Hitler and the Mysteries of the Gran Hotel Viena

Despite all the evidence in this regard, many refused to accept that the Führer had died. Shortly after the war and for several years, rumors of a live Hitler shook the front pages of newspapers around the world, especially during the 1950s, denied the facts and even today there are people who continue to deny.  "Hitler did not die in the Bunker," they say.  "He managed to escape just before the Russians arrived. He hid. He stayed away from everything and - last but not least - he lived in Argentina for many years".

Gradually, major newspapers  relegated the story to the inside pages, devoting less and less space and attention to it.  The story was taken over by sensationalist magazines that continued to exploit it story with relative success. 

As a result of this, Hitler ceased to be in a particular place and began to be seen everywhere.  The dream world soared, becoming infinite, inexhaustible.

When World War II ended in 1945, the Legend that Adolf Hitler had escaped Berlin were spread far and wide.  The collective imagination began to work on all kinds of rumors and Allied Intelligence services were added to the disinformation campaign, leaving open the possibility that such escape were true.  They did not lack "reliable witnesses" who swore they had seen the Führer in different parts of the world, but especially in Argentina, a country that was labeled by the American ambassador Spruille Braden as a "Nazi Nest" in the mid-1940s.

That rumor turned out to be powerful and durable. Even now, in the early twenty-first century books are still published that talk about it;  Abel Basti wrote "Bariloche Nazi.  Related to National Historic Sites", a travel guide where on a map are marked "Nazi"' sites. The book explicitly announces, in a subtitle: '"t includes the places where they lived Adolf Hitler and Eva Braun lived after they escaped from Berlin". 

The Legend of a South American escape of the Führer sells well.  It generates an atmosphere of mystery that attracts people.  And it is at this point that comes the well-known Viena Grand Hotel Miramar, Cordoba, comes in.

But before penetrating that world of masquerades and deception,  the causes and mechanisms behind the rumors and stories like that needs to be analyzed.  

When the German Emperor Frederick Barbarossa drowned on 10 June 1190, while trying to cross the river Kydnos, in Asia Minor, after having won substantial military victories over the Muslims, his death was not accepted by his subjects. 

They rejected the "dumb" way to die of such a famous warrior who, in the name of God, marched into a Crusade.  They had awaited his return for years and dozens of stories were told that the Emperor would return one day to rid the world of heretics. There was no shortage of people saying "I have seen, or have been told them that he had seen".  Frederick was defending Christianity.  It could not be otherwise.

Frederick I [German: Friedrich I, Italian: Federico I], also known as Frederick Barbarossa [Italian: Federico Barbarossa], was the Holy Roman Emperor from 1155 until his death. He was elected King of Germany at Frankfurt on 4 March 1152 and crowned in Aachen on 9 March 1152. He became King of Italy in 1155 and was crowned Roman Emperor by Pope Adrian IV on 18 June 1155. Two years later, the term sacrum [holy] first appeared in a document in connection with his Empire.He was later formally crowned King of Burgundy, at Arles on 30 June 1178. He was named Barbarossa by the northern Italian cities which he attempted to rule: Barbarossa means "red beard" in Italian;In German, he was known as Kaiser Rotbart, which has the same meaning.

Historians consider him among the Holy Roman Empire's greatest medieval emperors. He combined qualities that made him appear almost superhuman to his contemporaries: his longevity, his ambition, his extraordinary skills at organization, his battlefield acumen and his political perspicuity.

On 10 June 1190, Emperor Frederick Barbarossa drowned near Silifke Castle in the Saleph river.

Accounts of the event are conflicting. Frederick was thrown from his horse and the shock of the cold water caused him to have a heart attack. Weighed down by his armour, he drowned in water that was barely hip-deep, according to the chronicler Ibn al-Athir. Some of Frederick's men put him in a barrel of vinegar to preserve his body.

Barbarossa's son, Frederick VI of Swabia, carried on with the remnants of the German army, only 5,000 soldiers, a small fraction of the original force, along with the Hungarian army under the command of Prince Géza, with the aim of burying the emperor in Jerusalem, but efforts to conserve his body in vinegar failed. Hence, his flesh was interred in the Church of St Peter in Antioch, his bones in the cathedral of Tyre, and his heart and inner organs in Tarsus.

