The Wewelsburg „Dorfgemeinschaftshaus“ – The SS built Village Community Centre
In 1935 the SS acquired the “Ottens Hof” from farmer Thiele Hofstelle , an abandoned semi-ruined farm building , rebuilt it and gave it to the village of Wewelsburg in return for the SS taking over the banqueting hall in the castle Wewelsburg which had until then been used by the villagers as the village community centre.
SS-Hauptsturmführer Walter Franzius in the Staff of the SS-Reichsführer Himmler was tasked with bringing the people of Wewelsburg around to to the “Nazi world view” by Castle Captain von Knobelsdorff at the end of 1934. Part of this task involved the re-build of the Ottens Hof and with help from the local RAD, local artisans & crafts people, the NS-Gemeinschaft Kraft durch Freude and members of the castle’s SS-„Burgmannschaft“, work was started to rebuild the Ottens Hof in the SS and NS style for the people.
In 1938 Franzius wrote an the article (below) for the Journal ‘ Our Home and Reich’ entitled ‘A Westphalian Village Community House’.
A Westphalian Village Community House
“The cultural neglect of our rural folk is largely to blame for the calamitous flight from the land, which must be stopped using all the means at our disposal. The National Socialist State Leadership has taken steps to give farmers the opportunity to participate in cultural life in their villages, and to act as the new creators of a German culture. As a precondition for this, community houses are to be built in all villages. Work has quietly begun on constructing a house of this type in Wewelsburg (in the district of Büren). Being an architect, the author of the following contribution, Walter Franzius, the Hauptsturmführer in the Staff of the Reichsführer of the SS, planned and directed the building work.
The idea of village community houses, leading to the Folk community is a seven-league step forward into the future of our Folk. A completely new attitude is emerging in the countryside as the rural population grows together into a community sharing a common destiny, through which the communal life of all is shaped. This idea of belonging together will grow beyond the hitherto-existing entity of the homestead as a community just as it will grow and bridge the gap that has existed between the settled farmers and the farm labourers. This is something completely new and a total departure from the obsession of the individual, constituting itself slowly as it subordinates itself to the one great idea of the “Folk community”. It is the attitude which the true National Socialist holds with respect to his tasks on earth. National Socialism also intervenes here to shape developments, effortlessly overcoming obsolete ideas and customs not with laws, but by the compelling force of its life energy and its forward-looking idea. The rural folk are awakening and participating in world events. As an important element of our Folk, eternally preserving our culture, an especially lofty task is incumbent upon the farmer. He is the guardian of thousands of years of Teutonic-Germanic culture. This life-source of the German Folk, which had been deliberately buried and contaminated, has begun to flow again, pure and clear, since 1933 in the most far-reaching revolution of all time. The farmer knows that he not only has to provide bread for the urban population, but that he himself is a pillar supporting the nation. This evolving village community, the generation growing up in the Hitler Youth, the young farmers – men and women – as well as the aged, they will all find a source of comradeship in the new village communities, a place for preserving and cultivating farmer culture, a place for relaxation and edification as well as for instruction. These houses will be the nucleus of public life, and the time is no longer far off in which these houses of the community will appear in all the Gauen [Party provinces] in Great Germany as lustrous symbols of the strength and vitality of our Folk as well as the unity of farmer life.
The first village community house was erected in a small Westphalian village, in Wewelsburg near Paderborn. In 1935, the Reichsführer of the SS made the decision to erect a worthy place offering all farmers and working people in the village the opportunity to share hours of seriousness and joy with one another. It was from this idea that the plan evolved to have a focal point of community life erected here. And it was from this, in turn, that the spatial requirements evolved, which can be considered as the final solution. It will hardly be possible to construct them in any village from one day to the next, and people will have to content themselves with partial solutions for the time being. The prime focal point is the meeting place and the worthy congregation hall, which is neither intended as a cult room nor will it be shrouded in any mystical,oriental semi-darkness, instead it is to be filled with a clear, bright, life-affirming spirit. Attached to the house are to be the home and handicraft workshops of the Hitler Youth, as well as the areas for sports, health care and the day nurseries for young children, as well as the village library, the offices of the Party and its subdivisions as well as those of the parish administration.”
Below, the Dorfgemeinshafthaus completed. Handed over to the inhabitants of Wewelsburg by Himmler personally on 8 May 1937. Himmler described it as the focal point uniting the village and the castle.
The upper floor, the Wedding hall.
Himmler attending a wedding in the Dorfgemeinschaftshaus Wedding room.
The Wewelsburg Dorfgemeinschaftshaus as it stands now, an Inn and Restuarant.
Ornate handmade wrought iron to the small window above the door.
The double horse head ironwork on the oak doors of the main entrance.