MY NEAREST MOUNTAIN – CRAZY TEUFELSBERG IN BERLIN

Today, I would like to introduce you to the mountainous aspects of Berlin. Downtown there are of course some quite higher tops like Kreuzberg and Prenzlauer Berg which make me thinking of the funny film dealing about an English man who climbed on a hill and came down a mountain (that’s also the film’s title).

Postcard with view from Kreuzberg in 1866

But the nearest and more well-known and highest elevation of Berlin is Teufelsberg / Devil’s Mountain in the huge municipal forest Grunewald and just 2 km distant from my home – even with rising sea levels a safe place due to an actual height of unbelievable 120.1 m, a location which also offers an interesting and surprising history.

Deceptive idyll on Teufelsberg in June 2018

Being geologically one of the youngest mountains worldwide, the 50th birthday of the location has just passed by, a critical age where a lot may change usually in the course of times as the following pictures of the site do clearly suggest.

Today Teufelsberg a center of urban art, the very last mutation of a bizarre place.

But let’s see what happened before here. At the end of WW II you would simply find a flat forest and the bombed rests of a big building formerly used by the German Wehrmacht as a military academy. This place was lying in the British sector of (West)-Berlin where no German army was allowed till the early 1990s when the special status of the city ended with the German unification. So nobody had any use for these military ruins left by the Nazis.

Ruins of Wehrtechnische Fakultät at Teufelsseechaussee

Vast areas of the town were also destroyed as a result of WW II, so this was declared as a place where all the debris and rubble of smashed houses would be brought till the late 1960s, in total 26 million cubic meters of waste material piled up to a new mountain getting the name Teufelsberg  because the site is lying at the road Teufelsseechausee leading finally to natural lake Teufelssee.

A truck transporting rubble to Teufelsberg, December 1951

Nature took quickly control of this dump, so today the mountain is covered by a wild nature and secondary forest. And the people of West-Berlin used the new mountain also for leisure like  snow sports as it was difficult to go elsewhere for quite long time due to the Wall of Berlin surrounding them till 1989.

Ski lift on Teufelsberg (120.1 m), Winter 1961

Down the mountain’s not too long slope, December 1981

But the mountain has also been the last listening post of the Cold War. In the years 1968 the American army seized the complete top area of the mountain and erected till 1969 a radar and monitoring station for intelligence purposes such as controlling telephone conversations in the former German Democratic Republic. The secret name of these constructing and supervising ambitions was Project Filman. The last and fifth tower was built and finalized in 1989 shortly before the political transitions and opening of the Wall of Berlin. With the unificiation of Germany this complex was no longer required, the American army left the place in 1991 changing the area to a mere ghost town.

Teufelsberg radar and monitoring station by US-army in the 1980s

Path around the complex through the secondary forest, June 2018

Pioneer plants conquered the place in the time being which grew in the cracks of the asphalt and even settled on roofs. Undemanding plants such as the evening primrose, the stonecrop or the elder have laid the groundwork that it is today very green on top of the Teufelsberg. The complex was sold to an investor who planned a hotel and luxury appartments on the mountain. But after getting many millions of loan for the project from the banks, he was never seen again in the city. Some years ago this area has also been declared as forestrial land making impossible such luxury projects in the future. 

One of the decaying radiation domes, August 2019

Colorful wildness of the ruins, August 2019

The abandoned and still militarywise fenced place attracted of course the urban art and graffiti community. So in the ruins you find today a vast diversity of amazing colorant works of any kind. The domes can no longer be visited due to their bad conditions, but the unique complex is huge and can be visited against payment of an entrance fee. Meanwhile another change, the city awarded this wild site the relevant status of a real protected monument. So history can be just fabulous sometimes!

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Tuesday Photo Challenge – City

 

HISTORICAL MURALS OF BERLIN, 1965-1989

In the 1970s, the graffiti scene, inspired by the burgeoning hip-hop movement, finally developed in the New York underground. Within a few months it became a gigantic wave that spilled over to Europe. The punks and hip-hop took streetart to their strongholds of London and Amsterdam, from where they arrived in West-Berlin.

