Elstal – Berlin’s Abandoned Olympic Village

The Elstal Olympic Village was built for the 1936 Olympic Games in Berlin, Germany. At that time, the Nazis had taken power and Hitler wanted to use the international event to showcase national socialism to the world. No expense was spared on the venues. The Olympic Village in Elstal was converted into a barracks after the games and left abandoned after World War 2. It remains as such to this day and is a favourite of European urban explorers.

Following the war, the question of what to do with some of the buildings that represented Germany’s darkest days was floating around the country and the 1936 Olympic venues attracted much criticism. Germany had been awarded the Olympic Games before Hitler had come to power but it was how he used the event to flaunt his agenda on a world stage that many regular Germans took issue with. They would again hold the Olympic games in Munich in 1972 but this too was not without controversy as the death of 11 Israeli athletes drew the attention of the entire world.

The Olympic Stadium was renovated and restored for the 2006 Fifa World Cup however 14 kilometres to the west, the Olympic Village in Elstal remains as it was left in 1945 at the end of the war. 4000 athletes lived here for the duration of the games.

The grounds are open to the public now, although safety concerns mean a lot of the area is off limits still. The Jesse Owens exhibition is the only athlete residence which you can go inside. You can take a tour throughout the abandoned Olympic Village either alone or with a guide. For those visiting Berlin with an interest in urban exploration it is certainly a must see.

This is the article about the 1936 Berlin Olympics at About.com –

The IOC had awarded the Games to Berlin in 1931 with no idea that Adolf Hitler was to take power in Germany two years later. By 1936, the Nazis had control over Germany and had already begun to implement their racist policies. There was international debate as to whether the 1936 Olympics in Nazi Germany should be boycotted. The United States was extremely close to boycotting but at the last minute decided to accept the invitation to attend.

The Nazis saw the event as a way to promote their ideology. They built four grandiose stadiums, swimming pools, an outdoor theater, a polo field, and an Olympic Village that had 150 cottages for the male athletes. Throughout the Games, the Olympic complex was covered in Nazi banners. Leni Riefenstahl, a famous Nazi propaganda filmaker, filmed these Olympic Games and made them into her movie Olympia.

These Games were the first ones televised and were the first to use telex transmissions of the results. Also debuting at these Olympics was the torch relay.

Jesse Owens, a black athlete from the United States, was the star of the 1936 Olympic Games. Owens, the “Tan Cyclone,” brought home four gold medals: the 100-meter dash, the long jump (made an Olympic record), the 200-meter sprint around a turn (made a world record), and part of the team for the 400-meter relay.

About 4,000 athletes participated, representing 49 countries.

Location: Berlin, Germany

Category: Ghost Town

Abandoned: 1945


An abandoned building at Elsta Olympic Village

The abandoned swimming pool in Elstal Olympic Village

Elstal was abandoned after the 1936 Olympics

The abandoned Elstal Olympic Village

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