The Insider guides
went on a guided tour of the bunker complex in Zossen, which is
situated one hour’s drive south of Berlin in the sleepy town of
Buecherstadt Wünsdorf. The town has some interesting history: this
is where Germany’s first mosque was built, opening in 1915 to serve
as a place of worship for the Muslim prisoners captured during World
War One. In March 1935 the Oberkommando Des Heeres (OKH), the High
Command of the Army, located to Zossen. In 1938 the Oberkommando der
Wehrmacht (OKW), the High Command of the Armed Forces, followed, also
building their headquarters in Zossen. The German Olympic team even
trained at the military sports complex in Zossen before the 1936
Summer Olympics. As part of the Potsdam Agreement after World War
Two, military installations had to be dismantled, meaning many of the
bunkers were destroyed by the Soviets in 1947. The location was of
such strategic importance to the Soviets that they rebuilt and
expanded the bunker complex during the Cold War.
You can only walk
through the immense bunker complex as part of a guided tour.
|"Maybach 1" |
The photo above
shows how the bunkers look today, having been partially destroyed in
“Maybach 1”, as
this bunker complex was known, was built between 1937 and 1939. What
looked from the air to be a normal housing complex was actually
twelve solidly built bunkers in which the OKW had their HQ during
World War Two, and from which the OKW ran army operations throughout
Europe, planning operations such as the invasion of the Soviet Union,
codenamed “Operation Barbarossa”. This is also where members of
the German resistance worked, including people such as Claus Schenk
Graf von Stauffenberg and General Eduard Wagner, who plotted to
The entry to the Panzir Bunker (Cut and cover)
|Tunnel in the|
The two photos above
show the “Panzir” bunker, which was built in 1979 by the Soviets.
Known as a “cut and cover” bunker, it is constructed in such a
way that half the bunker lies above ground with the other half lying
underground. It was used for communications and physical excercise
for Soviet soldiers and officers.
This photo shows the
entrance into the “Nickel” bunker, which was the most important
Soviet communications bunker during the Cold War. It monitored and
tracked all civilian and military aircraft flying over Western Europe
and Scandinavia. This gave the Soviets valuable real-time data on
Allied war planes. They had the information needed to decide upon a
given action, whether that be a preemptive strike, or a
counter-strike. When the Russians left this bunker in 1994, they took
all their high-tech equipment with them, so that it didn’t fall
into “enemy” hands.
Werner, our guide,
tells us about the strategic importance of the complex; the Insider
guides absorb the information.
Walking into the
final bunker on our tour, known during the Nazi period as “Zeppelin”
and during the Cold War as “Ranet”.
The two photos above
show us walking into the “Zeppelin/Ranet” bunker, which was built
in 1937-39. It was the communications bunker and post office of the
High Command of the German armed forces during World War Two. The
bunker was manned around the clock. It was built 20m deep underground
and during the Cold War the Soviets expanded the bunker to make it
nuclear, biologically and chemically (NBC) protected from attacks.
Werner shows us how
this bunker connected the Soviets to all the communication hubs
around Europe during the Cold War – a fascinating place!
The last photo is of
a section of the pneumatic post system used in the Nazi complex to
link Maybach 1, Maybach 2 and the Zeppelin bunker. The cylinders put
in these tubes reached a speed of 9m per second, providing a secure
means of communicating rapidly between the various operational
bunkers of the OKW.
enjoyed our tour through the bunker complex in Wünsdorf, and would
recommend the tour to visitors to Berlin as a potential day trip out
of the city.
It is easy to get to
Zossen by train or with a private vehicle. For further information,
you can visit their website here: