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.

July 2, 2022

Tour Report: Rest Home "Wasted Years"

From the abandoned chapel, it was only a few hundred meters to the abandoned retirement home, so it was only a short drive. There was a public parking lot right across the street, so that's where we parked the car and got our gear together for a longer exploration. The chapel was small, but being a former military facility, the rest home was a pretty big place, so we took a little more stuff with us.

There was a boom gate at the main driveway, but it was open. There were no fences and no signs that the access was prohibited, which is probably the reason that this place appears to be frequently visited by lots of different people - but I'll get to that.

Toeppi from "Fotodokumentationen" and I didn't really have a plan where to go first, so we just went from one building to the next and checked if it was worthwhile to explore. We found the kitchen and a dining hall, a water bunker for fighting fires, a heating plant - and of course, a lot of rooms where the senior citizens lived.

Especially the residential buildings offered a few memorable sights: Right behind the main doors, we found beautiful tile mosaics which depicted cities in the area that the individual houses were named after. These houses looked like large bungalows and had probably been built sometime in the 1970s. The flat roofs predestined these buildings for water damage - and the water damage took care of the decay. It was beautiful!

As I've mentioned, the area was far from being fenced off, and since it was a beautiful sunny Sunday, there were a lot of people around. We saw other urbexers, graffiti sprayers "working" on the walls of the heating plant, people walking their dogs or just taking a stroll and a lot of families with small children - the place must be like an adventure playground for kids... One of the families had decided to make the theater their playground. This theater is one of the most beautiful rooms in the entire place, but they didn't think to move; the children kept running around, so we decided to go on without taking photos there and check out the small indoor pool before leaving for our final location.

That summer, I returned together with my wife and managed to check out the rooms that Toeppi and I had missed this time - we even found the air-raid shelter in the basement, but that's a story for another blog post :)

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

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...