Abandoned on Teufelsberg in Grunewald, the former US radar and listening station Teufelsberg. Today, only dilapidated buildings remain as reminders of an eventful piece of history in Berlin.
The Teufelsberg is located in the west of Berlin. It is not a natural elevation, but a mountain of rubble.
Around 1940, the shell of the Wehrtechnische Universität stood on the site of today’s Teufelsberg. The facility was blown up after the Second World War and the remaining buildings were filled with rubble from 1950 onwards. For 22 years, about 800 lorries carried up to 7,000 cubic metres of rubble every day. This is how the Teufelsberg was created and became the highest elevation in West Berlin.
In 1972, the landscape began to be landscaped with sand and topsoil and about 1 million trees were planted. They even created winter sports facilities. A ski slope with a drag lift, a toboggan run and even a ski jump were built. There was even an international ski race on Teufelsberg.
Teufelsberg radar and listening station
However, the Berliners were not allowed to use part of the site. The US Army used one of the resulting hilltops for its Teufelsberg radar and listening station. Initially, mobile facilities were used to monitor the three flight corridors between Berlin and the Federal Republic and the airspace. Later, permanent buildings were constructed and 5 antenna domes were erected. The facility was also used by American and British reconnaissance and security services.
After reunification, all the electronics were removed from the Teufelsberg radar and listening station. The Allies left Berlin and the buildings stood empty. The Berlin Senate sold the site to an investor. Exclusive flats, hotel, museum, restaurant were just some of the ideas that emerged over time to use the site. Massive resistance from environmentalists and extremely high construction costs caused all ideas to fail and finally a fence was erected around the ruined building in 2003. Nevertheless, there was strong vandalism on the site, which destroyed a lot.
Guided tours of the site were offered for several years, but unfortunately had to be discontinued in September 2015. We took part in one of these tours and were able to explore a truly unusual site.
Nature has already reclaimed the area around the former Teufelsberg radar and listening station. If no construction work takes place here, it will certainly not be long before much of it is completely overgrown.
Some of the building sections have been made accessible for guided tours. Thick concrete and steel walls shield the interior from the outside. Mobile phone reception is not possible here and one can imagine how attempts were made to conceal secrets.
Some of the big white domes that I used to see from Kladow on the other side of the Havel as a child, I could now see up close for the first time. They were impressive even from a distance, but I hadn’t imagined them to be so big. You could even walk into one of these spherical constructions. No noise penetrated from the outside and the room had a really eerie acoustics. Although I found it very exciting what the guide told us, I still felt physically very uncomfortable in the “bell” and was glad to get back out onto the roof. From the roof of a building you have a great view over the city.
I think that this historical place should continue to be accessible and that many more people here should be brought closer to a part of the history of the Cold War. I was really impressed by this tour.