August 6, 2022

Tour Report: Riverside Seventies

In March of 2019, we took a few days vacation to go on a short tour. Our first stop was our good friend Jens' place in the Harz Mountains. We arrived Saturday afternoon, and for the start of the weekend, we got our "party room" ready, went to shop for groceries, chopped some wood to keep warm for the night and went to roam through the abandoned sanatorium on the premises. In the evening, we had a barbecue in the teepee, and if I remember correctly, it got a bit late that night :)

In the morning, we had an unhurried breakfast, before we got on our way to check out a location that we had on our list for quite some time. It was a supposedly completely unvandalized apartment with the entire furniture from the 1970s. I had seen pictures of it, but I hadn't thought that it was anywhere near. But it was.

We drove to the location. There was an ensemble of a couple of houses, all of which seemed abandoned. There was no light in the buildings; it all looked dark. As we looked through one of then windows of the old guest house right at the street, we were startled to see a face appearing from out of the dark. After the scare, we all started laughing, and the man came out, and we started talking. It turned out that he and his wife had bought the buildings to turn the place into a multigenerational residence complete with vegetable garden - but they got into huge trouble with legal obstacles and the administrative machinery... So they were doing all that they could to keep the place alive and standing. We had a really good talk, but it was sad to hear that a great concept was on hold due to weird laws and official pedantry.

At some point, we asked the two about the 1970s apartment that was supposed to be in one of their houses...and it was! We asked if there was the possibility to check it out and take a few pictures, and they gave us their blessing - if we were careful! The building was more than 300 years old and so ramshackle that even parts of the basement had already collapsed. The apartment actually was the only place in the entire building that still had fairly solid flooring.

When we opened the door, we were amazed at what we saw. Although some of the furniture obvisously had been decorated sometime in the past, the apartment still looked authentic and was in great shape. Yes, the floor still felt a bit wobbly, but it was okay to walk on. The apartment wasn't big, but there were quite a few details, so we did spend a considerable amount of time taking photos before we came back out.

The owners hadn't expected to be paid, but we didn't want to leave without contributing to their project, so we left a small donation, which they really hadn't expected, and they were really happy about it.

It had only been a small location, but seeing and photographing it and meeting really nice people was enough for us to call it a day in therms of exploring and return to Jens and his sanatorium to enjoy the wonderful ambiance on top of the mountain...

To find out about the history of this place and to check out all the photos, click the button below.

July 28, 2022

Tour Report: The "Winkel" Bunker

The town of Wünsdorf south of Berlin was not only the High Command of the Soviet Forces in Germany during the Cold War and the nerve center of the Wehrmacht during World War II - it also has a very high concentration of air-raid shelters of the construction type "Winkel", so named after their inventor Leo Winkel and known for their remarkable shape that was originally inspired by the "campaniles" - free standing church towers in Italy.

Of the around 200 "Winkel-Bunkers" that were built during World War II, 19 were built in Wünsdorf alone due to the high concentration of military officials there at the time.

My business trip to Berlin had started a few days before with a great tour together with my friend Toeppi from Fotodokumentationen, and only a few days later, I got the chance for another explore! It was Wednesday, and I was able to get off work a bit earlier, so Toeppi picked me up and we drove South to check out some pointy bunkers :)

Especially one of the bunkers had sparked our interest, because there was a rumor that it was open, so we hoped that we'd be lucky enough to get an inside peek. There was a public parking area, and we only had to walk a few meters until we reached the bunker. I had seen a few shelters of this type before, but mainly near railway depots while riding a train, and I'd never seen one up close. But standing next to it, the size was pretty impressive - although it's hard to imagine 600 people crammed inside while bombs are exploding on the outside. As if to illustrate my point, there is another one of these shelters almost right next to it, that clearly shows the typical damages of artillery fire (or at least nearby explosions).

The door to the bunker was in fact open. I was surprised how clean it was. From the look of it, the bunker maybe had been used for civil defense during the Cold War, which would explain why the ventilation still looked in pretty good shape. Another possibility is that someone planned to keep it up and turn it into a museum - I don't know.

Although there wasn't much left in terms of furniture or equipment, the original writings on the wall together with the not really ample space conveyed the wish to not ever have to share a place like this with 600 other people during an aerial attack.

After we'd explored all floors of the bunker, we took the time to wander around in town to find more of the "Winkel" bunkers, and we did find a few. Most of them had been destroyed in accordance with the Potsdam Agreement - but they were just left where they were and now have become a part of the landscape and are being used as playground by children.

To find out more about the history of this place and to check out all the photos, click the button below.

July 16, 2022

Tour Report: "The Red M*A*S*H"

The final location that my friend Toeppi from "Fotodokumentationen" and I visited during our spontaneous tour in February of 2019, was a truly unique place - as far as I know, it's the only location of its kind in Germany.

It is an abandoned field hospital that used to be a Soviet project for reusable command posts and field hospitals called Type SKT (сооружение каркассно-тканевое = Frame-Fabric-Structure). This particular object is actually made up of two structures of this type. It was used as a training object for field care for wounded soldiers.

We drove for about an hour, and we arrived sometime around 3 o'clock in the afternoon. It was February, so the sun was already low, and it was beginning to get colder. Near the coordinates, we found a public parking space, and we assembled our gear. We had to walk a bit to get to the little forest where the field hospital was located under about two or three feet of earth. We waited for the people that were walking along the street to disappear so that we could walk into the forest unnoticed. After all - the facility was near a residential area. One of the access points was even right in someone's backyard, so to speak.

As we approached the field hospital, we only saw a small mound of earth, but as we came closer, we saw the top of the fortified access that had been filled up with earth but re-opened at some point. There was a small hole that we could climb through to get in.

This wasn't a huge place with tons of stuff - but it was a very interesting location - not only because it was a rare thing to find and explore, but also because there was a lot of special stuff still left, such as parts of a mobile x-ray machine, liquids for intravenous infusions and even some medicine. A few tables, stretchers and parts of the ventilation system were to be found as well.

We took our time to photograph the place and all the details that we were able to find, before we made our way out and went back to the car.

Looking back, we got really lucky to have seen the place in this condition, because we were there during a phase before the "tourism" began and tourists started stealing things and decorators moved the stuff around to get the "better" photo.

To find out more about the history of this place and to check out all the photos, click the button below.

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