Olympic Village Berlin

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The 1936 Olympic village Berlin is located on the western edge of Berlin. The site, which is 30 kilometres (19 mi) from the centre of the city, consisted of one and two-floor dormitories, a large dining hall, Dining Hall of the Nations, a swimming facility, gymnasium, track, and other training facilities. Its layout was designed and construction overseen by appointed village commander Hauptmann Wolfgang Fürstner beginning in 1934. Less than two months before the start of the Olympic Games, Fürstner was abruptly demoted to vice-commander, and replaced by Oberstleutnant Werner von Gilsa, commander of the Berlin Guard-Regiment. The official reason for the replacement was that Fürstner had not acted “with the necessary energy” to prevent damage to the site as 370,000 visitors passed through it between 1 May and 15 June. However, this was just a cover story to explain the sudden demotion of the half-Jewish officer. The 1935 Nuremberg Laws, passed during the period Fürstner was overseeing the Olympic Village, had classified him as a Jew, and as such, the career officer was to be expelled from the Wehrmacht. Two days after the conclusion of the Berlin Olympics, vice-commander Fürstner had been removed from active Wehrmacht duty, and committed suicide because he realised he had no future under the Nazis.

After the completion of the Olympic Games, the Olympic village Berlin was repurposed for the Wehrmacht into the Olympic Döberitz Hospital (German: Olympia-Lazarett Döberitz), and Army Infantry School (German: Heeres-Infanterieschule), and was used as such through the Second World War. In 1945 it was taken over by the Soviet Union and became a military camp of the union occupation forces. Late 20th century efforts were made to restore parts of the former village, but little progress was made. More recently, the vast majority of the land of the Olympic village has been managed by the DKB Foundation, with more success; efforts are being made to restore the site into a living museum. The dormitory building used by Jesse Owens, Weissen House, has been fully restored, with the gymnasium and swimming hall partially restored. Seasonally, tours are given daily to small groups and students.

The site remains relatively unknown even in Germany, but some tournaments are held at the site in an effort to boost knowledge of the venues. An effort aimed at 2018 completion is underway to make the village a mixed residential and historical property.

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