The Legend of Winter on Fuerteventura

The legend of the mysterious German Gustav Winter, who owned the entire peninsula of Jandía and was allegedly a close confidante of Göring, has been around for 80 years. Over the last decades, numerous journalists, historians, and hobby researchers have attempted to uncover the truth behind the rumors of Nazis, submarines, secret bunkers, and stolen gold on Fuerteventura – to no avail. In 2018, the tide will turn, and the secret will be revealed!

According to legend, he first arrived on the Canaries in the 1920’s: Gustav Winter, an engineer from the Black Forest, born in 1893. In Las Palmas on Gran Canaria, he built the power plant CICER. After that, he appeared in Fuerteventura. It is said that he arrived with a suitcase filled with cash – from Göring’s war chest – to purchase land in civil war-torn Spain and construct a military base for the Third Reich, which was actively preparing for war at the time.

Dictator Francisco Franco – who was deeply indebted to Hitler, as he had helped him win the civil war with the Condor Legion – observed this development without lifting a finger, even encouraging the German efforts. In no time, Winter took possession of the peninsula of Jandía in southern Fuerteventura. There was talk of strange events: Fences were put up to isolate the peninsula from the rest of the island. The local residents, the medianeros, were exiled and only allowed to step foot on the area to work in road and harbor construction; they had to leave Jandía by nightfall. It was said that the Germans were in charge there now, stories spread of soldiers, warships, submarines, and gun emplacements. In the northern part of the peninsula, in a godforsaken and inhospitable area next to the shepherd and farming village of Cofete, construction began on an enormous estate that bore more resemblance to a fort than a residential building. The house, which everyone would later merely refer to as “Villa Winter”, is said to have been built on an extended, volcanic cave system, providing a connection to the sea. Allegedly, regular blasting took place in the subterranean caves and jetties were built for German submarines. Names such as Canaris, Himmler, and Dönitz were frequently mentioned.

Apparently, 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. From there, they allegedly set off to affront the Allies in the Atlantic. Thanks to the strict secrecy and the abundant gold reserves that the base was said to possess, its operations continued long after the war. According to legend, war criminals such as Mengele, Bormann, Eichmann, and even Hitler himself are said to have undergone cosmetic surgery to continue their escape to South America without being recognized. Planes and submarines escorted them to Argentina and Antarctica, where the Third Reich also maintained an operational base in fabled New Swabia.

Later, after the last Nazis had been smuggled through, the villa’s operations ceased and, on Franco’s orders, paramilitary units were sent to protect the entire grounds from nosy visitors. After all subterranean passages, bunkers, and facilities had been blown up and thereby all tracks covered, the Winter family sold the entire area to wealthy investors from around the world. First hotels emerged, such as the Casa Atlántica and the Jandía Playa. The area surrounding Cofete was sold to a large company from Gran Canaria, who aimed to develop the region for tourism.

So much for the legend. But what is true and what isn’t? Did they exist on Fuerteventura, the Nazis and the submarines? The secret bunkers and tunnels? In 2015, the Austrian-German author and journalist Alexander Peer embarked on a mission to uncover the secret and spent two years researching the events. He visited archives in Germany, Austria, Spain, Great Britain, France, Switzerland, and the USA, conducted interviews with renowned historians, authors, history professors, journalists, and contemporary witnesses all around the world. His research trips involved dozens of flights, thousands of highway kilometers, and hundreds of working hours. Extensive investigations of previously undiscovered sources brought never before seen files and documents to light that delivered surprising findings. He combed through city, state, and university archives as well as local authorities in all of Germany and Spain, searching for data that would verify astonishing links. Finally, the persistent author succeeded in gaining insight into confidential files. All of the acquired findings provide pieces of the puzzle, which Peer is compiling into a complete picture of this surprising event in his book.

The book MYTHOS WINTER – Die Wahrheit über den deutschen Ingenieur Gustav Oskar Winter (The Myth of Winter – The Truth About the German Engineer Gustav Oskar Winter) will be published in a German, Spanish, and English version in September 2018. Illustrated with numerous images, maps, and photos, it will unveil the secret of the legend of Winter on Fuerteventura …