A VISIT TO HERMANN GÖRING’S CARINHALL

by Josephine Cowdery - Text & Photos © Copyright 2007
Hermann Goering
In early 1990, a few months after the fall of the Berlin Wall, my husband Ray and I drove to the Schorfheide north of Berlin to have a look at what remained of Hermann Göring’s fabulous country estate, Carinhall. We traversed the remote, wooded area for an hour or so in a rental car before encountering a large and matronly lady forestry official who was clearly a carry-over from the recent communist administration of East Germany. After telling us we didn’t belong there and finding us unmoved, she reluctantly agreed to escort us to the site of Carinhall. As we approached the entrance to the property, the lady forester departed with the admonition, “No smoking in this area."
Hermann Göring bought land as a private citizen on the Schorfheide, a low lying forested area north of Berlin in 1933. He passed on his house ideas to architect Professor Werner March (the designer of the Berlin Olympic Stadium) who completed a small hunting chalet in 1934. The simple house blended in with nature at the edge of the Döllnsee (Dölln Lake). It was 51 feet long x 37 feet wide. A mausoleum was also built on the property for Göring’s first wife, Swedish divorcée Carin von Fock-Göring who died on 17 October 1931. On 20 June 1934 her remains were entombed there after being brought to Germany from Lovö, Sweden. Adolf Hitler and many prominent Nazis were present, as was the Von Fock family and Carin’s son from her first marriage.
Hermann Göring, proprietor of Carinhall, World War I aviation hero, recipient of the Pour Le Mérite, recipient of the Grand Cross of the Iron Cross, Reichsmarschall, Minister of Aviation, State Forestry and Hunting Master of Germany, Chief of the Luftwaffe, Head of the Four Year Economic Plan and second in command during the entire Third Reich.
Doellnsee
Aside from Carinhall, Göring had an official state residence on Leipziger Platz in Berlin, his alpine house on the Obersalzberg above Berchtesgaden, Castle Veldenstein north of Nürnberg and Mauterndorf Castle (both inherited from his Godfather Ritter Hermann von Epenstein), three hunting cabins (Röth, Pait and at Darss), a grand state hunting lodge in Rominten, and a house in Wenningstadt on the German island of Sylt.
Carinhall
Above, the boathouses on the Döllnsee in about 1936. Left, the author standing next to the gatehouse entrance to the Carinhall estate. Please notice the coat of arms of the Reichsmarschall on the shield above the doorway.

After the death of Paul von Hindenburg in August 1934, Adolf Hitler also took over the function of State President and Hermann Göring became more involved in representing the Reich. Hitler’s Haus Wachenfeld (expanded in 1936 it became the “Berghof”) on the Obersalzberg above Berchtesgaden was used to receive official state visitors, but it was quite small and too far away from Berlin. It was decided that Carinhall would be enlarged to become a “Haus des Reiches”, an official state residence. With a government decree the Schorfheide-area, including Göring’s Carinhall, was put into a foundation owned by the Prussian State, but Carinhall was to be at Göring’s disposal as long as he was alive.

Hermann Goerings Carinhall
In 1936 Carinhall was enlarged for the first time and Göring’s ideas were incorporated by an architect, this time Friedrich Hetzelt. The famous construction company Philip Holzmann AG was in charge of construction. They are still in business today and erected many of the new government buildings in reunified Berlin.

Carinhall became the official summer state residence of Hermann Göring and his staff in 1937. After the reconstruction, there was a 216 feet new wing, a large courtyard and a study library next to the old, existing structure which was incorporated in the new plan. The “Jagdhalle” (Hunt Hall) or large reception room was 72 feet long x 38 feet wide, had a giant fireplace and a 5 x 18 foot retractable glass picture window. Also built were Göring family quarters, a hunting trophy room, a bowling alley, cinema and a Bierstube.

Goering, Forestry Minister
Above, the original Jagdhalle at Carinhall.

A separate staff building was 208 feet long and built in the same style as the main house. It housed living quarters for the staff, a doctor’s office, laundry, telephone switchboard, heating facilities, generators, 13 firemen, security personnel and garages. During the 1936 construction a stone terrace adjacent to the beach, a tennis court and a shooting range were also added.

More construction took place during the year 1939. Existing buildings were enlarged in this second round of remodeling. The already huge Jagdhalle was enlarged from 72 to 215 feet, a new main entrance was constructed and the courtyard was enlarged as well. Also added were a dentist office, a sauna and fitness room (with Elizabeth Arden massage machines), an indoor swimming pool and a new set up for Göring’s model train set which consisted of 321 feet of electric train tracks with tunnels, bridges and even miniature airplanes. The 1941 insurance value of the train set was 662,345 Reichsmarks ($265,000)!

Hermann Goering
Above, Hermann Göring, the archer.
Right, Göring in front of the fireplace in the Jagdhalle.
In the basement of the building that housed the living quarters for Hermann Göring, his wife Emmy and daughter Edda, a special room was set aside for Göring’s lion cubs. All through the 1930s he raised lion cubs. When they got too big he would exchange them at the Berlin Zoo for new, smaller ones.