Frederick is the subject of many legends, including that of a sleeping hero, like the much older British Celtic legends of Arthur or Bran the Blessed. Legend says he is not dead, but asleep with his knights in a cave in the Kyffhäuser mountain in Thuringia or Mount Untersberg in Bavaria, Germany, and that when the ravens cease to fly around the mountain he will awake and restore Germany to its ancient greatness. According to the story, his red beard has grown through the table at which he sits. His eyes are half closed in sleep, but now and then he raises his hand and sends a boy out to see if the ravens have stopped flying. A similar story, set in Sicily, was earlier attested about his grandson, Frederick II. 

Hitler spent many hours gazing  of the Untersberg mountain from his study in the Berghof. Some historians guess that, like King Arthur,  Frederick Barbarossa is buried there, waiting for a call to arise from the dead to come to his country's aid in its hour of need.

That is not the legend of the Untersberg, though.

In 1220, Templar Komtur Hubertus Koch, returning with a small party from the Crusades, passed through Mesopotamia, and near the old city of Nineveh in modern Iraq, received an apparition of the goddess Isais [first child of goddess Isis and god Set]. She told him to withdraw to the Untersberg mountain, build a house there and await her next apparition.

In 1221, Koch erected his first Komturei at the foot of Ettenberg near Markt Schellenberg. A second, larger structure followed. It is believed that over the next few years, underground galleries were excavated into various areas of the Untersberg, and in one of them a temple to Isais was built.

A second apparition occurred in 1226 and were repeated on occasions until 1238. During this period the Templars received "Die Isais Offenbarung", a series of prophesies  and information concerning the Holy Grail. The Templars at Jerusalem had knowledge of these visitations, over which the Church drew a veil of silence.

It is the German tradition that the Templars were ordered to form a secret scientific sect in southern Germany, Austria and northern Italy to be known as "Die Herren vom Schwarzen Stein" - The Lords of the Black Stone - or DHvSS for short, and this is said to be the true, hidden meaning of SS.

The Holy Grail ["Ghral" is holy stone, Persian-Arabic] was said to be a black-violet crystal, half quartz, half amethyst, through which Higher Powers communicated with humanity. It was given into the safe-keeping of the Cathars, and smuggled out of the last stronghold at Montsegur, France, and hidden, by four Cathar women on the night of 14 March 1244. There is a Cathar legend that 700 years after the destruction of the Cathar religion the Holy Grail would be returned to its rightful holders, DHvSS, or the SS?

It may be of interest to note in this connection that the Tea House designed by Hitler and built atop the Mooslahnerkopf at Obersalzberg, the stone pavillion still standing today, bears a striking resemblance to Montsegur when viewed at certain angles from the foot of the great rocky outcrop. Whether this was a coincidence remains in the mind of the beholder.

The name "Eagle's Nest" was coined by Francois Poncet the French ambassador after a visit there in 1938. It was never known as a Teahouse but today gets confused with the actual teahouse Hitler used, the Mooslahnerkopf Teehaus, situated not far from his residence, the Berghof.

This masterpiece of construction was built on the summit of the 6,017 ft wooded Kehlstein mountain high above Berchtesgaden. Officially known as the Kehlsteinhaus, the hexagon-shaped building was built as a conference and entertainment canter for visiting diplomats at the request of Martin Bormann and presented to Hitler on his 50th birthday.

Hitler made 14 official visits to the Kehlsteinhaus including his first visit on 16 September 1938 and his last visit on 17 October 1940. He also made at least 3 unofficial visits. His fear of heights caused him to avoid visiting this fabulous mountain retreat more frequently, but it was a favorite hangout for his mistress, Eva Braun, who often went there

The Berghof was connected to the Platterhof Hotel by a series of complex Bunkers deep inside the mountain. The tunnel system was an outstanding piece of underground engineering with a subterranean engine that provided power to run the elevator. Yet strangely enough, Hitler's favorite place was neither the Berghof nor the Eagle's Nest, but a cozy Tea House built on the northern boundary of the area. The pleasant walk to the "Teehaus" often became the scene for important political decisions.

