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Report - Beelitz-Heilstätten sanitorium, Brandenburg, Germany - November 2010

Discussion in 'European and International Sites' started by LiamCH, May 25, 2011.

  1. LiamCH

    LiamCH 28DL Full Member
    28DL Full Member

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    Well, it’s been rather a long time since my last report on here, and a lot has happened in the meantime. Largely due to urban exploration’s influence I’ve found my interest in photography growing so when it came to the crunch for choosing a degree for university, it wasn’t hard to choose. Anyway, while on a trip to Berlin with my university I thought it would be pretty poor if I didn’t stumble around some ruin or other while in Germany, and with the good fortune of finding a second-year with a similar interest (saving me from falling through floors 650 miles from home all by myself,) we set off on a train into the Brandenburg countryside to visit the rather beautiful former sanatorium that is Beelitz-Heilstätten, a large complex of buildings with an incredible history.

    Built by architect Heino Schmieden starting in 1898, it was originally a sanatorium for workers from Berlin, but was taken over by the Imperial Army during the first world war, during which time in the winter of 1916 it would be host to one of its most notorious patients - a young Adolf Hitler recovering from a wound sustained during the Battle of the Somme. In 1945 the hospital was captured by the Soviet Army as they marched into what would in 1949 become the Soviet-influenced German Democratic Republic (GDR). As the GDR was absorbed into the Federal Republic of Germany in 1990, the former leader of the GDR - Erich Honecker - would himself stay here for a brief period before fleeing the country to escape responsibility for crimes committed by his government. The Russians would retain the hospital for several more years, even after the breakup of the Soviet Union, but the hospital would finally become a civilian (and German) institution again in 1995, although due to its poor financial performance most of the buildings would be abandoned in 2000. Behind a patch of peeling wallpaper I found a Russian newspaper from 1990! Some of the site remains in use, but for the most part the buildings are decaying rapidly, attracting no attention other than photographers and graffiti artists.

    Due to the early sunset at the time of year we unfortunately only saw a small fraction of the massive site. Only when I got home and found a map did I realise just how much more there was to be found on the other side of the railway!

    Anyway, on with the pictures…
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    Our first port of call was the most decayed building nearest to the railway. Seemingly abandoned for decades, this was an absolute ruin and Russian writing and graffiti on the walls suggest that it has been derelict for at least forty years. As we approached another man with a camera saw us and made a quick retreat. I found it quite amusing that someone would be scared off by me - I'm not scary, am I?
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    The inside of this building was probably one of the most surreal places I’ve encountered. Barely any trace of it ever having been in an inhabitable state remained; barely a scrap of plaster on the walls, not a single door and hardly any remains of the roof. The lift was still stopped at the third floor however, which was quite impressive considering the cables probably haven’t been serviced in… Well, I shudder to think!
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    The stairs in this place had seen better days, as you’ll see. I’ve never seen such a solidly-built structure reduced to this kind of state before.
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    Soviet graffiti about the writer’s hometown in the Kazakh Soviet Socialist Republic. [​IMG]
    Before moving on to some of the more recently abandoned buildings, here’s a final shot to show just how severe the decay is:
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    Unfortunately it seems many of the buildings had been recently sealed, meaning the interior of this gorgeous building remains a mystery to me.
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    Before heading onto what was probably the single largest block we had a brief look at one of the smaller outbuildings.
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    The obvious highlight of the visit would have to be the final building we visited. Our first impressions weren't much, but it turns out we were only looking at it from the side...
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    This picture shows just under half of the building, to give you an idea of its size!
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    Obligitory crew shot. Ignore the beard, it was a terrible, terrible mistake and it's long gone now.
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    With the state of the roof and the harsh German winters, the future for these buildings is probably rather gloomy.
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    Such is life in the former German Democratic Republic...
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    Why do they always leave them stopped on the top floor?
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    The famous surgical lamp, in an awful condition due to recent vandalism.
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    Though it would have been nice to have seen more of this quite amazing complex, our brief visit is certainly something I'm not going to forget in a hurry. I apologise for the fact that the photographs aren't really as good as they could have been by the way - time limitations didn't allow for my usual hour to photograph a single room.

    Unfortunately after making our way back to the station, I managed to drop my beloved DSLR on the platform, knocking the sensor out of alignment. You could say it might be something to do with the hangover I had at the time, but personally I blame the railway operators for not making a better warning about the giant pink death rays emitted by passing trains.

    I mean honestly, was this enough?

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    I hope you enjoyed the pictures and as always, there are a few more over on Flickr (in my signature.)
     
    #1 LiamCH, May 25, 2011
    Last edited: May 25, 2011
    girtrood likes this.

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