House at Number 31, Zehlendorf, Berlin 2101
© Leslie Hossack
Over 70 years ago the Zehlendorf settlement was built by Hitler’s National Socialist regime for SS officers and their families. This exclusive neighbourhood was constructed in an idyllic forest along the shores of Krumme Lanke, on the west side of Berlin. Today, things still look much the same there as they did in 1945 when the Nazi government surrendered at the end of WW II.
The setting reminds me of the German fairy tale Hansel and Gretel, recorded by the Brothers Grimm and published in 1812. In the story, two children are threatened by an evil witch who lives in a charming cottage 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.