a few minutes)  For most of them this would be the first time in their life to see something that would be so important in later years. (and now already is losing it's importance.)