April 26, 2015

Airplane Hangars K.

This part of Berlin has always had a long history in aviation.
Between 1907 and 1911, Georg Wilhelm von Siemens ordered the construction of the first rotating Airship Hangar on a plot of land here. Around the same time, a small airport known to locals under two names -  Flugplatz (Airfield) B. and Flugplatz K. - was constructed north of the airship hangar and consisted of an aerodrome and several airplane hangars.

During WWI, the complex was expanded with some new hangars and a railway line (which was removed in the 1930s).
After the defeat of the German Empire, the Treaty of Versailles prohibited Germany the use of any aircraft which meant that the airbase remained abandoned and unused over the following years.
In the 1920s, the district planned to convert the area into a park, but the concept was never realized.
With the rearmament of Germany in the 1930s, the Nazis wanted to expand the existing military academies.

In 1936, the construction of the "Festungspionierschule der Deutschen Wehrmacht" began, one of the most important “contemporary” buildings of the Wehrmacht.
The Officers Casino on the south-western end of the complex was where the unconditional surrender of the German Wehrmacht against the allied forces was signed on the 8th of May 1945.

The whole complex was then taken over by the Soviet Army, and was declared a restricted area. It became the initial headquarters of the “SMAD” (Soviet Military Administration of Germany) and the KGB in Germany.
At the time, some of the flight hangars were then used by the VEB SHB (Spzialhochbau - Special Structural Engineering) – a construction company under direct command of the Stasi (State Security), but how the others were used is undocumented.
The "Festungspionierschule" has been renovated and was turned into living apartments, and the hangars on the northern end of the area have been torn down to make room for new apartment buildings.

The photos you see here are from the remaining hangars in the southern part of the area.To view the full gallery, please visit my website.

April 19, 2015

Wood Processing Factory L.

This excursion took place in December of 2014. My wife and I had tried to find a way to get into this location almost exactly a year before, but our attempts weren't crowned with success then.
So we tried again one year later. Together with a friend we went around the premises twice without finding any way in.
There had been holes in the fence, but those had apparently been swiftly sealed again. Parts of the fence had been replaced with a more stable kind and new holes hadn't just been sealed with more fence - they had been secured with razor wire, just like the top of the fence.

We had almost given up when we found a hole close to the ground, just small enough for one person to slip through. So we got in one after another and started checking out the area.
There had been trees cut down and tools were lying around. As far as we could see, some kind of cleanup had begun on the premises, possibly in preparation of demolition or renovation.

Anyway, after only a couple of photos and only about 15 minutes inside the location, two guys from a security firm discovered us and we had to get out of there.

Here is some historical information about this location:
Construction on this wood processing plant began in 1924. Until then, the three business partners were only operating a storage facility for wood. In 1924, the started building a wood processing plant with its own railway siding.
They were immensely successful, so they were soon called "The Wood-Kings from River Spree". All necessary facilities had been built right there on the premises - coal storage, steam plant, sawmill, water tanks, and administration buildings.
In the beginning, the three business partners mainly produced cigar boxes and pencils, but soon began refining plain wood by applying fine sheets of noble wood.
The factory was sold to a new owner in the beginning of the 1930s. New veneer machines were acquired and new cranes were set up on the storage sites in 1937.
In 1941, the factory was included in the war production plan, so the veneer production was seized and production of ammunition cases made from saw wood started.
The factory sustained heavy damages through various bombings during World War II. Despite the damages, work started again in 1946 to prduce saw wood from oaks, beech wood and pines for the production of clothes hangers, barrels, boxes and lasts.
The operation was seized by the East German state and became a "people's owned enterprise" (VEB). New production and storage facilites were built, and despite shortage of wood, in 1952 the production of chipboards began.
In December of 1991, the factory was shut down.

April 14, 2015

Sanatorium Beelitz-Heilstätten [Revisit] (Part 3)

Of course, Beelitz has many more things to offer than beautiful hallways and staircases.
There are vast dining halls and gymnasiums, there are the patients' rooms and the entrance halls, and there is the bath house...
So here are more of the amazing views the old sanatorium has to show.

It is impossible to catch all the sights at Beelitz in one eight-hour day, let alone take photos of everything that's worth photographing.
Unfortunately, the decaying beauty of this amazing place will be history soon. In about one week, restoration is scheduled to start in some of the buildings, so only one part of the entire area will be left accessible.

This was probably my last visit to the sanatorium at Beelitz-Heilstätten, but who knows...

To check out the full gallery of photos from Beelitz, please visit my website.

Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3

April 8, 2015

Sanatorium Beelitz-Heilstätten [Revisit] (Part 2)

As I've announced in my last post, I'll be posting a couple of galleries from Beelitz here since there are too many photos to present them all on my blog.
To check out the full gallery, please visit my website.

A couple of days ago, I showed you the beautiful long and vast hallways Beelitz is offering its visitors. Now, here are the stairwells...that are just as beautiful...

Part 1 | Part 2

April 4, 2015

Sanatorium Beelitz-Heilstätten [Revisit]

On our second day of our trip to Berlin in December of last year, my wife and I had planned a hole day of exploring in the abandoned sanatorium at Beelitz-Heilstätten.
It had been almost two years since our first visit in January of 2013, so we were really happy to get tickets for a "fotobase" with go2know.
Of course that meant spending a lot of money, and I know that some people are strictly oppposed to this "commercialisation" of the hobby of urban exploration (a sentiment that I am supporting to a certain extent).
To me however, the opportunity of visiting Beelitz one more (and very probably last) time clearly outweighs the commercial aspect - even if you have to "share" the place with a bunch of other photographers.

Anyway, we got up pretty early and were in fact able to spend eight hours in the various buildings (the central bath house, the hospital's butchery, the bakery, the heating plant, the men's sanatorium, the men's lung sanatorium and the central laundry).
Of course, there are way too many photos to share them all here in this blog, so I'll be posting a selection of shots here and if you like, you can head over to my website to check out the rest.

My favorite at Beelitz are the corridors. The hallways of Beelitz are just amazingly beautiful. Wide, spacious and light-flooded they give an impression of life in the sanatorium about 100 years ago.
I can almost see the patients walking to the halls, with doctors and nurses hurrying past them...

Next up: The staircases of Beelitz - stay tuned!

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