Friday, 19 April 2013

Flesh Cuts

Teufelsberg Spy Station
With Luci Westphal

Teufelsberg Spy Station – In A Berlin Minute (Week 155)In the northern part of the nature preserve Grunewald Forest, on top of the man-made hill Teufelsberg (Devil’s Mountain) sits a former US spy listening station, with which Americans listened in on East Germans and Russians from the 1950s until 1991 when Germany was reunited. The 260 ft tall (80 m) Teufelsberg mountain itself was built out of rubble from Berlin buildings destroyed during the Second World War, burying with it a Nazi technical college designed by Albert Speer.
The US National Security Agency (NSA) built the listening stations on top of the hill even though it was in the British sector. It was and still is clearly visible throughout Berlin, so it was no secret to the Soviets and East Germans that the US was listening in.

Since the early 90s there have been various investors and plans to utilize the hill and the now abandoned listening station. The view from above onto Berlin and the surrounding countryside makes it a valuable location. But instead it is today, more than 20 years since it’s lost its Cold War functionality still in an abandoned looking shape. There have been many illegal parties and the buildings are full of amazing street art.

I’d been wanting to visit Teufelsberg for a long time. Rumors had been flying about fences having holes, these holes being closed up again, security guards keeping people out, harassing and hustling them for money. Since May 2012 two artists have been leasing the area of the former listening station and are charging people an entry fee (€7 – €15), which is linked to a tour (between 1 and 2 hours, depends if you go during the week or on the weekend). Even though it’s more fun to sneak into abandoned buildings for your urban explorations, I have to admit I didn’t mind so much to pay. It was certainly worth it to see the art, the buildings and the view. However, I really hate these time restricted tours. There’s never enough time for me to film and photograph everything, roam freely and relax for a bit to really take in the space.


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