Aerial photograph of the promenade from the  Berghof to the Teehaus

Hitler preferred to relax, and even nap, in the Teehaus itself, while surrounded by his closest friends and associates.

To garner political support the German Empire built atop the Kyffhäuser the Kyffhäuser Monument, which declared Kaiser Wilhelm I the reincarnation of Frederick; the 1896 dedication occurred on 18 June, the day of Frederick's coronation.

In medieval Europe, the Golden Legend became refined by Jacopo da Voragine. This was a popularized interpretation of the Biblical end of the world. It consisted of three things: (1) terrible natural disasters; (2) the arrival of the Antichrist; (3) the establishment of a good king to combat the anti-Christ. German propaganda played into the exaggerated fables believed by the common people by characterizing Frederick Barbarossa and Frederick II as personification of the "good king".

Closer in time, something similar happened with Elvis Presley.  When he died on 16 August 1977 at his mansion in Memphis, Conspiracy Theories spread worldwide.  Once again, fans of the singer refused to accept his death and Elvis, the King of Rock became a secret agent for the CIA or the DEA, thwarting a powerful Mafia group, he had to change his identity to save his skin and that of his family. There was no shortage of tabloids that published for years that the old idol was still alive, supposed photos of the composer and singer [all, of course, blurry and taken from away] were edited to certify the theory.

The Legend of Hitler wandering in the world has fueled the imagination since the moment when he shot himself.  Oral Tradition locates him in different places.  Some argue he fled to Bolivia fled, others Paraguay or Chile.  There are those who have seen him in Tibet or in Antarctica and, of course, there are those who placed him in Argentina. 

The man in the Green Overcoat

One of the most ardent "believers" of Hitler's revived Argentine is journalist Abel Basti, author of several books and articles in which he tries to prove the hectic travel of the Führer in South America.  Guided by assumptions and oral testimonies of some foundation, Basti reconstructed the route of the former German Chancellor.

According to Basti, Hitler landed from a submarine in Caleta de los Loros [a section of the Rio Negro coast between the city of Viedma and San Antonio].  After touring the region, he moved to the Estancia San Ramon, 30 kilometers east of Bariloche, owned by a German family named Lahusen.  Afterwards he relocated to Inalco Bay, close to Villa La Angostura, a bleak and isolated place in the 1940s. From there he left for La Falda, home of his good friends, the Eichhorns, staying in their Eden Hotel. [See: Basti, Abel, "Hitler in Argentina"]

But it is also said that by the end of 1945 some residents of Miramar [Cordoba] gave witness, with great conviction, to having seen him in the vicinity of the Gran Hotel Viena, walking very early by the Ansenuza Sea coast [Aguna Mar Chiquita], a mysterious old man, withered and trembling,  someone that clearly was not from the village.

He wore a long green overcoat and a beret of the same color.  Lonely and brooding, the old spoke to no one, but early Miramar risers had seen him somewhere, and after some search of their memory, identification came quickly: the old man was none other than the defeated Führer of Germany. Adolf Hitler.

What was it that gave him away?  Was it his unique mustache or did he inadvertently slip a salute with his right arm extended?  Nobody knows.  There are no photographs or evidence that irrefutably certify the presence of such a character in that remote corner Cordoba.  The only thing that there is are rumors, stories circulating by word of mouth, confirming the biggest conspiracy ever organized after World War II.

What could  Adolf Hitler have been up to in Miramar?  What relationship did the Führer have with the Grand Hotel Viena?  Was he to be permanently installed at that location or was he passing through on the way to the Eden Hotel, La Falda?  Did he intent to reorganize a Fourth Reich from the basement of a Hotel built with German capital or did he simply like the huge Pink Flamingo Lagoon Hotel?

Who is that in the Green Coat with the Hat?

The figure in the hat and green coat is "Sleepy" Tripp,
Chairman of Pan American Airways, and a great rival of Howard Hughes.

The picture itself is from a brochure or press release, circa 1954, 
on the topic of the first Boeing StratoCruiser airliner [basically a B 29 civilian brother]
to land at the [then] Idlewild Air Terminal in New York.

