An eerie Canary Islands villa is at the centre of bizarre claims it was once a secret clinic where on-the-run Nazis – including Adolf Hitler – underwent facial reconstruction at the end of World War II.
Casa Winter, which sits on volcanic rock on Fuerteventura’s rugged southern tip, is also rumoured to have been used to help co-ordinate deadly U-boat attacks on allied ships in the Atlantic Ocean.
The coastal property’s tower is even said to have served as a bearing point for German warplanes landing at a nearby airfield.
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And, according to legend, high-ranking war criminals such as Martin Bormann, Josef Mengele and even Hitler himself were said to have undergone secret surgery at the isolated villa after “faking” their deaths.
They were then rumoured to have been whisked away to South America to start their new lives while evading justice for their horrific war crimes.
Intelligence experts have long explored the possibility that Hitler could have escaped unharmed from his Berlin bunker to take refuge overseas.
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History is now satisfied Hitler died when he shot himself as the allies closed in around him in 1945 – but rumours of his survival and escape persisted for decades.
Probes were launched into theories that instead of ending his life in his fortified bunker, he may have faked his own death in order to escape justice – with reports of “sightings” of Hitler as late as 1955.
One declassified British intelligence document claims that a Luftwaffe pilot flew Hitler out of Berlin on April 29, 1945 – the day before he was thought to have killed himself alongside his wife Eva Braun.
Hitler had planned to build a new Reich in South America after his hopes for Nazi domination of Europe were thwarted by the Allies.
And many believe Casa Winter was key to that twisted plan.
Inside the creepy hideaway is a white tiled room which looks just like an operating theatre which could have been used for plastic surgery, according to current resident Pedro Fumero.
He told documentary makers for the show Secret Nazi Bases, which airs in Australia on SBS, how his relatives helped build the villa.
“They used to tell me stories of military men arriving,” Mr Fumero said.
He said there was a landing strip on a nearby beach and believes caves beneath the vast building once housed Nazi subs.
It’s claimed these secret subterranean bunkers offered space to supply and maintain German submarines during World War II, out of sight of the Royal Air Force’s reconnaissance planes.
The biggest spaces inside the building itself are in the solid basement, with walls around 2m thick – making them bomb proof.
Several rooms have no windows, including one tunnel-like space which runs the length of the house with just a small window at one end.
“The house has a bunker, prison cells, an autopsy table and crematorium-style ovens,” Mr Fumero said.
“The walls are so thick they are strong enough to withstand an impact.”
The mysterious castle-like property was built by Gustav Winter, a German engineer who made his fortune building power plants in Argentina and elsewhere around the world.
It is said he arrived on the island in the 1930s on a mission to build the fortress-like home after asking the Nazi Party for cash to fund the project.
Locals were later banned from going near the site after it was declared a “military zone” in a deal struck between Hitler and Spanish dictator General Franco.
Winter denied the dark claims about the villa right up until his death, and in an interview with the German magazine Stern in 1971 insisted it wasn’t finished being built until after the war.
However, some still believe a number of notorious Nazis arrived on the island to have plastic surgery after the fall of the Third Reich before heading to Brazil and Argentina.
“I am sure Gustav Winter was provisioning German submarines,” Mr Fumero added, citing wartime reports and some of his own findings.
“Why would you build a tower like this on top of what is essentially a bunker? This was never a house meant for enjoyment.”
However, one man who has spent five years looking into the rumours surrounding the home claims many of them are just that.
Alex Peer has scoured the Winter family archives to determine what the house was really built for and what – if any – links the engineer had to the Nazi Party.
In his new book Mythos Winter (“The Myth of Winter”)he claims although there “is no smoke without fire”, all is not as it seems.
“This place has an extremely special spirit,” he told the Sun Online.
“There is a strange energy surrounding the villa.
“However, many of the rumours surrounding the home are just not true.”
He pointed out there was no evidence plastic surgery had been practised there, no doctor is known to have been there and says the alleged room for surgery in the villa was just a kitchen.
Mr Peer, who lives in Salzburg, Austria, claimed the villa was actually built to be a family home but Winter’s second wife refused to move there because it was too isolated.
However, he understood why the property has been dogged by dark rumours as its owner did approach the Nazi Party to ask for the cash needed to build it.
“Every legend has some truth,” he said. “Winter did contact Hermann Göring who ran the Ministry of Economy (for funding) but he was not a spy, he was an engineer.
“It is not a secret, that Hitler, Göring, and Erich Raeder (Commander in Chief of the German Navy) wanted to establish a base in the Atlantic region, preferably on the Canary Islands.
“And Göring must have thought it was Christmas when Winter told him about his plans to build on Fuerteventura.”
However, Mr Peer says Gustav Winter’s motive for developing on the Canary Islands was innocent.
“It was no secret he was looking to build something on the island so it’s not surprising that, considering his links to the Nazi party, these rumours started to emerge,” he said.
This article originally appeared on The Sun and was reproduced with permission