Carinhall had a modern sewer system so nearby lakes would not be polluted. Some of the rooms of the estate had air conditioning and some had heated floors.

In 1941 a new road leading to the entrance of Carinhall was built. This road was later to be connected to the town of Friedrichswalde where a new railway station was planned. In 1943 two gatehouses were built and they are still there today.

Hermann & Emmy Goering

Operating Carinhall in 1942 alone cost the Prussian State government 475,000 Reichsmarks ($190,000). There were 20 permanent personnel, including 11 cleaning ladies. Three security rings encompassed Carinhall, just like at the Obersalzberg and one needed a pass to get in. Among Göring’s cars were a Buick and two Mercedes-Benz’s, including the famous 12-cylinder cabriolet. Garden operations cost about 20,000 Reichsmarks ($8000) per year (there were vegetable and fruit gardens as well as a complete farm which provided other “groceries”).

There was a miniature version of Berlin’s Sans-Souci Palace in the garden built of wood. It was a baptism present for Hermann and Emmy Göring’s daughter Edda, born on 2 June 1938, paid for by a collection taken among Luftwaffe personnel. She was baptised on 4 November 1938 and Adolf Hitler was her Godfather.

The second round of construction at Carinhall (1938 - 1942) cost about 6.6 million Reichsmarks ($2,640,000). The insurance value of Carinhall in 1945 was 10.1 million RM (4 million dollars)!

There were many famous names in the Carinhall guestbook: former American President Herbert Hoover, the Duke and Duchess of Windsor, aviator Charles Lindbergh, Benito Mussolini, the kings of Bulgaria, Rumania and Yugoslavia, Willi Messerschmitt, Heinkel, etc.

Hermann Göring, and his second wife actress Emmy Sonnemann dining at Carinhall. They were married in the Berlin Cathedral on 10 April 1935. Incredibly Mrs. Göring and her daughter Edda were imprisoned by the Allies after the war and in 1948 Mrs. Göring was convicted of being a Nazi. She was banned from performing on stage for 5 years. She died on 6 August 1973 at 80 years of age.
At special events cooks from the famous Horcher Restaurant in Berlin would come to Carinhall. If they were not able to prepare delicacies for guests, Hotel Kempinski would send cooks and or food. (Otto Horcher moved his restaurant to Madrid, Spain in 1943, and after the war Otto Skorzeny was a daily visitor.)

At the start of the war more changes were made at Carinhall. Air raid and bomb shelters were built for the Göring family, with separate ones for personnel and guests. A special bunker with telephone and radio facilities was constructed under Göring’s study, 36 feet below the ground. The 8 foot thick walls were lined with wood paneling. The bunker’s emergency exit at Dölln Lake was discovered in 1993, fully intact. A wooden copy of Carinhall was built on Lübelow lake nearby, in the hope of confusing enemy bombers. During the war a bus service was established between staff and government offices in Berlin and Carinhall to eliminate many single-car trips.

In 1944 new building plans for Carinhall were still being drawn up. Those plans included a 960 feet long wing that was intended to house the future Hermann Göring Museum. The art museum was to be opened on Hermann Göring’s 60th birthday, 12 January 1953. That construction project was never started.

Göring was well-liked by his staff and employees. There were special movie evenings for personnel at Carinhall and during the war employees were provided with venison from the Carinhall farm. Before Göring had Carinhall blown up in 1945, employees could take things from the house, but they had to sign receipts for the goods taken!

On 13 March 1945, as Soviet troops closed in on the Schorfheide, the last transport of valuables left Carinhall, headed south to Tirol and southern Bavaria.

Above, a workman assists Göring in mounting yet another set of stag antlers to the wall at Carinhall. Below, in addition to raising lions, Göring kept North American Bison and other big game animals on his Schorfheide Estate.
Bison
On 21 April 1945, on orders of Hermann Göring, Luftwaffe troops blew up Carinhall. Bombs were placed at cellar walls to collapse the structure. What was left standing was raised to the ground by the East German Army in the 1950s. Soviet troops occupying that area of East Germany used the rubble as building material. They also searched nearby houses for loot from Carinhall and a list was made of plunder recovered from houses in the neighborhood of the former estate. The list is in the Brandenburg State Archives in Potsdam, but nobody knows what happened to the items on it after the list was made.

There has been a lot of speculation about what happened to the body of Carin Göring. On 10 April 1947 a report was filed at the Provincial Government of Brandenburg after a visit to Carinhall by officials. They reported the coffin was found in the mausoleum with the mummified body of Carin Göring laying next to it, the head and feet missing. The torso was returned to her family and reburied in Sweden.

Josephine Cowdery Ray Cowdery
Right, Ray Cowdery emerging from the space beneath the collapsed floor of the Great Hall. Among other things he found a wheel from Göring’s famous electric toy train set. Left, the author examining items excavated at the base of one of the courtyard lamps.
Author Josephine Cowdery and her husband Ray organized and guided dozens of World War II military history tours of Europe from 1984 through 2000.
Photos from the collection of Ray and Josephine Cowdery © Copyright 2007