Simultaneously with the construction of the stadium complex, the construction of the Olympic village began. The design was also done by the brothers Werner and Walter March. Furthermore, the architect Dr. H.C.Steinmetz was part of the team, who died shortly after the completion of the village and stadium. The 'Landschaftsgestaltung' (landscaping) was done by Heinrich Wiepking-Jürgensman.
When the village was finished, it was opened to the public. From May 1 to June 15, 1936, approximately 370.000 people were able to admire the village. On June 10 the village was ceremonially handed over from the Wehrmacht to the IOC. The official opening with Hitler's visit to the village was on 17 June. Three days later the first guests arrived; Japanese marathon runners.
The history of the Olympic village phenomenon actually does not go that far back. It first happend for the 1932 games in Los Angeles, when small wooden huts were constructed. Nowadays nothing is left of that village, it was demolished immediately after the games. It was the inspiration for Germany to do it bigger and better. In 1932 there were 1.300 participants from 37 countries, in 1936 there would be 3.963 from 49 countries. In order to accommodate the athletes, a large-scale logistics and housing operation was required.
In fact, in 1936 people in Berlin did the same thing they do today; build as much as possible with the prospect of a later use in mind. Anyone who sees the photos of the many abandoned and unused Olympic stadiums worldwide knows that things don't always work out that way, and billions have been wasted on the construction of what will later be useless buildings.
The Olympic villages of the last decades are often buildings that were built for the games, but are arranged in such a way that they turn into a normal residential area or apartment towers after some adjustments. That was, for example, the case in London, 2012, where the East Village residential area, designed for the games with 17.320 beds for 10,000 athletes and officials, could be easily adjusted after the games to create 2,818 homes. A good example of how costs can be reduced.
Initially, it was foreseen from a financial point of view to house the athletes in barracks for the 22.Flak Regiment, nowadays apartments, and the southern Löwen-Adler barracks in Döberitz. When more money became available, it was decided to build a completely new village. After the games, it would be a great new barracks complex and hospital. There is not much difference in accommodating athletes or accommodating soldiers. That is why the design immediately took into account the reuse of the buildings. In addition, the village was also in a military training area, the Döberitzer Heide, with several barracks and training grounds a stone's throw away.
The village is a unique location in many ways. German history becomes visible there. What happened to Germany on a large scale, happened on a small scale in the village.
It is the only place I know where on the same wall in the Hindenburghaus you see marching Wehrmacht soldiers in stone relief, and on the other side of the same wall a drawing by Lenin. This clearly reflects the irony of German history, from pompous display of power at the time of the Wehrmacht to occupation by an enemy regime. And then precisely by one of the countries that was attacked by the Wehrmacht and also caused the fall of the Third Reich. Moreover; the Russians did not participate in the 1936 Olympic Games. They entered for the first time in 1952.
Above: Drawing from the Olympiazeitung number 7, 27 juli 1936
Above: Döberitz-Elsgrund, Kaserne Flak.Rgt. 22. When it turned out that there were too few accommodations, the neighboring Luftwaffe barracks were quickly refurbished and made suitable for athletes and the Nord-Deutsche Lloyd employees working in the restaurant of the village.
1.180 athletes from Japan, Hungary, Brazil, Poland, Denmark, Czechoslovakia, Romania and Germany found a temporarily home there.
Below: postcard, with the entrance building at front.