15 august 2004 - teufelsberg

on the 31st of may, anna and i rode up teufelsberg, to take a look around. during the cold war, this was the site of a large american rader installation which was eavesdropping on everything east. since then it has been abandoned, and is now a giant site of smashed junk.

sometime more recently, some outfit tried to set up apartments in the ruins, but i guess they didn't get enough buyers, or the prices were too high, or they didn't have the proper rights to do what they wanted to do. anyway, it failed.

on the way there, we saw a beautiful old austin healey in the parking lot. i also snapped a couple of pictures of the forest, grunewald.

as we got closer, the scale of the place became obvious. the whole hill is apparently man-made. the berlin area is generally quite flat. other than a couple of strange black squares on the large tower, it doesn't looked ravaged from a distance. when we entered the grounds, however, the extent of the destruction became obvious.

we had fun looking around, and it was exciting in places, but we didn't touch anything. i cannot for the life of me imagine why anyone would come up here just to destroy stuff. it was even more damaged than three months ago, when we first came. the strange looking beads anna is standing on in the last picture are tiny shards of glass from a pane of safety glass. it was like walking on ice pellets, and crunched nicely. two of the kids were wearing open shoes however, so we had to be quite careful in places.

here is the model apartment i talked about last time. contrast with the way it looked when originally built.
inside the smaller domes, some vandals had cut away chunks of canvas. last time we were here, this was still virtually intact. in the view from the top, one can just spot my workplace. it is the small highrise with the white triangle on top, vertically about central, close to the right edge.
we didn't go up into the tall tower last time, since we figured the stairs were dark all the way up. in fact, there was a concrete platform on each level on the way up, so there were only a few dark steps between floors, and a bit of light on the rest, so this time we went up. compared to the two smaller, canvas domes, the top one was made of some kind of tough plastic, and was pretty dark. there was a great echo inside. i took a mostly quite dark video up there, where we were all shouting and singing, and looking out the one little hole which was providing the light, but it is 75 mb, so i will spare you that experience. perhaps one day i will have a video cutting program, where i can resize and properly compress it, so i can put it here. three of the pictures look out one of the square black holes seen from below, one of them straight down onto the roof of the larger part of the building.
a last couple of pictures taken on the way back home.
it would be a great shame if someone was to build apartments here. i think the uniqueness of the site requires turning it into some kind of public area, perhaps a museum to the cold war. this kind of view doesn't generally exist in berlin, and the whole area would make a very nice park, if cleaned up.

i also have some not-so-generous thoughts about how the americans treat a place they have left. it makes me wonder what afghanistan and iraq look like now, even more so when one considers that germany is and was an ally the whole time of this site's existence. i hope that they would consider chipping in towards the cleanup costs. we saw a large amount of dangerous materials while up there, from relatively benign glass and metal chunks, to asbestos-laden building materials.