Sunday, August 17, 2014

Infamous Model Railroaders

Type “famous model railroaders” into Google and you get over 22,000 results.

A number of the links lead to model railroad forums, where people talk about all the famous people who share our hobby.

The most recent celebrity discussion was set off when Rod Stewart visited Central Hobbies in Vancouver after a concert in August. 

As model railroaders, we really seem to like it when famous people share our hobby. Somehow, it seems to validate our enthusiasm for model trains. If they like it, too, it must be OK!

But what about infamous model railroaders? A Google search doesn’t turn up anything. Which is probably a good thing. Who’d like to know that criminals or scandal-ridden politicians like trains?

I can think of one infamous model railroader—very infamous: Hermann Goering.

Goering's attic layout at Carinhall.

Yes, that Hermann Goering, head of the Luftwaffe in World War Two and heir-apparent to Hitler at the end of the War.

IMPORTANT CAVEAT: In no way does this blog post condone or promote Nazi Germany, Goering or anything related to Nazism. I am simply reflecting on his interest in model railroading.

Goering owned two layouts in his East Prussian country estate, called Carinhall. One was located in the attic, one was in the basement. Both were destroyed when he blew up the building before its capture by the advancing Russian forces.

Showing his layout to guests.

Only a few items seem to have survived; a few buildings that date from between 1933-45. Click here to read an article from Bloomberg news about them. 

One person who has done a lot of research into Goering’s fascination with model trains is Paul Deardorff of Marklin Stop. 

The basement layout. 

According to Deardorff, Goering's two layouts were by Marklin. Apparently, one of the layouts had a miniature airplane that “flew” over the layout and dropped wooden bombs.

Again, no promotion of or apology for Goering or the Nazis is intended—just a note about what might be a little-known and more infamous aspect of our hobby.

Operating one of his layouts.

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