The Olympic Games in Berlin in 1936 were held during the Nazi regime and the National Socialist regime used them to project a positive, modern image of itself. The Olympic Stadium in Berlin-Westend was built for the sporting competitions and 18 kilometres to the west, in the Brandenburg Elstal, the accommodation for the international athletes was erected. 80 years have passed and now part of the rotten complex of the Olympic Village is being redeveloped into luxury flats, while the rest is left to decay. Among the abandoned buildings is the Hindenburghaus, named in honour of the former Field Marshal and President of the Reich, a cultural centre where a Lenin mural can still be found today. And of course, one might ask how this Lenin painting came to be placed in a sports complex built by the Nazis.
The military use of the Olympic Village began immediately after the Olympic Games: first the Wehrmacht took over and after the end of World War II the victorious Soviet army moved in. In the following decades, the complex housed not only units of the Soviet Armed Forces but also the Soviet Army Sports Club SASK Elstal and also served as a venue for major sporting competitions attended by military members from Soviet bases throughout the GDR.
When the last soldiers left Elstal in 1992 as a consequence of the withdrawal of the Soviet military from Germany, the empty facility was left abandoned. At the beginning of the 2000s it became a beloved destination of urban explorers, who were still looking for traces of the former Olympic Village, the Wehrmacht and the Soviet Army. The Lenin mural in the Hindenburghaus quickly developed into one of the great attractions of this ghost town. However, the depiction of the revolutionary leader was usually mistaken for a work of the Soviets. In reality, it is a painting that was put up at the end of the 1990s during the shooting of a post-communist film, which the film crew painted on the wall in reddish colour.
But even if its historical value as a film set is rather insignificant, it is still astonishing how the figure of Lenin appears again and again in the most extraordinary places in a surprising way. At the moment, however, the mural is not open to the public. For many years it was still possible to take part in guided tours of the Olympic Village, but today the entire complex is closed due to construction work.
Special thanks to Sven (instagram: urbex_svenhb) for the photos of the Lenin mural.
Photo Hindenburghaus: Karsten Knuth (Wiki Commons)
Photos construction work: Yasmin Afshar