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Visiting a Nazi School

DW staff / dpa (kjb)
December 16, 2006

The Nazis used the space for a political and military training facility. Soon tourists will be able to spend their vacation there. Much of the architecture has already been landmarked.

The "Vogelsang" Nazi facility was opened to the public earlier this yearImage: dpa - Bildfunk

The state government in North Rhine-Westphalia decided this week to back the development of the former Nazi elite school "Vogelsang" into a significant tourist destination.

Located in the Eifel region in northwestern Germany, the location is to offer exhibitions, gastronomy, educational facilities and a tourist information center.

The state and the federal government, which owns the property, are expected to work out the financial details by March 2007, said a spokesperson from the state ministry of finance. Private investors are also being sought to help cover the 20 million euro ($26.4 million) price tag.

Controversial decision

Nationalpark Eifel
The Eifel, rich in natural beauty, is already a popular vacation destinationImage: Nationalparkforstamt Eifel

Not all of the state officials agreed with the decision to transform the former Nazi school into a tourist attraction.

"The national park center is not an amusement park," said Reiner Priggen, chairman of the Green Party in North Rhine-Westphalia. "Big hotels and vacation facilities would compete with tourism in the surrounding communities, which should be supported and not threatened."

Many have already visited

During the Third Reich, the Nazis built three such elite educational centers. The "Vogelsang" facility was first used for political and military training before it was taken over by the "Wehrmacht," the Nazi army, in 1939.

After World War II, the 70,000 square-meter (753,474 square-foot) national park was put to use as a training ground for the Belgian military, but abandoned in October 2005.

Since it was opened to the public in early 2006, some 160,000 tourists have already visited the site -- in particular to view the architecture, which is considered to be exemplary of national socialist style and much of which is under monument protection.

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