Fact or fiction ?

VILLA WINTER

 

 

Wikipedia sums up the details but I would like to expand on this fascinating tale.

Villa Winter is a villa situated near the village Cofete, on the peninsula Jandía in the southwestern part of the island of Fuerteventura, Canary Islands. The villa was realised by Gustav Winter, a German engineer born in 1893 in the Black Forest. It was built in 1937 and has two floors, a tower in the northwestern part of the villa and a balcony in the front.

Gustav Winter worked since 1915 for Spain and was active in different projects in Fuerteventura and Gran Canaria. The villa is built in a remote part of the island with only a dust track leading to it. The history of the villa is the subject of several conspiracy theories, often involving Nazis. The main conspiracy theories surround the fact that the villa had a tower turret with an electric lantern installed, similar to a lighthouse and that they were using the villa's makeshift lighthouse to signal German U-boats.

 

If we look at the map above, I have tried to show where things lie in relation to each other. The Villa was built right in front of the highest point on the island, directly facing the remotest beach and in direct line of Atlantic Ocean traffic which would be passing during WWII - perhaps the giant tower with look-out windows may be a clue !

  

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QUESTION : Who built it  ?

It is said that the road to Cofete and the villa itself was built by locals or prisoners but (I'm still looking for the article again) I read that prisoners (mainly homosexuals - banned in Franco's time) were brought down from Tefia (see below), and worked until they died and buried on the beach, although many sources say the 'graveyard' on the beach was used for locals - having visited this site (very sad experience) I am very sceptical about that as the roads weren't built until perhaps 1940, so how come so many locals ended up so sadly in unmarked 'graves' although there is a plaque at the entrance - please correct me if there's any doubts.

QUESTION : When was it built ?

According to the above Winter claimed it was built in 1958, yet most information and locals claim 1937 and local documents claim 1946 but Pedro states it dates much earlier - 1939, which seems odd - I know my house was built in 1927 and there is much paperwork to say so - this was only in the 30's or 40's so there must be proof somewhere - was Winter saying 1958 to distant himself from any Nazi connections ?

By now most of you will have gathered that we love Fuerteventura, so March 2013 when staying at Magic Life near Jandia, we hired a Suzuki Jimny to explore the mysterious Villa Winter (it was spooky !) It lies on the other side of Pico de la Zarza. Please treat this as a forum and contact me to add or deny stories at blidworthsteve9@gmail.com
Our 'Battle Bus' for the day - a very bumpy ride as roads were more like dirt tracks and a few photos of Cofete I took.

 

COFETE

It's a bumpy ride to Cofete by car but on foot it’s more direct if you feel inclined !
 

The village, (or hamlet) only has a population of  about 30 with no shops but now, 1 restaurant, Restaurante Cofete Pepe El Faro

The beach  is known as ‘the loneliest place in Spain’.

It’s located about 5km from the south-west tip of the island and with no access to the northern side of the beach, you can only enter by crossing through the Jandia Nature Park from Morro Jable.

This beach receives very few visitors. Not only as it’s so hard to reach, but also due to the wind, which makes swimming inadvisable (in fact, drowning deaths are an all-too-frequent occurrence every year)
                  

There is really nothing else in the area except: Villa Winter, which in my mind raises some questions.

A statue of the Pastor of Fuerteventura and his dog (it is widely believed that this is a sculpture of Gustav Winter and his dog, but Pedro Fumero has told me personally that it is not,)  which has been vandalised (why?)https://statues.vanderkrogt.net/object.php?webpage=ST&record=esca354
QUESTION  : Knowing how remote Cofete is - no proper roads or utilities etc. why would anybody build such an imposing building as this ? 
As a side note, the concentration camp in Tefia, now a hostel ( Albergue Juvenil de Tefia), wasn't built until 1954 so that doesn't tie with the above. A great read by Isobel Blackthorn describes the  Colonia Agrícola Penitenciaria de Tefía as it was known  'Prison in the sun'

Also furthur reading can be found at: https://es.wikipedia.org/wiki/Colonia_Agrícola_Penitenciaria_de_Tefía

                                                     GUSTAV WINTER

Gustav-Oskar Winter Klinge was born May 10th 1893 in Zastler in the Black Forest, close to Freiburg.
 

