I've written many articles on our 2005 March of the Living experiences at Auschwitz and the ministry tour throughout Poland and the Ukraine viewing these war and extermination sites.
Likewise I've written about the Darwin War Museum from the Japanese air attacks in WWII and the various associated sites around Darwin along with many other such sites including the WWII chemical war testing the at Gunyara near Proserpine in Queensland.
Now, the Bavarian Government in Germany has formally announced a make over of Hitler's alpine retreat. (www.smh.com.au)
The alpine village was a second centre of power after Berlin for the Nazis, with high-ranking officials like Herman Goering, Albert Speer and Martin Bormann also keeping homes there. The work starts in 2015 with a 2018 completion date.
The centre will include details on Obersalzberg - the mountain ridge where Hitler had his Eagle's Nest retreat and Berghof home and headquarters - as well as on the Nazi regime in general. These were two separate buildings, one was Hitler's house (Berghof) and the other a NAZI celebration (Eagle's Nest) on the very top of the mountain with a gold coated lift from the road to the mountain top.
This comes on top of Poland publicly searching for an investor to turn the "Wolf's Lair" of Nazi leader Adolf Hitler into a tourist attraction. The ruins of Hitler's fortress complex deep in the woodlands of north eastern Poland is famed as the site of an assassination attempt on Hitler by Colonel Claus von Stauffenberg. I wrote of this in March 2012. (au.christiantoday.com)
The Wolf's Lair served as one of Hitler's military headquarters during World War Two and was destroyed by the Nazi forces as they retreated in early 1945. The site, whose name refers to Hitler's nickname, "Mr. Wolf" consisted of 80 buildings at its peak and is owned by the local forestry authority.
The requirements are quite high because the new leaseholder will need to invest heavily, particularly in a museum with an exhibition that could be open all year long. It is of interest that the remaining ruins are open to the public, but do not attract many visitors because they are hidden deep in a forest and accessible only by rough corrugated roads. (www.smh.com.au)
The Wolf's Lair built in 1940 and 1941 to protect Hitler and other top Nazi officials from air bombardment during Operation Barbarossa, the invasion of the Soviet Union. It had its own power plant and a railway station. It was heavily camouflaged and surrounded by a minefield, which the article noted took 10 years to clear after the war.
March of the Living
I was one of 48 international delegates invited to the 60th anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz in Poland for the March of the Living in 2005. I have an interest in Jewish matters and is a qualified tourist guide with InnerFaith travel with pilgrims to the Holy Land.
There is a fascination with such tourism sites where hundreds of thousands of people were simply sent to their death in a mechanised fashion never witnessed previously in such a mass scale over such a long period of time. Such macabre centres are a place of interest, especially those with an historical bent.
Of more Australian interest is the bombing of Darwin on the 19 February 1942 in which a new museum was opened earlier this year celebrating its 70th anniversary. The Kokoda Trail is also a favourite trek where in 1942 the Australian Militia 39th Division undertook a planned retreat holding up the Japanese, many believing saved Port Moresby and possibly Australia. (www.trekkokoda.com.au)
Tourism Memorial Sites
There are many weird and strange war-tourism sites. One is the Gunyarra Army Camp 1944-45 near Proserpine Queensland, the First Australian Field Experimentation site for research on chemical warfare agents and protective materials. Mark Tronson said he and his wife visited this site following the tourism signs.
Obviously the War Memorial in Canberra is the nation's centre piece in terms of war tourism. Hundreds of thousands visit each year.
War tourism dollars are crucial to Australia as they are to any nation including Poland and Bavaria.
The Christian Padre's played an important role in war time and Patsy Adam Smith's book The ANZACS has a chapter on the Padres. In her book she quoted a letter by a WWI Padre who wrote that war is about writing letters of irretrievable anguish to mothers and wives and sweethearts.
Dr Mark Tronson is a Baptist minister (retired) who served as the Australian cricket team chaplain for 17 years (2000 ret) and established Life After Cricket in 2001. He was recognised by the Olympic Ministry Medal in 2009 presented by Carl Lewis Olympian of the Century. He has written 24 books, and enjoys writing. He is married to Delma, with four adult children and grand-children.
Mark Tronson's archive of articles can be viewed at www.pressserviceinternational.org/mark-tronson.html