Thursday, May 17, 2012

Teufelsberg - The Devil's Mountain

We broke into an abandoned American spy station! A couple/few months ago we went to Teufelsberg, apparently the highest hill/mountain in Berlin where you can see the entire city. Here is some info taken from Wikipedia:

The Teufelsberg (German for Devil's Mountain) is a hill in Berlin, Germany, in former West Berlin. It rises about 80 meters above the surrounding Brandenburg plain, more precisely the north of Berlin's Grunewald forest. It was named after the Teufelssee (i.e. Devil's lake) in its southerly vicinity...It is an artificial hill with a curious history: It was heaped up after the Second World War from part of the rubble of Berlin, approximately 75,000,000 m3 (98,000,000 cu yd) all over the city, during the following twenty years as the city was cleared and rebuilt...

...The US National Security Agency (NSA) built one of its largest listening stations on top of the hill, rumored to be part of the global ECHELON intelligence gathering network. "The Hill", as it was known colloquially by the many American soldiers who worked there around the clock and who commuted there from their quarters in the American Sector, was located in the British Sector. Prior to establishing the first permanent buildings there in the very late 1950s, Mobile Allied listening units had driven to various other locales throughout West Berlin hoping to gain the best vantage point for listening to Soviet, East German, and other Warsaw Pact nations military traffic. It was also used to supervise the West Berlin Air Corridors. One such unit drove to the top of Teufelsberg and discovered a marked improvement in listening ability. This discovery eventually led to a large structure being built atop the hill, which would come to be run by the NSA (National Security Agency). At the request of US government, the ski lifts were removed because they allegedly disturbed the signals. The station continued to operate until the fall of East Germany and the Berlin Wall, but after that the station was closed and the equipment removed. The buildings and radar domes still remain in place.

We climbed through a hole in the fence and wandered around. There were actually lots of people there, which took away the whole "we're going to get in trouble" fear, even if it's apparently still illegal. The Americans used this place to spy on the Russians during the war, and, as they are also apt to do, completely abandoned it without cleaning up any of their shit afterwards. As you can read above, the entire hill/mountain is actually made of rubbish covered in dirt and the giant balls were used to pick up Russian radio signals. We climbed into one of the giant balls and the acoustics were amazing. People were playing flutes and singing opera and banging on shit. Check out the video below to get an idea! Here's one more fun fact I found on Wiki:

During the NSA Operations some other curious things happened: It was noticed that during certain times the reception of the radio signals was better than during the rest of the year. The 'culprit' was found after a while: it was the Ferris wheel of the annual German-American Volksfest Festival on the Hüttenweg in Zehlendorf. From then on, the Ferris wheel was left standing for some time after the festival was over. While there were rumors that the Americans had excavated a shaft down into the ruins beneath, that was never proven, and was likely based on reports that those who maintained equipment in one of the first enclosed antenna structures accessed the upper levels of the inflated dome via an airlock that led to a "tunnel" that was embedded in the structures central column. Speculation as to what might have existed within the highly restricted area frequently gave rise to rather elaborate but false rumors; one theory stated that "the tunnel" was an underground escape route.

Lolz Ferris wheels.

Without further!

On the way, best thing is you can get here via pub transit.
There were lots of holes in the fence that had been fixed up.
This was on the wall of an area filled with prison cells.
Going up? Good luck with that.
The background is an outline of Teufelsberg.

Marion standing by this random little fence in the building.
Has definitely seen better days, whatever this was.
June and Marion exploring.
Me really excited about this door going nowhere.
On the way up to one of the balls.
Marion and Myriam can fly!
View from the top. Balls!
The structures were covered in canvas.
Talk about doors going nowhere. Something REALLY interesting must have been in this room for them to cement it in there.
A sign advertising apartments that were planned to be built here...and then weren't.

And the promised video of inside one of the giant spy balls at Teufelsberg...

If you're in Berlin, you should definitely make a trip over there!

No comments:

Post a Comment