August Bebel Institute (1947 - 1951)

 According to still unconfirmed reports, first Soviet marines and later officers from the American Army are said to have stayed at the villa after the war. The only evidence for the assumption that Soviet marines stayed here is a report from the Berlin Wannsee police station of 2 March 1960. Similarly, the claim that the villa was temporarily used to nurse sick Jewish children from the Berlin-Schlachtensee DP Camp (displaced persons camp) back to health has to date been confirmed by neither UN organisations nor the German or International Red Cross. According to credible accounts by two of those affected, in 1946 orphaned young people were cared for in the villa before being transferred to a home in the Kladow district of Berlin.

In 1946, the property passed into the possession of the municipal authorities of Greater Berlin [former West Berlin], who leased it to the Greater Berlin Social Democratic Party (SPD) on 12 December 1946. The August-Bebel-Institute, founded on 25 March 1947 by five social democrat newspaper editors, set up an educational center in the Wannsee villa.

It was reported on the front page of the 24 February 1947 edition of the newspaper Der Sozialdemokrat (the Social Democrat) that the publishers of the Sozialdemokrat, the Sozialistische Jahrhundert (Socialist Century) and the Telegraf had put up 150,000 Reichsmarks towards setting up the August Bebel Foundation: “With the help of this foundation, a holiday home will be set up at Lake Wannsee, to which an August Bebel Library will also be attached. This will collect all the treasures of international working class literature.”

5-day courses and 2-week seminars were offered on such topics as “Marxism as a Method”, “Socialisation as a Current Endeavour”, “Politics and Propaganda” or “Democracy and Totalitarianism”. Alongside these, the institute ran courses for administrative employees, as well as special courses, sometimes over several days, on economics or social democratic questions, constitutional issues and local politics in Berlin. Course fees were “2 marks a day. All wage earners and salaried employees who earn 25 per cent or more of their pay in West German marks are to pay half of this amount in West German marks.” Among the speakers were Ernst Reuter, Carlo Schmidt, Otto Suhr and many others.

As early as autumn 1951, however, the house had to be given up on financial reasons.