Ghosts of the Cold War haunt hotel

FRANKFURT Fri Dec 17, 2010 12:30pm EST

An undated file picture shows the central lodge at the Hubertusstock Castle, the former hunting grounds of East German dictator Erich Honecker and top Nazi Hermann Goering. A hotel on the grounds closed earlier this summer and efforts to market the area to tourists have encountered difficulties. REUTERS/Adam Tanner JOH

An undated file picture shows the central lodge at the Hubertusstock Castle, the former hunting grounds of East German dictator Erich Honecker and top Nazi Hermann Goering. A hotel on the grounds closed earlier this summer and efforts to market the area to tourists have encountered difficulties.

Credit: Reuters/Adam Tanner JOH

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FRANKFURT (Reuters) - The Berlin Wall came tumbling down two decades ago, but you can still revel in the rural holiday splendor enjoyed by the man whose iron rule of East Germany crumbled with the collapse of communist power.

Just an hour's drive north of Berlin deep in the woods of eastern Germany, visitors will find a unique blend of communist and feudal spirits alive at the holiday retreat formerly reserved for German Democratic Republic leader Erich Honecker.

Built more than 160 years ago, the Jagdschloss Hubertusstock hotel's (www.hubertusstock.de) premises were once a deer-hunting preserve for German emperors during the 19th century and were later owned by the Nazi government during the Third Reich.

Guests today can still enjoy the atmosphere of a secluded luxury getaway surrounded by an enduring 1960s decor in which Honecker played host to Soviet leader Leonid Brezhnev and haggled with his West German counterparts.

"Back in the day, there was no way you could come even close to the premises, particularly when Erich (Honecker) was here," said Monika Hilbig, 52, a local who works at the hotel, adding that the area used to be guarded by military.

The large main building, decorated with deer heads on the outside and surrounded by broad leafy trees, suggests the flair of baronial hunting culture, but the inside gives a much different impression, featuring the 1960s-style interior.

Honecker used the site for his Christmas and New Year break, but also received notable international guests, including former German chancellor Helmut Schmidt.

"You can still walk through the rooms where he used to sleep and we're offering breakfast in his former living premises."

Honecker's bedroom is virtually untouched, featuring thick swamp-green carpets, Bauhaus-like furniture and green-patterned glazed ornamental tiles on the bathroom walls.

(Editing by Paul Casciato)

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