Driving through Austria, you never know what history you will see
Through hockey, I have been able to travel extensively and see a lot outside of the hockey arena. Humanity’s path to this present day has always fascinated me, especially our ability to repeat the act of war. Being able to live in Europe has awarded me the ability to retrace and actually touch history; something I could only dream about while in history class in Canada.
On a day off, I decided to take a drive and explore the Austrian countryside (something I highly recommend). Mass transit is incredible and easy in Europe, but sometimes a drive will take you some places not regularly seen.
March 1938, Austrian Anschluss
On March 12th, 1938 Adolf Hitler entered Austria with his Nazi Wehrmacht and soon after Austria became unified with Nazi Germany. Happy to be back in his home country, Hitler needed a place for his Wehrmacht to be stationed and trained. So he decided on a territory in the state of Lower Austria (northern Austria) near the hometown of his ancestors. Everyone located in this zone was forced to be relocated — except for the residents of the town where his father was born, Strones.
An estimated 6,800 residents were forced to leave their villages for the creation of this new military zone called Truppenübungsplatz Döllersheim. This area became the largest military base in the German Reich and also housed a P.O.W. camp for French officers.
The end of the Nazi regime brought in a new occupying force, the Soviet Union. Whatever villages weren’t destroyed by the Nazis were left in shambles after the Red Army vacated in 1955. Once the Soviets left, the territory reverted back to control by the Republic of Austria. The territory was renamed Truppenübungsplatz Allentsteig and given to the Austrian Army with one exception; the village of Döllersheim, now in ruins, was moved out of the militarised border due to its historic church and cemetery. It is rumoured that Adolf Hitler’s grandmother is buried in the Döllersheim cemetery. Prior to this, nobody was allowed to be in this area, let alone take a picture.
Information gathered from www.doellersheim.at and Britannica