Hansel & Gretel in the Zehlendorf SS settlement

by Leslie Hossack

Two Houses, Zehlendorf, Berlin 2010

© Leslie Hossack

These houses were built by Hitler’s National Socialist regime for SS officers and their families. They are located in an idyllic forest along the shores of Krumme Lanke, on the west side of Berlin in Zehlendorf.

This setting makes me think of the German fairy tale Hansel and Gretel, recorded by the Brothers Grimm and published in 1812. In the story, the two children are threatened by an evil witch who lives in a charming house deep in the dark woods.

The photograph above shows a typical example of Nazi residential architecture. The tiny houses with steep tile roofs and shuttered windows are scattered about in a natural setting. These detached, semi-detached and terraced houses were allocated to SS officers according to rank.

In his book titled Architecture in Berlin 1933 – 1945, A Guide Through Nazi Berlin, Matthias Donath writes: Most of the residential buildings and settlements … were given a more traditional form. The buildings had steep tile roofs; the windows could be closed with shutters. The appearance of half-timbered construction gave the houses a local flare. A typical example of this is the Zehlendorf SS settlement built in 1938 – 1940 in Berlin that now bears the name Waldsiedlung Krumme Lanke.

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