Written By: LFG
Edited By: Grave Reviews Staff
There’s no denying that Germany is one of the most beautiful countries globally, with its picturesque landscapes and unique architecture. Not only that, but every inch of it is rich in history and has helped shaped the German culture that people know of today. It’s no wonder tourists from other nations flock to see famous sites like the Cologne Cathedral or the Berlin Wall; however, another attraction is slowly building a name for itself—the abandoned listening station in a place called Teufelsberg.
Teufelsberg, aptly translated as “Devil’s Mountain” in English, is an artificial mountain situated in Grunewald’s lush green locality in Berlin, Germany. It’s just one of the many man-made hills throughout the country, but what makes the Devil’s Mountain stand out from the rest is how an unfinished Nazi military school used to be on the zone. Instead of blowing up the structure, it was decided that burying Teufelsberg with debris was much easier. As a result, the authorities used rubble coming from 400,000 buildings destroyed during the war; this is why the hill is slightly higher than a natural one at 394 feet.
At some point in 1955, Teufelsberg became a ski hill thanks to the efforts of world-famous skier Heini Klopfer, after he placed a 79-foot ski jump structure. A bigger ski jump was added at the height of its popularity in 1962; sadly, it only lasted for a couple of years as ski jumping activities stopped in 1969.
The Hillside Listening Station
It turned out Teufelsberg’s location played a huge advantage when it came to telecommunications, especially during the Cold War in 1961. The United States National Security Agency built a network on top of the hill as a listening station to communists surrounding Berlin. The four “radomes” or radar domes made Teufelsberg a complex that looks distinct up to this day. What’s even more astonishing is when they found out the Ferris wheel nearby (that was only present during festivals) improved the station’s signals—it was instrumental in relaying information taken from the Germans and Russians. They also removed the ski lifts in 1963 as it became a signal disruption.
Due to the American soldiers’ presence in Teufelsberg, speculations arose that it has been fully infiltrated with tunnels, with some considering the possibility of Teufelsberg being a submarine base. Unfortunately, operations stopped when the Berlin Wall fell in 1989, and the site was fully abandoned after all equipment were removed. Interestingly enough, the radomes were never destroyed nor was it reused by the German government as soon as the American occupants left.
On the other hand, the investors who purchased Teufelsberg were keen on transforming it for commercial use, and a hotel was even in the talks of being erected. Those plans never came to fruition, and since there was no proper security, graffiti artists sneaked inside the facility and turned it into a quirky and grand work of art.
Much has been done to beautify Teufelsberg—greenery was placed throughout the entire hill, making it look like a regular park. Bike lanes and jogging paths were added, so people began to frequent the hill. This move made the German government interested in taking back ownership, but plans were immediately halted due to a considerable debt. In 1994, it was also briefly used for air traffic control for domestic flights, but as expected, that didn’t last long either.
Before it was fenced off, curious tourists used to have the opportunity to access Teufelsberg legally by purchasing tickets from a man named Shalmon Abraham, who used to rent the place in 2011. Artists were invited from all over the country to showcase their graffiti, but the exhibit stopped soon after as Abraham never paid rent, nor did he allocate funds for the actual preservation of the graffiti.
Finally, in 2018, it was announced that Teufelsberg would be preserved as a historical site after former employees started a campaign. Everyone was overjoyed with the ruling that no new structures are allowed within the site. For now, Teufelsberg has turned into a haven for art enthusiasts. Some might find it not worth the visit, but it is safe to assume this little piece of history would surprise even those who dislike art.
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