During World War I, he lived in Rio Cuarto, Argentina in 1913 and in 1914 he married his first wife, Johanna and on his return was intercepted in the English Channel and imprisoned at Southampton prison.

He escapes and joins the 'Hollandia' ship
 

In 1915, Gustav Winter arrived in Spain via England. He completed his technical training and began working on diverse technical projects in Spain.
 

In 1926 he arrived in Gran Canaria and was known as Don Gustavo
 

In 1928, Winter built the power plant CICER on Las Palmas de Gran Canaria, which opened in October 1928. During his time working on
Gran Canaria, Gustav Winter also visited Lanzarote and Fuerteventura and was fascinated by the Jandía peninsula.

In 1937, Winter was given the opportunity of leasing Jandía and made plans to industrialize it. He initially
wanted to construct a cement factory, followed by a fish factory, but as war broke out, neither happened. Winter sorted out a lease contract with the heirs of Conde de Santa Coloma in Burgos for the entire peninsula of Jandía.

In the same year, he travelled to Berlin to raise the necessary financial contribution
for his project from Hermann Göring.

Between July and August 1938, he went on an expedition on board the ship “Richard Ohlrogge”, to explore Jandia area, take
photos, and create maps. Rumors of the establishment of a secret submarine base on Fuerteventura began to surface.

 

From 1940 to 1944, Winter worked at a German navy ship harbor in France. In the meantime, the Jandía peninsula was
blocked off from the rest of the island of Fuerteventura, with the only access point secured by a gate and armed guards.

 

On October 23, 1940, a meeting took place between Adolf Hitler and Francisco Franco. Hitler showed interest in
building a base on the Canary Islands, but Franco declined after Hitler failed to fulfil his own demands.

 

Between March and July of 1941, six German submarines were proven to have received supplies at the Las Palmas harbor
from the ship Corrientes: U-124, U-105, U-106, U-123, U-69, U-103.

 

In 1941, a notary certified a sales contract for the Jandía peninsula. Ownership was signed over to three Spanish natives.
The name of their company was “Dehesa de Jandía S.A.”. Administrator: Gustav Winter.

 

In 1945, Gustav Winter and Elisabeth Althaus met in Madrid.
 

In 1946, inmates of the concentration camp in Tefía began building roads in Jandía (not really possible as it didn't open until 1954)
 

In 1948, Gustav Winter and Elisabeth Althaus relocated to Fuerteventura when he ordered the Jandia peninsular to be fenced off (says above 1940-44) and watched by armed guards. He settled in Morro Jable.Gustav Winter created the Casas de Jorós tomato plantations, had wells built, and attempted to reforest the mountains of Jandía.
 

Around 1950, the Jandía peninsula experienced several days of explosions, following which Villa Winter emerged in its current form after receiving approval for an expansion.
 

In 1962, the Dehesa de Jandía S.A. transferred all of Jandía to Gustav Winter, as compensation for developing the peninsula.
 

In an interview with the German magazine Stern in 1971, Gustav Winter claimed that he hadn’t built the villa until late 1958.
 

In November 1971, Winter died in Las Palmas aged 78.
 

In 1997, a journalist and investigator,found the list of 104 suspected German spies that the Allies demanded to be repatriated, (of which - 'surprise,surprise' 'Gustav baby !' was on number 11 on that  list)  who were hiding throughout Spain - none were handed over, Many sought refuge in Spanish homes, whilst others remained hidden under the protection of the Church and fled to South America.
 

The heirs of the villa began renovating it in 1985. Up until the early 1990’s, a private security company shielded the
villa from curious visitors. The Gran Canaria-based construction company Lopesan S.A. has owned the villa since 1996.

