When visiting Berlin it’s important if you wish to explore an abandoned place that it’s not all about the SpreePark (the abandoned amusement park in Treptow). There’s plenty more of Berlin's abandoned buildings on offer, that isn’t as risky to get into and as disappointing.

10406701_10155302138475136_7127364506829787092_n

 

                                                       photo credit Instagram - @SimonAsquith


Thanks to its long and diverse history of extremes there are many remnants of history left in Berlin both from the Nazi era and also the Soviet occupation. Few buildings share a history with both these extremes, but one that does is the abandoned tank works in Bernau, just a twenty-minute train journey from the city centre.

 

11070140_10155302138940136_7615363242030249437_n

                                                                                                           photo credit Instagram - @SimonAsquith


It’s here in this large complex of tumbled down buildings that, during the Nazi-era uniforms were made and cleaned before the buildings were repurposed from April of 1945 until the fall of the soviet empire as a tank works and barracks.

 

The scale of this complex is daunting. A once pristine and ordered complex is now slowly being reclaimed by the earth as trees push through the concrete and slowly weaken its structure. Yet the abandoned tank works is one of the easiest and safest places to explore if you crave a little bit of adventure and risk, just don’t venture to the basement, that is unless you have scuba equipment handy as the entire lower level is underwater.

11139775_10155302139080136_8008713226137379920_n

                                                                                                                   photo credit Instagram - @SimonAsquith


Entrance is easy, just hop over one of the many broken and fallen down pieces of fence and you’re in. Walk into the main building through large brick arches above which the red star still adorns, although not quite as gleaming as it would be twenty-six years ago, then turn into the building through one of the many open doorways.

 

Inside it could be handy to have a Russian speaker as the soviets seemed to have had an obsession of pasting newspapers on the wall and many of the walls still display soviet propaganda slogans. The slogans, today, are contrasted with hefty amounts of graffiti and street art, the large bare walls are the perfect canvas for artists wanting to share their work or display a point.

1009955_10155302140075136_927511281872655999_n

                                                                                                                  photo credit Instagram- @SimonAsquith


Continue pushing on and venture up the staircases and at the top under the concrete beams you’ll discover endless basketball courts. In some places, it's evident that someone has tried to clean the courts to use them again but their efforts fell short and most of the space is covered in guarno. The birds also add to the atmosphere. As you wander through your mind can start to play tricks as sounds reverberate through the cast empty spaces but in most cases these are the birds but remember they might not be, even though this building has remained empty since the fall of communism entrance to this building is still, well and truly, “verboten.”

11070987_10155302139710136_2979526484106066287_n

                                                                                                                 photo credit Instagram - @SimonAsquith


Besides from the gigantic main building, there are many more smaller places that will grab your interest. From abandoned railway cars (repurposed apparently by a homeless person), rusting and rotting machines, shower-halls and also a few buildings that have been burnt out in their more recent history. However if you expect to find any remains of old soviet tanks you will be sorely disappointed. Even as the soviet empire collapsed and the new Russian Federation pulled out its troops and equipment they were still thorough and all that this explorer could find were a gear assembly and clutch box. Yet you’ll be surprised by the amount of uniforms that are still within.

549431_10155302139310136_6172103624581545016_n

                                                                                                         photo credit Instagram - @SimonAsquith


The reason this building has remained empty? Since the fall of the Berlin the German federal government doesn’t see a use in this property, maybe through costs of repurposing it being too high or because of the extremes of history this building has played host to. But inside you will find the sense, as you see coats still hanging on the walls, that the last soviet soldiers just picked up and left leaving behind a legacy that now plays host to the thrill seekers, artists and the curious.

 

By Simon James Asquith