Nazi Land Reclamation: Hitler’s Bid to Create Lebensraum by the Sea
In 1935, the Nazis reclaimed land from the North Sea to gain new “Lebensraum” for Aryan families. The centerpiece of the new community on Adolf Hitler Koog, since renamed Dieksanderkoog, was a grand hall. Historians want to convert it into a museum to explain Hitler’s racist ideology.
Dieksanderkoog, an area of land reclaimed from the North Sea by the Nazis, is a scenic place frequented by cyclists and dotted with holiday homes. Located where the Elbe River flows into the North Sea about 100 kilometers (62 miles) west of Hamburg, it encompasses 1,330 hectares of winding roads and meadows.
One tattered sign in front of a large red-brick building in the center of the local village reveals its origins. It was founded in 1935 as the Adolf Hitler Koog, a community of workers and artisans selected by Nazis to live there after being deemed racially pure by their standards.
The building, the old community center known as the Neulandhalle (New Land Hall), was designed as the architectural centerpiece of the Adolf Hitler Koog.
Professor Uwe Danker, a historian at the University of Flensburg, plans to raise awareness of the history of this forgotten place by converting the hall into a memorial and learning center that he says would differ from every other in Germany.
Unlike most World War II monuments in the country, Danker said, Neulandhalle would not just focus on the deadly consequences of National Socialism, but would also cover the active ideologies that led up to it in the first place.
“Restoring Neulandhalle would show the other side of the coin,” said Danker, standing in front of the imposing house with a steep-gabled roof topped by a massive square tower to symbolize power.
“Now there is a unique opportunity to show the seductive power of National Socialism and its focus on racial purity and its ‘blood and soil’ ideology, and to decipher it in an authentic place,” said Frank Trende, author of a book on Nazi land reclamation who has lived in Dieksanderkoog for the past 24 years.