ack in the 1930s, Adolf Hitler's American sympathizers had big, "bizarre" dreams. They hoped that Germany would triumph in World War II, so they built him a swanky retreat in the hills above Hollywood, where they imagined he would one day mingle with movie stars ... and "rule the world." What would the fascist dictator's Tinseltown hideout have been like? Here, a brief guide:
Wait, Americans actually built Hitler's dream ranch?
Yes. A wealthy couple, Winona and Norman Stephens, who were followers of the Silver Shirts, American supporters of Hitler, had purchased the 55-acre property in 1933 from screen cowboy Will Rogers. Then they struck up correspondence with a German man they knew only as Herr Schmidt. Schmidt, as it turns out, was Hitler's agent in America, who eventually convinced the Stephenses to invest $4 million to turn the property into a fortified palace for Hitler. "This was supposed to be the seat of American fascism from where Hitler would one day rule the United States," says historian Randy Young.
What is the property like?
Today, it's a graffiti-stained ruin. But in the 1930s, it was outfitted with a diesel power plant, a 375,000-gallon concrete water tank, and a giant meat locker — everything a community of Hollywood Nazi sympathisizers figured they'd need to ride out the war and await Hitler's arrival. The property also had a bomb shelter and guards all around. Eventually, the plan was to add libraries, a swimming pool, a gym, and elegant dining rooms. "They may have been Nazis, but they were Nazis with taste," says Young. But the plans fell apart before the U.S. even entered the war.
The day after Pearl Harbor was attacked, police raided the bunker. There were about 50 Silver Shirts living there, and they were all arrested. Local authorities now plan to tear down the ruins — located about a mile from Schindler's List director Steven Spielberg's home — and turn the spot into a picnic area for hikers.
THE WEEK'S AUDIOPHILE PODCASTS: LISTEN SMARTER
- Why is American internet so slow?
- 7 ways to be the most interesting person in any room
- What would a U.S.-Russia war look like?
- Colorado’s new ‘drive high, get a DUI’ commercials are actually pretty clever
- 10 things you need to know today: March 9, 2014
- What the collapse of the Ming Dynasty can tell us about American decline
- Who are the real gay marriage bigots?
- Ukraine's fraught relationship with Russia: A brief history
- 22 TV shows to watch in 2014
- Sorry Belle Knox, porn still oppresses women
Subscribe to the Week