Marklin at Carinhall: Hermann Goring’s Miniature Railway
Much has been discussed about Hermann Goring’s miniature trains: how did he get them? how many trains did he have? where have the trains gone? In this article all of these questions will be discussed even though many of the questions will remain unanswered. Thanks to many months of research, incredible photos and documents were discovered relating to Hermann Goring’s railways and his house at Carinhall where they were contained. Research proved that many individual sources (books, magazine articles, etc.) were not all 100% accurate but that the information would only make sense when all of these smaller sources were put together and analyzed as a whole. It is my hope that this article will become the basis for further research to be done on this topic.
It is first important to understand that Hermann Goring, the commander of the Luftwaffe (German air force during WWII) and Reichsmarschall of the German forces, was a rather corpulent and certainly gregarious man. He made every effort to dramatize a situation and blur the details in order to make himself look all the better in the eyes of his admirers. As a self proclaimed top ace in WWI, Hermann Goring won countless medals for downing an incredible amount of enemy planes and in some stories, Goring supposedly was able to take on a French bomber all on his own. It was later found in his personal diaries that many of these accounts of incredible heroism and courage were ill-founded and in many cases entirely untrue and fraught with embellishments. This characteristic of Goring is very important to take into account when analyzing documents and other pieces of information which come from him alone and are not corroborated by other sources.
Goring also had a special liking for antiques and other priceless historical artifacts including Greek statues, Rembrandt paintings, art sculptures, and more. Most of these pieces were acquired (stolen) when German forces attacked a city. Special teams would be in charge of looting museums, libraries, and private collections and then taking an inventory of all the items to be dispersed across the Nazi chain of command. Many of these items ended up in Goring’s Carinhall, his summer hunting retreat located just northeast of Berlin. The cabin, modeled after a Swiss hunting lodge, underwent many renovations and expansions during its existance from roughly 1933 – 1945.
As it so happens, Carinhall also housed Goring’s extensive model railway…model railways, that is. Yes, it is widely known that Goring had both Trix and Marklin railways, but many publications neglect to observe that Goring had two Marklin railways; one in his basement and one in his attic. One such book even shows a picture of Goring operating his Marklin O and I Gauge railway and the caption in the book states that this railway was in his attic. However, the differences between the attic railway and the basement layout can clearly be seen (not to mention the structure of the basement / attic — the basement has flat ceilings whereas the attic has sloped ceilings exactly as Carinhall had slanted roofs). The attic layout, which I believe was built first and then expanded into a basement layout, was probably put in place somewhere between 1933 (Carinhall’s initial building date) and 1938 (when this photo was taken).
It is important to note that this is the attic layout because of the sloped ceilings seen at Goring’s left. Goring is wearing his typical outfit for his hunting cabin at Carinhall (vest with white shirt underneath). I date this picture to about 1938 because it if were any time after, Goring would have been wearing his Reichsmarschall uniform which he wore almost exclusively in photos after the date when he was promoted (February, 1938). The above photo also features what looks like the Marklin Rennbahn track on the inner elevated track sitting beside two regular O or I Gauge tracks. The car, however, does not look to be the typical red or white racing cars. Perhaps his Rennbahn system had a custom car / vehicle which went around the tracks. Whatever this vehicle was, it was most likely military-themed and possibly had some kind of weapon attached to it. The sloped ceilings of the attic are seen more clearly in the photo below, but the Rennbahn system is missing, meaning the photo was taken at an earlier date:
The above photo might also be proof to the rumor that Goring had an overhead airplane system which could “bomb” trains below by dropping little wooden bombs at the push of a button. Supposedly he would put on a show for his guests by timing the track below and the plane above such that the little wooden bomb would land on the train. The left side of the photo above shows two wires which run the length of the room above and parallel to the tracks. This wiring would be perfect to string a plane to for a bombing run on the train below. A suitable mechanism for dropping wooden bombs would be an electromagnet on the bomb bay of the airplane which releases the bomb when the current is cut off (by way of a switch on the control panel). This might explain why there are two wires: one to hold the plane and the other to hold the wires which power the electromagnet.
