On our last trip to Fuerteventura (March 2013) we hired a 4 x 4 (Тоета Landcruiser) to explore those hard to reach places, and one place that stood out as being immensely interesting and intriguing was Villa Winter (above) near Cofete. It is quite a bumpy track from the outskirts of Morro Jable to Cofete. The building is massive, two stories high, and very run down with a round tower that seems to want to look out to sea. The coat of arms, apparently of the Winter family, is above the main entrance at the rear with a wooden crocodile head. At the time the building was occupied by an old woman, silent, just passing the time of day really.
The history, and supposition about this story makes really interesting reading.
Gustav Winter (born in 1893 at Neustad in the Black Forest) set up a ‘technical studio’ in Madrid in 1921, and in 1924 founded the CICER electricity plant in Las Palmas, which opened in 1928.
In the 30’s he came to Morro Jable. Just before he came, he signed a contract in Spain to lease the whole of the Jandian peninsula. He became a very important person in Morro Jable, building a school, church and started a road (not finished according to our 4 x 4 !)
He assisted in the development of Morro Jable harbour as we see it now — you can tell it is man-made, and tried to develop agriculture on the mountains (the thousands of pine trees planed on Pico del Zarza, Fuerteventura’s highest point, all died)
He was known as Don Gustavo locally, and on 19 July 1937 signed the lease of the peninsula from the Conde de Santa Coloma based in Lanzarote.That same year, Winter went to Berlin to get funding. From 1939 locals were not allowed to enter the peninsula as, due to the Hitler-Franco friendship, the Jandia peninsular was declared a military zone.
In July and August 1938 Winter explored the peninsula to photograph and map his findings on a German fishing boat Richard Ohlrogge, with the intention of ‘creating a deep sea fishing centre’
The road was built by prisoners of war from the concentration camp at Tefia, which was later the islands main airport. These men worked tirelessly, and were allegedly buried on the beach — see below. These same men in 1946 built the Villa under strict secrecy. Around the villa are parts of railway tracks — I’ve yet to see them, which suggests that much work was done, in this very remote area.
This brings us to quite a few questions and theories :
Evidence of Fuerteventura being having a submarine base due to it’s position in the Atlantic during WW2.
The tower — why need that in your villa. — acting as a look out to the sea and impending aircraft landings at the nearby airfield.
The possible theory of undermountain tunnels, dug into the extinct volcanoes, for a U boat base — some say there are still 2 in there.
In the 70’s an Austrian/Spanish team went to investigate if these tunnels existed — their boat blew up allegedly !
The large size of the tower’s fuse box would suggest that big electrical equipment was in the tower at some stage.
It has been suggestd that the SS leaders, by the end of the war knowing they had been naughty. arrived here by U boat, plastic surgery performed to change their identity and flown off to say South America, perhaps Argentina, where Peron was sympathetic with Hitler.
Winter died in 1971 at Las Palmas, and has left us with several mysteries which I am really very curious about. What do you think ?
Any input, although I’m new to this forum stuff, there is a link to a forum I have set up -feel free to share your thoughts and views.