The Orange Easyjet bird appeared through the grey clouds that seem to always hang around Bristol Airport its landing lights homing in on the runway, with a screech of tyre’s and the roar of the reverse thrust,the plane slowed as it approached the end of the runway and turned onto the taxiway, our fellow travellers had arrived from Sanremo Italy a destination that would be seen again in a few weeks.
Sharon and Liam, my sister and nephew quickly passed through the rigors of the airport scrutiny and with greetings over we walked to the car park, they were introduced to Kitty home and transport for three weeks…..
The final Packing was completed and after a good nights sleep in Bradford on Avon we set off on the Monday morning(24th July) first stop Oakham Rutland for a family get together and some last minute shopping in Stamford with the pleasant surprise of catching up with an old friend who Co-owns More Travel ,this is a great travel agent’s and their friendly team will make sure you have the get away you desire.
The morning of the 25th July arrived a hearty English breakfast was enjoyed followed by a chilled day, the time soon arrived for us to travel to Harwich to catch the ferry to the Hook of Holland this was it the start of the adventure, with the farewell picture taken and goodbyes complete we hit the roads and Google Maps guided us towards our waiting ferry. We arrived with no problems all was going well, onto the ferry we chugged.
We tracked down our cabin for the night and claimed our beds, I managed to secure a double bed for myself being the driver I needed the sleep the most, unknown to me these arrangements would change, children always change their minds.
After a good sleep, the morning alarm call for breakfast awoke us all and we had another English breakfast…not good for my waistline. Rolling off the ferry we drove to the nearest petrol station for a splash of diesel and tyre pressures check, all was good so we began our trek transiting through flat Holland and onto Herford Germany. As we became ever closer to Herford our bellies began to rumble so a pit stop was in order, we chugged into the town of Hiddenhausen and ate some wonderful German sandwiches at Backerei Hensel.
Why stop at Herford I hear you all cry, well in 1992 this was where I was stationed with the 9/12 Royal Lancers at Harewood Barracks, I wanted to return and see what had changed. So we found a campsite and then headed to the H2O water park for some watery fun, great place but the changing facilities when busy are insufficient and you ended up walking around aimlessly waiting for a changing room.
After the swim and a quick explore of Herford, a visit to Lidl’s was the order of the day for the all-important wine supply then back to the campsite as the next day was going to be very busy.
On the morning of the 27th July we set off for Munich but had decided to explore Wewelsburg Castle which is the dominant landmark of Wewelsburg Village, the Castle has a Dark past as it was acquired by the SS (Schutzstaffel) under the command of Heinrich Himmler after 1934 it was rebuilt and expanded for the purpose of being the focal point of the SS ideology.
Wewelsburg Castle was built between 1603 and 1609 in Weser Renaissance style as a supplementary residence for the Prince Bishops of Paderborn. The triangular castle, which is located in the village of Wewelsburg in the district of Paderborn, stands high on a rock overlooking the Alme Valley.
Himmler decided to buy or lease the castle on his first visit on 3 November 1933. His architect, Hermann Bartels was able to draw on existing plans for the Freiwilliger Arbeitsdienst (FAD), (voluntary labour service), camp, for the now envisaged Reichsführerschule SS (SS Leadership School). This school was mainly intended to ensure a unified ideological training of the SS leadership and would be run by the Rasseamt of the SS.
Negotiations were difficult, however, since the Landrat of Büren was unwilling to give up control of the castle. In the first half of 1934, a 100-year lease was agreed for the symbolic annual rent of 1 Reichsmark. Initial work on the school by the Freiwilliger Arbeitsdienst (FAD), (voluntary labour service), started in January 1934. In August 1934, former professional soldier and brother in law of Walther Darré, Manfred von Knobelsdorf moved in with his family as Burghauptman. On 22 September 1934, Himmler officially took over the Wewelsburg in a large ceremony. The Völkischer Beobachter, in reporting on the event, while mentioning the Germanic and historic past of the region, emphasized the educational aspects.
The focus of the school was to become: “Germanische Vor- und Frühgeschichte, Volkstumskunde u. a. als Rüstzeug zur weltanschaulich-politischen Schulung” (i.e. “Germanic pre- and early history, folklore studies, etc. as an equipment for ideological-political training”). Knobelsdorff envisioned a kind of Nordic academy
There is some speculation that it was Karl Maria Wiligut who convinced Himmler to use the castle not only as a school but also as a cult site; Wiligut allegedly was inspired by the old Westphalian legend of the “Battle at the Birch Tree” (Schlacht am Birkenbaum). The saga tells about a future “last battle at the birch tree”, in which a “huge army from the East” is beaten decisively by the “West”. During 1935, Wiligut reportedly predicted to Himmler that the Wewelsburg would be the “bastion”.
Wewelsburg Castle is a must place to visit, parking was free and the Memorial Museum is free and takes 2-3 hours there is a cafe and other museums that you have to pay for.
After a bacon sandwich in the car park, we set off for Munich but with continued road works and traffic jams we had to stop for the night about 150 miles short of Munich.
Part 2 Munich and Dachau Concentration Camp