The basement layout which I believe was created after the attic miniature railway was probably slightly larger than the attic layout and certainly became much more developed with elevated rails and a car racing system which was most likely borrowed from the attic layout. Rumor has it that as many as two Marklin employees also worked for an unknown period of time on Goring’s layout. Another first hand account states that the layout was built by Siemens & Halske, an electrical engineering company during that time. The play cellar which house the attic railway was approximately 240 square meters. Because no overall photos of the basement layout exist (as far as I know), I used 3D modeling and animation software to create a reconstruction of Goring’s basement layout. Using Goring’s approximate height (5 ft. 10 in.) and the known square-footage of the basement, the dimensions (Length X Width X Height) of the basement were calculated. Other features of the basement not seen in the historical photos are pure speculation. Whether he had expensive pieces of art or furniture in his basement is not known to me, but it certainly would fit with how the rest of Carinhall was decorated.
What still remains unclear is where this train system and its pieces ended up after Carinhall was abandoned and destroyed in 1945. This is where much of the research turned up blank results: the itemized list of articles removed from Carinhall from workers could not be found, documents detailing the contents of Goring’s private train which was hidden in a tunnel for safety could also not be found, and the present-day grounds of Carinhall are supposedly protected which would circumvent any location research. Museums around the area do have Carinhall exhibits which contain old rusty trains which are literally torn to pieces and said to have been found at the site of the destroyed Carinhall. Others who have visited the site of Carinhall in present day also attest to the fact that train parts lay scattered in the dirt around the area. This does not, however, preclude the possibility of some of the more valuable trains being saved. An equal amount of stories exist which support the survival of some if not all of the train materials from Goring’s collection.
The idea that Goring had special production Marklin trains (e.g. Rheingold livery 40CM cars, 1930s Super-Modelle locomotives specially produced in I Gauge, etc.) still remains in question. It seems that these special order trains would have shown up in the pictures discovered in this article however none of them do. All of the trains pictured in this article are from normal production and typical of the time period in which the photos were taken.
Although this article hopefully presents a clear picture of Hermann Goring’s Marklin miniature railway, many questions still remain unanswered and particularly the most important question still has an unclear answer: where did all the trains end up?
- Figure 1: Göring: A Biography by David Irving; first published February 1989; ISBN: 0688066062
- Figure 2: Die Kunstsammlung des Reichsmarschalls Hermann Göring : eine Dokumentation by Haase, Günther; published 2000
- Figure 3: Hermann Göring Collection (Library of Congress); Hermann Göring’s activities, May-August, 1938, Photoarchiv Generalfeldmarschall Hermann Göring, v. 27, p. 206, no. 6.
- Figure 4: Private photo collection
- Figure 5: Self-made in Google SketchUp 8
- Figure 6: Self-made in Google SketchUp 8
- Figure 7: Private photo collection, photographer probably Walter Frentz who was one of the few photographers to take photos in color of the Nazi high command (he was frequently Hitler’s photographer and cameraman). This photo was also taken by Walter Frentz supposedly in 1945. The same locomotive is featured in that photo.
- Figure 8: RSL, Spiegel TV. exact source unknown. Another reference can be found here.
- Figure 9: Göring: A Biography by David Irving; first published February 1989; ISBN: 0688066062
- Figure 10: Private photo collection
- Der Reichsmarschall im Kriege (Eitel Lange)
- Görings Reich : Selbstinszenierungen in Carinhall (Knopf / Martens )
- Altes Spielzeug (A. Bangert )
- Wer war Hermann Göring : Biographie (Wolfgang Paul)
- Portuguese translation: http://webkits.hoop.la/topic/o-trem-marklin-de-goring
- War History Online: http://www.warhistoryonline.com/war-articles/marklin-carinhall-hermann-gorings-miniature-railway.html