Ancient Nazis and Random Swastika Buildings

Crazy Swastika-Shaped Navy BaseYou may have heard about it by now, but it looks like Atlanta is the secret home to a former Nazi S.S. Agent. Man, just when Hollywood seems to finally be abandoning the very, very tired Nazi-as-arch-villain plot, this happens! Seriously, does anybody else throw up their hands when the secret bad guy in a movie or a TV show turn out to be a really, really old Nazi? Are we that short on plausible villains?

But I digress. 85-year old Paul Henss is said to have been a former guard at a concentration camp, and a trainer of vicious attack/guard dogs and dog handlers. Apparently when he filled out his immigration papers back in 1955, he conveniently forgot to mention his former evil employer. (He has the memory of a politician!) In the video footage I’ve seen, he denies that he had any knowledge of the massacres taking place with his assistance.

The issue being debated now is whether or not to deport Henss back to Germany. It’s a tough call. The guy has lived here for 52 years, and up until now has never been anything but a normal citizen. It’s also possible that he really didn’t do anything intentionally evil as a 19 year old guard. As Henss himself stated, the even the Pope was part of the Hitler youth. It wasn’t exactly something you could avoid back in the day. And well, he’s just old and his poor wife is devastated. The deportation process just might kill him, her or both.

On the other hand, he did lie on his immigration papers. And it’s just as likely he’s at least bending the facts a bit now when he defends what his service entailed. If he really was directly, and knowingly involved with any atrocities, he deserves no sympathy. And it’s not as though he’s being brought up on charges (at least not yet), he’s just being sent home. What do you think?

What I really want to know is how they managed to track down Henss after all these years. As a Law and Order: Criminal Intent junkie, I really want to see the detective work. Heck, I’ll even let Hollywood run with this one, last, secret Nazi story just to find out. (I promise not to throw my hands up in the hair!) Because apparently, even Frau Henss had no idea about his dubious past.

In the process of reading up on this unusual story, I came across something even crazier. And, as you know, I have a weak spot for crazy stuff. It seems that there is a swastika-shaped US Navy base in Coronado, California. Seriously! And get this, the building was built in the sixties! Yep, well after the swastika was firmly established as a symbol of evil in the western world.

Apparently because the design is only visible from the air, it wasn’t deemed to be a problem when they discovered what one hopes was just an unfortunate coincidence. (You can see what it looks like from street level in this picture-happy post.) And it probably would have continued to not be a problem, if it wasn’t for those pesky Google Earth/Maps kids. Now that the secret is out, there are plans in place to alter the buildings to remove the swastika resemblance.

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  1. Tiffany said,

    October 3, 2007 at 11:43 pm

    I have no opinion as yet on the Henss thing, but I’ve been hearing about the swastika Navy base for awhile now, and I think the whole idea of remodeling it is silly. But then, I’m an enlightened American citizen who understands that the swastika has a whole usage BESIDES what the Nazis used it for, so I realize that the symbol in a general sense is far from evil. The Nazis made it evil, and most people only see it in that light and don’t know or don’t bother to look any farther. I know that how I feel about swastikas is in the minority, that the symbol’s history (before Nazism) will have little to no bearing on the eventual decisions that are made. It’s offensive to enough people (who didn’t even realize it was there before), so therefore it must be removed.


  2. Joe Drinker said,

    October 4, 2007 at 12:17 am

    The dumb thing is that the symbol has been around for a thousand years, and now our building has to be remodeled because some whack job made it his logo. It’s like saying the folks who make Bass Ale are Egyptian.

  3. Jason said,

    October 4, 2007 at 2:33 pm

    The Navy is dumb whether or not they redesign that building. I know from experience.

    I would also like to know how and why they tracked that old guy down? Why all the sudden attention? Did he rob a liquor store or something? I bet that the government is going over EVERY immigration application and document in their mad search for “terrorists,” and his raised a red flag because he was from Nazi Germany.

  4. Brian said,

    October 5, 2007 at 5:45 pm

    The funniest part is that they noticed the shape during the design phase of the building, and thought, “meh, what could happen?” And proceeded to build it as designed. I agree, it’s not a big deal, cosmetic work on it now is just a waste of tax payer funds.

    It is a shame that said whack job acquired the symbol. Having spent a few years in Asia myself, I did see it as existed prior to the Nazis. And, I hate to say it, I did a double take then too. I knew of it’s history, but years of associating its meaning with evil had an impact.

    Speaking of Bass Ale and Egyptians, that reminds me of Budweiser successfully keeping the original European Budweiser from using the slogan “The King of Beers,” (or was that “Beer of Kings”?) even though it actually was a beer that was consumed by European monarchs. U.S. Budweiser, on the other hand, can’t actually claim that.

  5. zach said,

    January 26, 2009 at 7:18 am

    Actually, I stayed in that barracks in 2005 when I was attending Basic Reconnaissance Course. There is one building shaped like the swastika. BUT they fail to mention in this article that there are two buildings shaped like airplane bombers “headed” for the swastika building.

  6. Randy said,

    November 11, 2009 at 9:05 pm

    A little jewish boy runs into his house and tells his dad. Dad, dad GIVE me 5 dollars GIVE me 5 dollars. His dad pretends not to hear him. The kid again begs his dad for 5 dollars he says dad dad Give me 5 dollars. Well after a couple minutes the kids yells DAD GIVE ME 5 DOLLARS! The dad lowers his newpaper and says 4 dollars what do you want to barrow 3 dollars for?

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