Idlewild is today JFK International Airport.

There are no certain answers any of these questions, in trying to explain the reasons many people came together in continuing to believe that the Legend is true.

First is the isolation.

Remote locations have always aroused a certain attraction.  There imagination and reality are often confused, becoming custodians of the most ambivalent fantasies.  There one can find aspects that range from the sublime and heavenly [health sites, relaxation, peace and harmony, away from the big cities] to the most heinous and horrible [such as the existence of a war criminal wandering freely and without fear].  Therefore, the isolated regions are disturbing "Terra Inconita" of dreams and nightmares, distorting the boundaries between real and invented.

The isolation of the Grand Hotel Viena, by the mid-1940s, helped to sustain the legend of being a "safe place, out of reach of the curious".

Its location, about twenty blocks from the Village Mall, and,  in small towns that mean twenty blocks are an enormous distance,  gave it an air of mystery. 

"The hotel area was always forbidden for Miramar inhabitants", said Patricia Zapata, a member of the "Civil Association of Friends of the Gran Hotel Viena-area".

"No one came very close to the building.  This was 'the German area'.  We were very afraid, especially when we were kids".

Of course beyond the youthful fantasies, the objective fact is that the town itself was quite far from any major national route. However, this lack of communication was not absolute.  The Administrators Complex had organized a modern telephone system connecting guests with the rest of the world.  Furthermore, repeating the suspect phenomenon of Eden Hotel de La Falda, the Grand Hotel Vienna possessed a telecommunications antenna on the water tower of over 20 meters, allowing it to send and receive messages and at the same time increasing the suspicions the population.

Did they send or receive encrypted messages during World War?

Contrary to what happened in La Falda [Ernesto Guevara Lynch, father of the famed revolutionary, wrote in his book, "My Son Che". Editorial Sudamericana, Buenos Aires, 1987 that the anti-Nazi organization to which he belonged [Action Argentina] had confirmed, following secret Intelligence work, that thanks to two big antennas on the roof, the Eden Hotel had not only received live broadcasts of the speeches of Hitler's Germany, but also, that its owners [the Eichhorns] operated as Nazi spies, transmitting vital information to Berlin. There is no evidence in this regard, only conjectures.  But, as we know, these are the most important raw material of Legends. 

Another aspect, which may be plausible, for the presence of Hitler in the region, are the health benefits of the Grand Hotel Viena.

The resort provided a two-story building adjacent to the VIP area, which served as a place where mud treatments, massage and other muscle relaxation techniques were practiced, served by a doctor and several nurses. This fact is  suggestive that the hotel had connections with the suspected Nazis, who made use of the medical services provided.

According to some testimonies collected at the hotel itself, and the unsystematic review of "artifacts" found at the site, ended with the rescue of "certain surgical instruments" gives rise to the hypothesis that that a Surgery had been there.  Why would there be an operating room in a luxury Hotel?

According to the opinion of some neighbors, some Germans, were rehabilitated for war wounds there.  One theory is, that the boat ports were used to ferry in the patients from U-Boats that remained further out.

A Nazi clinic?  Had Hitler been there for an operation?  A change of face, perhaps?

Walter and Ida Eichhorn, maintained close contact with the Gran Hotel Viena: On the shores of Mar Chiquita; they owned a property just 150 yards from the hotel. They would have met Hitler and Eva there while he was convalescing in 1946. [Whatever the Nazi's long-term plans were for the Gran Hotel Viena, they never came to much]. After the Hitler's second visit in early 1948, the property was virtually abandoned.

Unanswered questions immediately arise.

Who came to the hotel that night?  What issues were discussed at the secret conclave?  Was Hitler involved in the meeting or Juan Perón? Or was it both?  Was there talk of "Nazi Gold" or was the entry of war criminals to Argentina planned?  And what about the story that has circulated for more than 64 years speaks of "mysterious guests hidden in the basement of the Vienna?" Was the last hotel manager a polite host to Nazi leaders who came across the sea?  And if so, why accommodate them in the basement if he had a vast and empty spaces available in the hotel.

Again, no one has definitive answers.

Every possibility is still open.  And that is precisely what continues to intrigue and sells delusional Conspiracies.

