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Open in Dec. 2023

Teufelsberg: Late 1963


Circa 1975: archive view of Teufelsberg Field Station Berlin. There are now 4 radomes operating on the hill. Note the inter-connecting passageway between the radomes on building #1458. It was in 1975 that the zig-zag row of windows were built on top of the warehouse to create a mess hall (lower left of photograph)


Teufelsberg: 1962

Erase the History

After the Communist putsch in the city parliament of Greater Berlin (for all four sectors of Berlin) in September 1948, separate parliaments and magistrates (German: Magistrat von Groß-Berlin; city government) were formed for East and West Berlin. This also ended much of the cooperation between West Berlin and the state of Brandenburg, surrounding West Berlin in the North, West and South.


While part of the rubble from destroyed quarters in East Berlin was deposited outside the city boundary, all the debris from West Berlin had to be dumped within the western boundary. Due to the shortage of fuel in West Berlin, the rubble transport stopped during the Berlin Blockade. 

Although there are many similar man-made rubble mounds in Germany (see Schuttberg) and other war-torn cities of Europe, Teufelsberg is unique in that the never completed Nazi military-technical college (Wehrtechnische Fakultät) designed by Albert Speer is buried beneath. The Allies tried using explosives to demolish the school, but it was so sturdy that covering it with debris turned out to be easier. In June 1950 the West Berlin Magistrate decided to open a new rubble disposal on that site. The disposal was planned for 12 million m3 (16 million cu yd).


With the end of material shortages after the blockade, an average of 600 trucks deposited 6,800 m3 (8,900 cu yd) of material daily. On 14 November 1957, the ten millionth cubic metre arrived.


The site was closed to dumping in 1972, leaving approximately 26 million cubic metres (34 million cubic yards) of debris, and to a lesser extent construction waste. The Senate of (West) Berlin opted to plant greenery on the hill as a beautification project. 

Field Station Berlin

In July 1961, mobile Allied listening units began operations on Teufelsberg, having surveyed various other locales throughout West Berlin in a search for the best vantage point for listening to Soviet, East German, and other Warsaw Pact nations’ military traffic. They found that operations from atop Teufelsberg offered a marked improvement in listening ability. This discovery eventually led to a large structure being built atop the hill, which would come to be run by the NSA (National Security Agency). 

Construction of a permanent facility was begun in October 1963. At the request of the US government, the ski lifts were removed because they allegedly disturbed the signals. The station continued to operate until the fall of East Germany and the Berlin Wall, but after that the station was closed and the equipment removed. 

In the 1990s, as Berlin experienced an economic boom after German reunification, a group of investors bought the former listening station area from the City of Berlin with the intention to build hotels and apartments. There was talk of preserving the listening station as a spy museum. Berlin's building boom produced a glut of buildings, however, and the Teufelsberg project became unprofitable. The construction project was then aborted. As of the early 2000s, there has been talk of the city buying back the hill. However, this is unlikely, as the area is encumbered with a mortgage of nearly 50 million dollars. The site has been heavily covered in graffiti since the company abandoned the project. Since 1996, the site has been privately owned and is currently fenced off from the surrounding forest. In the summer of 2016, landlord Marvin Schutte opened the site to visitors who are able to climb the listening station towers and admire the ever-evolving "street art gallery" that fills the site's abandoned buildings.

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