Last month I visited the abandoned bunker responsible for controlling all of Germany’s U-boat fleet during World War II. Cool as hell. Quoting directly from the Abandoned Berlin blog, "It was here those poor $#%&ers on Das Boot would have been ordered to go past Gibraltar!" Located just outside the town of Bernau, they began building the complex in 1939 for what was originally intended to be a naval intelligence school. With all the bombs being dropped on Berlin though, it was then decided that the German Naval High Command would move to this quiet and heavily forested area an hour outside Berlin by train. We biked from the Bernau train station about 7km, much of it past wind farms and through unpaved, rocky or sandy little forest paths. Biking through sand: always a challenge! The mosquitoes feasted on us all afternoon, unaccustomed to such tasty company.
The Russians destroyed the two above-ground bunkers in the complex after the war, leaving huge blocks of concrete on their sides protruding 50 feet into the air – not great for picture making, but perfect for a little afternoon rock climbing fun. The underground bunker was deeper into the forest and well-hidden in the middle of a field, behind a barbed-wire fence, and sealed by a heavy, scary-looking manhole cover. Once the cover is lifted, you have to climb down a slippery, rusted ladder 10 feet to the entrance of the bunker. Flashlights on: It is so dark and wet and quiet in there, and all you can hear is the dripping water echoing through the massive space, easily the size of a football field, with a long central hallway and smaller rooms and corridors off to the side. There are four levels to this underground bunker, but we only explored two levels fully. The other two were blocked off and more damaged. The two main levels were completely gutted of all furniture and military paraphernalia, but in decent shape. Paint still on the walls, though peeling. Hardly any graffiti in sight. Hard wood floors in certain rooms. The ventilation system still functioned wonderfully, so there was fresh air running through the bunker and no smell of mold or decay. It was very cold down there. Exploring this space with three men made me especially brave, but I couldn't help knowing that if I'd been there alone... well, I would never go in there alone. It was too creepy, too large, too dark, too quiet, too many scary shadows and things hiding around the next corner. Yet another perfect set for some German horror film! Brrrrrrrrrrr.