Posted by Ahem on July 08, 2001 at 00:53:54:
Fancy a spot of golf at the Alpine lair where the Fuehrer planned the invasion of Poland? Or tennis, perhaps, where Eva Braun and the Goerings called for tea? Then it could be for you.
Construction work starts on Friday to turn what was once the high temple of the Nazi party at play -- around Hitler's Eagle's Nest retreat at Berchtesgaden -- into a four-star resort for well-heeled tourists.
Needless to say, it has not been without controversy, with Jewish leaders attacking the scheme as insensitive.
Local politicians and business leaders in Bavaria argue that the 140-bed resort will be a shot in the arm for tourism in the picture-postcard Obersalzberg district on the mountain frontier with the Fuehrer's native Austria.
The plans follow the withdrawal in 1995 of the U.S. military, which had used the area as a recreation facility for decades.
"We haven't got a hotel of this size and are hoping above all that foreign visitors come," said Ernst Wittmann, the head of the local tourist board at Berchtesgaden.
But the Central Council of Jews in Germany has expressed deep reservations about the $30 million project.
"The use of the site as a hotel masks the historical reality of the Obersalzberg," said deputy leader Michel Friedman.
"Such places should be preserved and not used for a completely different purpose -- so that the younger generation can learn at the places where things happened."
Building the complex, expected to take three years, will be financed by a unit of Bavaria's state-owned Bayerische Landesbank and managed as an Inter-Continental hotel by the British-based Bass Plc.
The hotel building itself will sit precisely on the site of the holiday home owned by Reichsmarschall Hermann Goering, head of the Luftwaffe. Most of the villas in the area were destroyed by British RAF bombing in the final days of World War Two.
Close by lies the site of the Berghof, Hitler's own private retreat sitting over 1,800 meters (6,000 feet) above sea level.
Here he met British Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain on September 15, 1938 as part of negotiations that ended two weeks later with Britain and France consigning Czechoslovakia to Nazi domination in return for peace at a conference in nearby Munich.
Hitler had written much of the second part of his manifesto, Mein Kampf, in Obersalzberg in the late 1920s, laying out his justifications for war and what would become the Holocaust.
Here, too, much of the planning was done for the blitzkrieg against Poland in 1939. Berchtesgaden became both a holiday retreat and a second headquarters for the Nazi war machine.
Color film of a smiling Hitler relaxing at the Eagle's Nest with his dogs and mistress Eva Braun, accompanied by his closest aides, is part of the collective memory of the Third Reich.
In its heyday, it attracted so many pilgrims eager to catch a glimpse of the Fuehrer from all over the Reich that later only organized tours and state guests were allowed near.
The local tourism industry around Berchtesgaden, which is also a popular ski destination in the winter, has high hopes for that the plush new hotel can bring in business and is confident it can prevent it becoming a shrine for neo-Nazi sympathizers.
The hotel operators will be contractually bound not to allow any Nazi-related activities on the site.
An official museum and documentation center has already been built on the site and attracts 120,000 visitors annually.
A spokesman for the Berchtesgaden district council, Josef Rinot, defended the plans by emphasizing the long history of the site as a resort long before Hitler set foot there.
"Hitler and his followers drove out the previous owners," he said. "It doesn't make sense not to use the Obersalzberg at all just because of 12 years of Nazi rule."