3rd Reich Tourism for NeoNazis on the Rise
When Americans plan their vacations to foreign lands, they may think of some tropical paradise like Fiji. Or how about taking in some European castles? Perhaps a look at the splendors of China’s Forbidden City? But there are other options if you want to go international. In particular, what about a 10-day tour of southern Germany that hits all of Adolf Hitler’s favorite spots, like the famous Eagle’s Nest built by the führer’s private secretary, Martin Bormann, for his 50th birthday?If a pro-Hitler itinerary like that is to your liking, then a Sharkhunters International tour is for you. The Hernando, Fla.-based outfit, which you can join for a fee in return for certain benefits, fetishizes the Nazis and U-boat history, taking its travelers to the hidden gems of the Third Reich.
To advertise its southern Germany tour, Sharkhunters says: “Adolf Hitler really loved the Bavarian Alps and eventually, under the direction of Martin Bormann, an entire sicherheitsdienstzone (security zone) was constructed atop the Obersalzberg [a mountainside Nazi retreat near Berchtesgaden].” If you join the Sharkhunters tour, you get to see where Nazi high officials — Bormann, Hitler, Albert Speer (who was an architect who designed several prominent Nazi buildings), and others — “had nice homes built.” The tour also takes you to “the very tunnel where Hermann Göring, chief of the Luftwaffe and a high-ranking member of the Third Reich, hid his train filled with art treasures and who knows what else in preparation for his escape to Salzburg.” You’ll even get a look at Hitler’s favorite rock in the Obersee.
If Bavaria doesn’t suit your Hitlerian interests, there’s always the Sharkhunters tours to northern Germany. There, visitors get to take in such sights as the Wolf’s Lair, which was Hitler’s Eastern Front military headquarters, the place where the invasion of Russia was planned. And you get to see Nazi minister of propaganda Joseph Goebbels’ former home. Or maybe you would rather take a gander at what Argentina has in store for a Nazi-lover because, as the Sharkhunters website says, South America “had a love affair with the Third Reich.” That Sharkhunters trip will take you to the places where prominent Nazis supposedly hid out after the war.
Who, exactly, are these Sharkhunters?
Harry Cooper, now 70, started the group in 1983, professing a love of U-boats and World War II history, and it has been offering tours since 1987. It sells all kinds of Nazi-related memorabilia — like Hitler girlfriend Eva Braun’s home movies — and publishes a newsletter, KTB Magazine, that reports on submarine research. Today, the organization claims 7,700 members in 76 countries.
Cooper denies that Sharkhunters glorifies the Nazis or is driven by anti-Semitism. “We’re nonpolitical,” he insisted in an interview with the Intelligence Report, adding, without a trace of irony, that his best friend is Jewish. When asked why his tours and website are so focused on Nazi history from the Nazi point of view, Cooper said, “It’s a field that I’m interested in, the warfare.” He added, “Now if I was studying the history of the Romans, would you call me a Roman?”
But the evidence contradicts his claims.
Advertisements for Sharkhunters tours have run regularly in wildly pro-Nazi, anti-Semitic publications. Cooper has counted prominent neo-Nazis, leading anti-Semites, Holocaust deniers, foreign extremist leaders, and even unrepentant members of the Third Reich among his friends, associates and members. His advisory board includes a prominent former member of a leading American neo-Nazi group. He’s enjoyed a friendly dinner with neo-Nazi and former Klan leader David Duke, and spoken at a major Holocaust denial conference. Harry Cooper, the “nonpolitical” tour guide of Nazi Germany, even wears a ring emblazoned with a swastika.