Forgotten Places: Teufelsberg Field Station Berlin
There is beauty in rolling fields and sandy beaches, yes, but I have always felt that there is a lot of beauty in steel and concrete as well. Okay, maybe not beauty exactly but definitely some intriguing quality that draws you in and makes you fall in love. Like the eyes of a stranger on a train. You don’t know them but something makes you forget time and space just for a moment. And so I jumped at the chance to go up to the derelict Teufelsberg Field Station in Berlin.
The Teufelsberg is a direct result of the Second World War and the blockade of West Berlin by the Soviet Union. Unable to dispose of the debris left in the city after the bombings of the war, 26 million cubic meters of debris of the destroyed city were dumbed in Grunewald. The Western Allies installed a spy station at the top of the debris mountain which eventually started operating in 1963. Following the fall of the Wall and the closing of the station, the Field Station Berlin slowly fell into dereliction until it was bought up by investors.
The upkeep of the station is now managed by the Association of Berlin Teufelsberg who organize tours and manage the continuing use of the Station by artists.
Before getting there, I wasn’t sure what to expect. That was a good thing though because nothing could have prepared me for the views, the sounds and for the feeling of emptiness I felt while wandering among the steel beams and domes.
The buildings of the Station are overgrown from every corner which gives the impression that the Grunewald forest is finally reclaiming what was rightly his all along. And even while you climb the concrete steps up the central building and up to the only remaining intact dome, it’s hard to believe that a mere 20 years ago Americans were listening in on the German government from a location within Berlin’s city boundaries (but then again, we know that they still do that, just from this location). On a windy day, you hear the material of the domes flapping in the wind, creating a haunting sound which prepares you for the final climb up to the main dome. Whether you whisper, clap, whistle or hum, nothing goes unnoticed in this cloth covered hall. Surrounded by sound and by two men that seem to hug you tight and keep you safe, you will find yourself wandering and wondering how this place must have been 25 or 30 years ago.
Despite the entry charge, it’s a place worth visiting and that will stay with you for a while.
If you want to visit the Field Station Berlin, then you can do so by either joining a historic tour or a simple guided walk. The guided walk is available in both German and English and costs 7 Euro. Tours start every full hour but I would recommend that you check the website beforehand to make sure. It’s a 20 minute walk at a brisk pace from S-Bahnhof Grunewald, so be sure to plan enough time to get there for the start of the tour.