Meetings and training brought me to Berlin, but I found time to explore more than only offices.
- Highlights included a dinner with a serial entrepreneur and good friend of Richard Branson. The six degrees of separation suddenly turned one.
- I definitely like Berlin. The city hasn’t the laser-precise touch as most of Germany (it actually feels incredibly non-German) and tries its best to find a balance between an eventful past and one of most innovative places on this planet. Silicon Allee hosts more than 400 start-ups (SoundCloud and 6Wunderkinder just to name a few) and is increasingly becoming Europe’s tech-hub. No better place for Rocket Internet to settle its HQ.
- But it’s high time to increase the amount of blog posts under adventure. I teamed up with a homie to explore an abandoned Soviet military base in Bernau bei Berlin.
It all sounded very promising. An abandoned Panzer Kaserne of the Soviet Army surrounded by a dark forest with wolves, who’s not in for that? From various sources, I learned that the 90th Guards Tank Division was stationed in Bernau bei Berlin during the Cold War. Earlier, during World War II, the base had served as launderette for the Wehrmacht. Speaking of a turnaround.
Our journey started in Mitte, Berlin center. We decided to cycle to Bernau bei Berlin, which happened to be much more distant and hard to find than we thought. So we only arrived in the late afternoon and this wasn’t particularly beneficial to the exploration of the site. Time management.
The area seemed desolate and empty at first sight. Somewhat annoyingly, we only found an open landscape with a few garages and repair ramps for trucks in the middle. Where’s that military base? Disillusion!
But, we dug a little deeper and found a few reasons not to be disappointed!
First, we didn’t expect the base to be that huge. The total site measures approximately 2 by 1 km with the military barracks located in the northeast. Also the size of the barracks is impressive. No skeletal architecture here, but massive walls and heaps of concrete. I can imagine that heating during winter should have been difficult to nearly impossible. This was not a cozy place to reside and vodka was most probably a must to survive the harsh winter times.
At the inside, we found remnants of original Soviet wall paintings and a collection of graffiti. Other than that, the place is really dead. We strolled through the corridors imagining the Soviet soldiers killing their time with drinking games and playing basketball in the attics.
Back outside, we noticed that high chimneys popped up above the central building. We took the staircase to the highest level and climbed the ladder at the inside of the chimney. Besides very dark and narrow, it was also very dirty. At the top, however, we had a spectacular view of the entire base and surroundings.
History stopped a couple of decades ago in Bernau bei Berlin and now nature is slowly regaining terrain. Time has taken its toll on the barracks and grasses start sprouting out of the once invincible concrete walls. It’s only a matter of time before gravity triumphs, the barracks collapse, and the forest covers all the remains.
Before we sign off, I’d like to list my top 3 eats in Berlin. Except from the compulsory currywurst, Berlin does offer a variety of restaurants (and kebabs). Moreover, your dollar clearly goes further in Berlin.