On 22 September 1934, Himmler officially took over the Wewelsburg in a large ceremony. The Völkischer Beobachter, in reporting on the event, while mentioning the Germanic and historic past of the region, emphasized the educational aspects.
For a very prosaic reasons – to implement his plans (whatever they actually were) Himmler needed money. In 1934, the SS was not nearly as powerful (or as well-financed) as it would become years later so he had no other choice but to apply for a government grant.
Obviously, the local government (of the government district of Minden) would have never agreed to finance the occult project. But it would agree to provide a grant to finance the education project (even if it was the SS education project).
Himmler’s request was granted and by the end of the year he received 112,000 Reichsmarks that allowed him to begin transformation of Wewelsburg into… something. Ultimately, this project will cost millions.
In 1936 (when the initial grant apparently ran out), Himmler founded in 1936 the “Gesellschaft zur Förderung und Pflege deutscher Kulturdenkmäler e.V.” (Association for the advancement and maintenance of German cultural relics). He used it to obtain grants, donations and loans to finance this increasingly expensive project. Ultimately, the project will cost 15 million Reichsmark – a princely sum in the Third Reich.
Education project, obviously, was a ruse. A cover. SS Reichsfuhrer had no intention to establish any “SS Leadership School” in Wewelsburg. Instead, he started to create something that looked like a research center – complete with study rooms, conference halls, extensive library, etc.
Every study room received a name such as Gral (“Grail”), König Artus (“King Arthur”), König Heinrich (“King Henry”), Heinrich der Löwe (“Henry the Lion”), Widukind, Christoph Kolumbus (“Christopher Columbus”), Arier (“Aryan”), Jahrlauf (“course of the seasons”), Runen (“runes”), Westfalen (“Westphalia”), Deutscher Orden (“Teutonic Order”), Reichsführerzimmer (“Room of the Empires Leader(s)”); Fridericus (probably in reference to Frederick II of Prussia), tolle Christian (probably referring to Christian the Younger of Brunswick, Bishop of Halberstadt), and Deutsche Sprache (“German language”).
Research to be conducted supposedly included Germanic pre- and early history, medieval history, folklore and genealogy (among other subjects), all intended to provide the underpinnings for the racial teachings of the SS.
But the more important (and very visible) kind of research was archaeology. More specifically, archaeological excavations in and around the castle. In fact, Wewelsburg became the center of archaeological excavations in the whole Paderborn region.
Excavations were led by Wilhelm Jordan and Wilhelm Teudt (a German cleric and völkisch lay archaeologist who believed in an ancient, highly developed Germanic civilization). Consequently, the fundamental objective of these digs was to find the remains (or at least traces) of this civilization. However, despite extensive excavations, no remains or traces were ever found.
Initially, all modifications and extensions in the castle were done by the civilians of FAD (Voluntary Labor Service) and RAD (Reich Labor Service). However it was deemed too expensive to pay civilian workers when cheap slave labor became available.
Consequently, starting from 1939 inmates from Sachsenhausen and Niederhagen concentration camps (the latter was established specifically to supply slave labor for construction work in Wewelsburg) were used as laborers to perform much of the work on the project. Of the 3900 prisoners held during the latter camp’s existence, 1285 died of typhus and 56 were executed.
According some (unconfirmed) reports, Wewelsburg was the site where important SS ceremonies (swearing-in, weddings, infant baptisms) took place. As well as periodic meetings of high-level SS generals (Gruppenfuhers and Obergruppenfuhrers).
However, only one of these meetings was ever documented. It was held from 12 to 15 June 1941 – and thus ended exactly one week before the beginning of Operation Barbarossa – the invasion of the Soviet Union. Invasion that triggered the “hot phase” of the existential war with Bolshevism. What was said and decided at that meeting remains a mystery to this day.
In 1938, Himmler ordered the return of all “death’s head rings” of dead SS-men and officers. They were to be stored in a chest in the Wewelsburg castle – to symbolize the ongoing membership of the deceased in the SS-Order. By the end of the war, approximately 11,500 rings have been collected. After the SS abandoned the castle, the rings simply disappeared to be never heard of again.
Since 1939, all Wewelsburg activities were covered with a thick veil of secrecy. That year, Himmler forbade publishing anything about the castle. In the middle of the 1930s, Himmler had a private safe mounted in the basement of the west tower. Only the commandant of the castle knew about it. What was inside the safe and where it went after the castle was abandoned by the SS is unknown.
The most secret and mysterious activities took place in the North Tower (at the tip of the “Wewelsburg spear”). Activities that were very closely connected to the ultimate plans that Heinrich Himmler had for the castle.
To making it the Mittelpunkt der Welt – the Center of the World.