When work gets tough—and that sort of thing happens when you’re Joseph Goebbels, leading the propaganda charge for the Third Reich—you must try to take breaks, away from all that genocide stuff. For Goebbels, his respites often took place near Bogensee Lake, located about 20 miles north of Berlin, at a sprawling country mansion on 42 acres where he could enjoy in the delights of a “revolving cast of budding actresses and paramours” in some of its 70 bedrooms. When the Nazis bought the land in 1936, it came with a little cabin, which they presented to Goebbels for his 39th birthday. He quickly fell in love with the land and decided to build a villa, complete with a private cinema in which I imagine he watched his sick films. He and a number of other Nazi officials used the space until 1939.
For the past 15 years, however, Berlin has been trying to sell the property, which also boasts a huge complex built by East Germany “in the Stalinist style of early 1950s house a training center for the FDJ, the community party’s youth indoctrination organization,” reported the AFP on Wednesday. But the property remains listed as a historical site, which adds a stigma—and perhaps a draw—to potential buyers. Birgit Moehring, who is heading its sale for the city, said “I am really afraid this could become a shrine for Nazis and I don’t think we should take that risk.”
The current state of Goebbels’s old villa is not good, as its settled into moldy disrepair. A solution, Moehring told the AFP, would be to raze it to the ground.
Jonathan Zalman is a writer and teacher based in Brooklyn.