Vogelsang Military Training Area

Vogelsang Military Training Area (German: Truppenübungsplatz Vogelsang) lay in the German North Eifel hills between the villages of Simmerath, Heimbach and Schleiden in the state of North Rhine-Westphalia. It was established in 1946 and handed back at the end of 2005, and consisted of the grounds of the former Nazi leadership training centre in the fort of Vogelsang (Ordensburg Vogelsang) on the Erpenscheid hill[1] plus additional terrain including the so-called Dreiborn Plateau. In the north and east it was bounded by the Urft Reservoir. The training area had an area of around 45 km2 and since 1 January 2006 has been fully incorporated into the Eifel National Park.[2] Until 1950 the training area was run by the British armed forces and thereafter until 31 December 2005 by the Belgian military.

Vogelsang Military Training Area
Destroyed building in the planned village of Vogelsang on the tank training area

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View from the Nazi Ordensburg of Vogelsang into the valley

The basis of the subsequent military training area was the Nazi Ordensburg Vogelsang. This training centre is the second largest relic of Nazi infrastructure in Germany by area after their party congress site in Nuremberg and covered an area of some 100 hectares. The buildings under heritage conservation alone cover a gross floor area of more than 50,000 square metres.

The mighty fort with its “comradeship houses” (Kameradschaftshäuser)

After the end of the Second World War, in early 1946, the British Military Government considered for a while tearing down this prominent symbol of Nazism. In September 1946 the British commandeered 42 square kilometres of land around the fort as a military training area, ejecting the population of the nearby village of Wollseifen in doing so. In 1950 the British handed over the Vogelsang Training Area to the Belgian Armed Forces.However, under the terms of the transfer of ownership British Armed Forces continued to use the Camp. Offering a mix of military and outdoor pursuits for a period of around 2 weeks. It was a popular destination for British Troops as an alternative to base barracks life. Under the Drawdown of British Forces from Germany, in the 1990’s the camp was closed to British Army troops.

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