Dilapidated villa built for former Chancellor Konrad Adenauer sold | News | DW | 22.01.2019
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Dilapidated villa built for former Chancellor Konrad Adenauer sold

It was one of the major corruption scandals of 1950s West Germany. Now, a never-completed luxury villa meant for Chancellor Konrad Adenauer has a new owner — who paid less than the cost of buying a one-room apartment.

After inheriting a piece of postwar German history last year, L. Ilse Thurner has sold a never-completed weekend and hunting lodge designed for former West German Chancellor Konrad Adenauer. Although no final sale price has been made public, Ms. Thurner said that the purchaser had paid an amount slightly higher than the last bid published on eBay, which was €35,000 ($39,850). 

The 600-square-meter (6,500-square-foot) villa, nestled on a 2,000 square meter parcel in North Rhine-Westphalia's picturesque Eifel region, was never finished after Adenauer got wind of the project and refused to accept it as a gift from his close friend, business magnate Friedrich Spennrath.

Although it was never proven for certain, it is thought that Adenauer stepped away from the project when media reports surfaced pointing to the cozy relationship the politician had with Spennrath. He was likely eager to avoid negative press and the label of being a "servant of industry barons."

Read more: West Germany's first chancellor and more: Who was Konrad Adenauer?

'Smelled too much of corruption'

When Spennrath applied for a building permit on July 11, 1955 — it was granted just 12 days later — he was the president of Germany's Chamber of Industry and Commerce as well as the chairman of the board of directors at the German electricity giant AEG. Adenauer's son Konrad was employed by AEG after completing university.

Further complicating the matter was the fact that Adenauer's son-in-law was among the architects hired to build the villa. When the project's lead architect confessed that the villa was not for Spennrath but in fact meant as a gift to Adenauer, the project was stopped in early 1956, despite being well underway.

Local media reported that "the expensive gift smelled too much of corruption for the old man."  

The villa, which fell into disrepair after construction was halted, was rumored to have included a bomb shelter in the basement and a helicopter landing pad on the roof, though architect Roland Thelen, who has researched the history of the project and has blueprints of it, says that was not the case.

On Wednesday, the German press agency dpa reported that the villa had been sold. Though the buyer wished to remain anonymous, Thurner said, "he is a big Adenauer fan." It is not known what the new owner plans to do with the site.

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