Anonymous testimonies, stories proven impossible, capricious associations, sensationalism, Conspiracy theories, imagination and an absolute lack of scientific rigor are the main components of Urban Legends.  Considering the hypothesis of a Hitler wandering Argentina is a matter of faith.  And believers are not historians, but history buffs who simply know how much people like to hear and believe in stories of that caliber.  Something similar happens in a field very fashionable in recent time: Cryptozoology, a pseudoscience that is responsible for searching for mythological animals, based on the oral testimonies of witnesses who claim to have seen the Yeti, Bigfoot, the monster of Loch Ness, the Mokele Mbembe, the Chupacabras and other imaginary beings.

-- Fernando Jorge Soto Roland
History Professor at the National University of Mar del Plata 
August 2000

Grand Hotel Viena, the Giant surrounded by Luxury and Mystery

Patricia Angelleti
The Nation
11 February 2006

Mar Chiquita. In the mythical town of Miramar, that portion of land that suffered the flooding of the lagoon Mar Chiquita and now tries to recover its tourism brightness, there survives a mute witness to the times of splendor of the area: the Grand Hotel Viena.

It had all kinds of luxuries and comforts that distinguished it from others: It was a genuine five stars Hotel, in a town of just 1,600 inhabitants.

Much has been said about it, and the truth is that, amid the splendor and decline of its ruins there survive mysteries, beauty, and luxury.

The Grand Hotel Viena disappeared in 1980; its origins are related to the Second World War and its aftermath, and many accounts state that it was built with Nazi capital.

Today, the Hotel with its "legs" wet with lagoon salt water, is in great disrepair.

Currently, the "Club of Friends of the Gran Hotel Viena" is working on its reconstruction and provides visiting tours of great attraction for the participants.  What remains of this hotel is almost eerie, but it also radiates magic and mystery.  Even destroyed it exudes ineffable beauty, wonder and respect.

The  Gran Hotel Viena,  history begins with a German named Max Pahlke in 1904, who traveled to Argentina in search of work. Max met and married an Austrian woman named Melita in Uruguay about ten years later. The couple had two children, Max Jr. and Ingrid.

His wife Melita suffered from bad asthma and his son Max dealt with psoriasis. Seeking relief from their ailments in Europe was rather dangerous due to the pending World War II. Doctors suggested they visit Laguna de Mar Chiquita due to its curative baths and mud applications. The family took a trip to this location in 1938 and stayed a couple of weeks. They participated in healing treatments, balneotherapy, and mud therapy. After returning to Buenos Aires, that winter, Max noticed an improvement in his wife and son's health.

Max was in good economic standing, being the CEO of Mannesmann company, and decided to invest in Miramar. Thus began construction, done by a German company, of the first of several stages of the 5-star luxurious Gran Hotel Viena, named after his wife's birth place,  in 1940. The hotel contained 84 rooms, a medical facility equipped with doctors, nurses and massage therapists, a library, bank, dining room sitting 200, granite floors, walls lined with Carrera marble, bronze chandeliers, wine cellar, slaughterhouse, and bakery. It was the only hotel with air conditioning and heating systems in each facility, a large pool divided into saltwater and freshwater [that is if you did not want to visit the lagoon, electricity generating plant, garages with their own fuel supply and food warehouse. It was completed in December 1945.

Argentina declared war on Germany 10 days before it surrendered. Because of the Allied victory, Max was asked to leave his position in the Mannesmann Company. This along with several cases of abuse associated with employees of the hotel forced Max to close down the hotel and move his family in March of 1946.

After Pahlke's departure, the hotel continued to be under his ownership. Max Jr. continued treatments there until 1963 when his parents mutually agreed to reopen the hotel. Max Jr. or Dr. Pahlke refurbished and added on to the hotel with Dr. Koloman Kolomi Geraldini as service and administration manager. It remained opened until the mid 1980s, when a series of floods damaged the Gran Hotel Viena along with other parts of the village. Since then, the waters have receded, exposing the hotel and other buildings that weren't demolished during the flood.

The Pahlke family are currently in the legal process of reclaiming the hotel.

-- Andrea Allison
30 December 2009