QUESTION : What was it built for ?

I certainly don't think Herr Winter wanted it as his holiday home, but what did he have it built for. My feeling, which matches many others is that it would provide multiple uses. Let's examine some of these uses.

The picture on the left shows how remote and isolated the villa is - it's in the far distance in front of the highest point of Fuerteventura, Pico de la Zarza and directly facing the Atlantic Ocean. The photo on the right hows it's 'turret' which to me, is more like a watch tower - why would such a building be built if nobody is going to live in it ?

I have tried to give some idea as to the scale and remoteness of the area
The cemetary and plaque on the beach
1. The 'look-out tower' would provide excellent all-round surveillance directly to the Atlantic ocean where much U-Boat activity was happening during WWII

2. Within the villa is a massive fuse box (I've seen it) and this would not be there just to light up the building, but possibly surveillance lights and supply for U-Boats which were in the caves blown into the side of the mountain. An Austrian-Spanish team decided to investigate these caves but lost their lives when their boat blew up  - this is what films are made of !

3. There is an area within the villa which has been allegedly designated for surgical work -rumours of high level Nazi criminals (Eichmann, Mengele ADOLF ? etc.) having surgical disguising and then flying to S America are rife. They mainly went to Argentina as Juan Peron was always sympathetic to their cause and aided by the church developed 'Rat Lines' for their escape via Spain and Italy.

4. The villa was close to a runway (by design) which the outline still exists which would  tie in with number 3

RESPECT TO PEDRO FUMERO AND HIS FAMILY

 

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4LQ9aYQk1DA

Take a look at a low level fly over of the Winter Airstrip - can't see a 747 taking off from here !

    



Pedro Fumero and his uncle Agustín (Tin) currently reside in the villa, a family that has been linked to the town for more than 70 years. First his grandfather
Rafael Matos worked on it, then her uncles Pepe, Agustín and Rosa Matos Viera, and now Pedro and her uncle 'Tin'. They wage the last battle
at the house and face an eviction order from the current owners, the Lopesan group, after being abandoned for 20 years. Fumero explains that
they are waiting for the eviction court order.
In the mansion there are signs of shrapnel or bullets on the outside, an old Krupp wagon, transmitters, test tubes and the remains of torpedoes.
Pedro says ”. “I have opened closed doors, I have seen underground passageways, I found
test tubes and laboratory objects, it housed a communication system and from above you can clearly see the aerodrome built around it.
In addition, on the beach a lid that conceals something appears sealed with cement, I think it still reaches the house and many
neighbours assure that there were explosions during its construction ”
"It seems that the Winter sold the farm to Lopesan without informing my family of anything, despite the fact that my uncles have left their lives taking care of this property,
but since they were disabled they took away their cattle, their rights and do not want to give them a hard. For years, the Winter paid
40,000 pesetas to my uncle Pepe, then they stopped paying and allowed them to stay, but now nobody supports us, "

The Winter family sold the house around 1997 to Lopesan, who apparently intends to turn it into a small hotel, despite being located in
the heart of a natural park  absolutely ridiculous idea. According to Fumero, "it is said that underground tunnels and dark rooms were built, which would be accessed by small hidden doors in the walls, where those soldiers who were trying to avoid the scars produced by the light after undergoing cosmetic operations were hidden, not to
be recognized after the war; dungeons where once there were shackles and chains for various tortures, cremation ovens, boarded doors,
numerous rooms, a large electrical box, and different decorative elements of great value with which it was intended to support the theory
that the villa was an officer's residence Germans ”.
                                                                              

Good luck Pedro

 

I had trouble defining the airstrip from the ground, but it is very obvious from  Google Earth  (my map above points to it's whereabouts)  

Pedro Fumero
Pedro's family,José, Rafael, Agustín, and Rosa Matos Viera
Rosa, who we did see when we visited.