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Geheimhaven was a secret Nazi supply base located on an otherwise unnamed deserted island north of the Greek island of Crete. German Command gave it its code-name, meaning "secret haven," as a result of it possessing a secret submarine pen carved from one of the island's many caves, a reconnaissance base, and an advanced supply center. The base was commanded by Captain Mohler.[1]


A secret[2] nameless island[3] was originally inhabited only by a small goat flock, making it ideal for secret operations.[1] The island included,[4] at the top of a mountain,[5] the Tabernacle, an ancient Phoenician shrine[6] consisting of a primitive[7] altar with stone steps leading up to it.[4] The Germans built a U-boat pen and supply base beneath the island's western cliffs, and positioned camouflaged anti-aircraft guns, small supply dumps, and concealed observation posts around the island itself.[1]

The Germans also constructed a small dock in a secluded harbor designed to resemble a minor fisherman's quay on the eastern shore of Geheimhaven. Several soldiers, disguised as Greek fishermen, guarded the dock from a nearby shack.[1]


Submarine dock at Geheimhaven.

After boarding the tramp freighter Bantu Wind and recovering the Ark of the Covenant from Indiana Jones, the Nazi expedition led by Colonel Herman Dietrich brought the artifact to Geheimhaven to examine its contents before taking it to Berlin for presenting it to Adolf Hitler. At the insistence of French archaeologist René Emile Belloq, an altar was established on the highest point on the island. As the Ark was being taken to it, the procession was interrupted by Jones, who threatened to destroy the ancient artifact but Belloq called his bluff, and he was captured.[4]

With Jones and Marion Ravenwood bound to a stake at the altar that night, Belloq began the Jewish ritual for opening the Ark. To the dismay of Belloq and Dietrich, there appeared to be nothing more than sand within it; all that was left of the Ten Commandments. However, their outrage was soon replaced with wonder as spirits flew up from within the artifact only to become terror as the spirits changed their gentle countenances into hideous ones, and the holy fires of the Ark struck dead the entourage of Nazi soldiers then dissolved Belloq, Dietrich, and the Gestapo agent Toht. A firestorm swept the dead into the sky, and the night calmed as the Ark shut itself, leaving Jones and Marion, who had kept their eyes shut during the inferno, to escape Geheimhaven with the Ark and return with it to the United States.[4]

Behind the scenes[]

Geheimhaven scenes were filmed in separate locations. The overview that island was filmed in West Martin Island from San Pablo. The submarine dock was filmed in a real Nazi base in La Rochelle from France which was abandoned since World War II,[8] while the landscape was filmed in canyon of Tunisia where it was filmed in Star Wars IV: A New Hope too.[9] To film the arrival of the German submarine at the base the visual effects artists at Industrial Light & Magic borrowed a miniature prop from Steven Spielberg’s 1979 film, 1941. The model was floated through San Francisco Bay towards one of the two Marin Islands just off the shoreline from ILM's then-headquarters in San Rafael. The real-world-island was later replaced with a matte painting.[10]



Notes and references[]

  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 Raiders of the Lost Ark Sourcebook
  2. Topps-Logo Raiders of the Lost Ark trading cards (Card: The Arrival of The Ark)
  3. Lucasfilm Defining Moments: A Brush with History on (backup link on
  4. 4.0 4.1 4.2 4.3 Raiders of the Lost Ark
  5. Topps-Logo Indiana Jones Heritage trading cards (Card: Belloq's Challenge to Indy)
  6. Indiana Jones: The Ultimate Guide
  7. Topps-Logo Raiders of the Lost Ark trading cards (Card: The Way to the Altar)
  8. "Robert Watts: Not only was the sub there, but there was a Second World War German submarine pen, complete, even to the graffiti on the walls. It was still there from the Second World War, so it was almost a set in existence. - Indiana Jones: Making the Trilogy
  9. "Robert Watts: Tunisia is a much easier place to shoot. And we'd been there before, so I knew the the country. We found the site for the Tanis digs right in the area we shot Star Wars. The canyon where Indy is above and they've got the Ark is the canyon where R2-D2 is taken by the Jawas in Star Wars. It's exactly the same location. - Indiana Jones: Making the Trilogy
  10. Lucasfilm Inside the World of Indiana Jones on (backup link on