Teufelsberg

The abandoned Cold War field station at the top of Teufelsberg is not very discreet. Three huge bulbous globes crown the main building, where the NSA once intercepted East Berlin and Soviet communications. The middle one is perched atop a six story high tower rising above the trees of Grunewald. It looks, for lack of a more elegant way to describe it, like a giant dick and balls.

Teufelsberg means devil’s mountain. Not to be confused with Teufelswerk, which means the work of the devil. It’s a man-made mount: 12 million cubic meters of war rubble. That’s about 400.000 bombed houses. 3% of the more than 400 million cubic meters of rubble that dressed German cities not so long ago. Collected by Berlin’s Trümmerfrauen, and dumped here. Buried beneath that lie the remains of a Nazi military training academy. Designed by Hitler’s chief architect Albert Speer. Envisioned as part of the University City in the world capital Germania. Destined to welcome the Reich’s blunted and brutalized Napola graduates, no doubt. It takes no more than ten minutes to ascend it, usually. But we need fifteen this time, because two days ago storm Xavier left an array of fallen trees in it’s wake that we have to clamber over on our way up.

The reward at the top is the ever-changing street art on display in and on the ruins. And one of the best views of the sunset around here, which you get from the roof of the main building, if you come at the right time. And if you climb the highest tower, (the penis), you can enter the globe through a trap door. The light is very dim inside. The vast space is watched by two large, faceless, hooded figures spray painted on to the inner shell of the globe. But the best part is the echo. Everything you do in here echoes. Every step, every shuffle. Everything you say, even a whisper, echoes all around you. It’s exactly how you’d imagine a movie scene to depict someone loosing their mind.

People of Berlin #1 - Straßenfeger