Nazi SS chief Heinrich Himmler’s Bavarian lakeside villa transformed into hotel

Himmler used the luxurious villa as a holiday home and a place to meet with fellow senior Nazis


Heinrich Himmler’s Bavarian lakeside villa has been turned into a hotel and restaurant which its owner wants to turn into a centre of peace and inclusion, possibly with Jews on the management board.

Himmler, head of the SS and chief architect of the Holocaust, used the luxurious villa, acquired in 1934, beside the picturesque Tegernsee Lake as a holiday home and meeting place for fellow senior Nazis. He had extensive building work carried out, including the installation of an air raid shelter.

The property, 30 miles south of Munich, was recently converted into a “Blyb”, a combined hotel/ restaurant.

Owner Florian Zibert wants it to be a centre of peace, tolerance and inclusion.

But a Jewish community leader criticised the development. Sacha Stawski, chairman of the German-Israeli Congress, said the building should have been turned into a memorial or museum educating the public about Himmler’s atrocities.

Zibert told the JC he would like to involve a wide range of people in deciding the future of the building.

“Eventually we would like to form a kind of advisory board made up of people from the Jewish community, people of colour, people from very different backgrounds, people who live here and elsewhere,” he said. "It may be that no one from the Jewish community would like to be involved, given how sensitive all this, and I can respect that.

“I can also totally understand that for some people it feels inappropriate and insensitive that we are now running a hotel and restaurant at a place where Heinrich Himmler once lived.”

The building dates back to 1892, and sits in a 20,000-sq m piece of land. After 1933, when Hitler seized power, the region around the Tegernsee valley became a popular resort for high-ranking Nazis, including propaganda minister Joseph Goebbels, Hitler’s private secretary Martin Bormann, and other influential figures.

“We were not even looking for a building we could use as a hotel, and we were certainly not looking for a building which Himmler had bought for him and his wife and daughter. Not at all. This lease was actually offered to us by the Bavarian state, and we did not enter into it lightly,” said Zibert.

“At first we were plagued with thoughts like: what on earth would we do with this property? What could, and should we do with it? And also: is it even right for us actually even take it on? But as we are from the area, then we all felt that as part of this local community, we also have the duty to contribute to a sense of facing up and taking responsibility for this place.”

Himmler was captured in May 1945 while trying to flee from the advancing Allies and committed suicide in British custody by swallowing a hidden cyanide pill. The same month the Third US Army fought their way through to the Tegernsee Valley and the Americans requisitioned the villa. After the war it reverted to public ownership.

Over the years it has been used as a clinic, a sanatorium, a health farm and a corporate conference centre.

“We are trying to create a place which is all about promoting openness and tolerance,” said Zibert.

Sacha Stawsk attacked the new development in trenchant terms: “Ever wanted to know what it feels like to eat hummus in Himmler’s dining room? Well, now you can.

“In most countries, a responsible handling of a historic site like this would have meant building a memorial or museum, which educates about the atrocities committed by a vile man like Himmler.

“Yet here in Germany in 2023 you may stand by the history of your property, including mentioning on your website that a slave labourer died while building Himmler’s personal bunker, and do everything possible to bring back the authentic beauty of the original setting of this once impressive refuge of one of the worst Nazi figures.”

“Let’s not talk about the horrible crimes Himmler planned out while sitting in his romantic garden. Instead, let’s invite guests to sit on Himmler’s original park bench and enjoy the lake view sunset.

“What next? Should we build a rollercoaster ride in Dachau?”

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