Walkthrough of Abandoned Soviet Military Compound in Germany

The Wünsdorf camp was home for 75,000 Soviet citizens. Locals called it "Little Moscow"

13.03.2019

Tucked away some 40 kilometers south of Berlin lies a decaying compound known as the “Forbidden City.” A Lenin statue stands in front of the complex – a symbol of Soviet oppression.

It used to be off-limits to the public, serving as the headquarters of the Soviet Army in Germany. There was a theater, a museum, stores, schools, and a swimming pool. It was once home to 75,000 Soviet men, women and children. It was nicknamed “Little Moscow.”

Now, the ravages of time have taken their toll.

“Its a bit of a strange feeling that back then they tried to build things in secret that nobody in the outside world would really see. If you stand in there yourself, you think, my God, if the doors would be closed here now, no-one would ever find you again,” Christel Muller, a tourist from Berlin  said.

The Wünsdorf camp is a nearly 6-square-kilometer area fenced in by a 17-kilometer-long concrete wall. It was once the biggest military camp outside the USSR. Today, it’s an eerie sight with plaster flaking off the facade and broken windows. Some of the empty rooms inside one complex still tell the story of Soviet power in East Germany.

After the fall of the Berlin wall in 1989 and the dissolution of the Soviet Union, the army was called home. Wünsdorf was left littered with ammunition, ordnance and nearly 30 tons of garbage. The Soviet soldiers and their families left behind a legacy of ruin.

“The Russians wanted to leave this enormous cultural center. After they left, it was set up as a memorial of their time on German territory. They wanted money for that. No-one paid. So the Russians took everything with them. And this wall here behind us, after taking out everything they could have taken, this view of photos. But I guess that it was a message to reunited Germany. Over the photos is written, ‘This must not be repeated,'” Tour guide and Head of Bücher-und Bunkerstadt Wünsdorf Werner Borchert said.

Before the Soviets moved in, the compound served as the headquarters for Nazi German forces. Nazi commanders used the underground communications bunker at Wünsdorf to keep contact with their forces in Russia, France, and Holland. During the Cold War the Soviets, too, used the bunker for communication purposes.

“For me, it’s a memorial, a warning that one has to teach young people so that all of this does not happen again, no matter in what country.” Tour guide for Bücher-und Bunkerstadt Wünsdorf Sylvia Rademacher said.

It continues to be closed off to the public but it’s now possible to arrange small tours. Approximately 20,000 people visit each year.

Source The Associated Press
date 13.03.2019
categories News releases, Tourism
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