Military History

TEMPLE OF DOOM

In 1936 Adolf Hitler’s Schutzstaffel—the dreaded SS—began transforming a medieval castle abbey associated with Germany’s first king into a Nazi worship center. The shrine to the Führer and National Socialism was in the scenic town of Quedlinburg, amid the northern foothills of Saxony’s Harz Mountains.

A region of dark crags and misty mountains well known for its folktales of witchcraft and demons, the range gained an even more chilling reputation when in his play Faust Johann Wolfgang von Goethe called it a gathering place of evil spirits. The SS seizure of Quedlinburg Abbey from its congregation ensured the region became an epicenter of Nazi occultism. The twisted transformation that unfolded would see a battle for a church, a hunt for a missing royal skeleton, ghostly candlelit ceremonies in an ancient crypt and the transformation of a medieval church into a temple of Nazi terror.

Since the death of Heinrich der Vogelfänger (Henry the Fowler) in 936, the details of his life have fallen into obscurity. The first king of a unified German state, Heinrich was popular in his day for having waged wars against Eastern European neighbors. Despite being married to a devout Christian, he refused the traditional church anointing of his coronation.

German poets, playwrights and nationalists have since romanticized Heinrich in their works. The rugged king—known to have been an avid hunter—has a leading role in Richard Wagner’s famed opera , appearing in all three acts. The seat of Heinrich’s power was the mountain town of Quedlinburg, where, like many German rulers, he established his imperial residence in a hilltop castle. After his death the widowed Queen Mathilde founded an abbey church adjoining the castle and dedicated to St. Servatius. The famed king was said to have

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