View on newly erected houses at Stalinallee, Berlin-Friedrichshain, 1963

Wall frieze by Walter Womacka
House of the Teacher, Berlin-Mitte, 1965

Also in East-Berlin there were forms of street art, however, the artists were severely restricted in their freedom and had to be in strict compliance with mandated socialist realism as to be seen here on the wall frieze by Walter Womacka from the 1960s. Political slogans were also painted on houses and walls of East-Berlin but usually immediately removed by state security. The Berlin Wall initially only presents itself as a huge screen in West-Berlin, onto which political slogans, murals and later graffiti are painted and sprayed from the 1970s.


The dividing Wall of Berlin, 1961-1989

Wall frieze by Walter Womacka
House of the Teacher, Berlin-Mitte, 1965

In its beginnings streetart found many advocates. The Second World War had left many traces in Berlin in the form of firewalls and bomb blanks, which could be concealed by the murals. The politicians promoted the street art projects in West-Berlin with design programs and competitions like Kunst am Bau. Numerous artists brought different styles and techniques with them, the goal was an active intervention in the cityscape.

Ben Wagin, “World Tree”
Berlin-Tiergarten, 1977/2018

It all started with a moaning tree being surrounded by violent car exhausts. The environmental work Weltbaum (World Tree) by Ben Wagin was the first big mural realized at the Western part of Berlin in 1977. Due to construction works it can no longer be seen at its original place. Therefore, it was painted and reconstructed again in May 2018 at a suitable building in Lehrter Str.

Gert Neuhaus, “Zipper”
Berlin-Charlottenburg, 1979

Marilyn Green, Rainer Warzecha and Christoph Böhm
“Model Germany”, Berlin-Kreuzberg, 1981

Political slogans painted or sprayed on house walls have always been part of political movements, not only since the West-German squatter movement of the 1970s and 1980s, which makes intensive use of this means of expression. The squatter movement was especially strong and active in West-Berlin where many houses were unused, empty or in very bad condition.

House ruin at Winterfeldplatz
Berlin-Schöneberg, 1981

Mural on a squatted house
KuKuck, Berlin-Kreuzberg, 1982

The works created in West-Berlin in the 1970s and lateron by the squatter movement of the 1980s often had a political message – such as the “World Tree” by Ben Wagin or the now-defunct Mural “Model Germany” by Marilyn Green, Rainer Warzecha and Christoph Böhm. Illusion painting was also very popular. One example is the still existing gable “Zipper” by the artist Gert Neuhaus.

Sigurd Wendland, “Potsdamer Str. 1945”
WW II bunker, Berlin-Schöneberg, 1983

Harald Juch, “Chernobyl Disaster”
Berlin-Schöneberg, 1986

View on Kurfürstendamm
Berlin-Charlottenburg, 1987

Gert Neuhaus, “Phoenix”
Berlin-Charlottenburg, 1989

Illegal underground art existed by mutual agreement in addition to commissioned works, which were mostly awarded by housing associations. Sometimes the works also overlapped, often disappearing again. With the big political transitions starting in late 1989 a lot has changed in Berlin also in regard of urban art, but that’s still like that till today!

 

 

 

ELEMENTAL ABUNDANCE

You are crazy, my child.
You must go to Berlin.

Franz von Suppé, 1800

Especially in spring an irresistible desire for yet another unknown land emerges suddenly at dusk somewhere in the nowhere. Time for a small picture story of Berlin through enigmatic shallows and at multiple urban shores.

Can you hear me?

Word War II and the later division of Berlin have led to a lot of unused infrastructure, railways, empty factories and abandoned places till today. So there are really many possibilities getting lost in the labyrinth of the town.

Looking for enlightenment in a deserted factory at Treptow

Kitsch in an allotment garden at Charlottenburg

The city is changing quickly every day, but the spirit used to be indeed much more rebellious here in former times. Some wild street art reflects these eternal inflammatory ambitions sprouting from undergrounds.

Mural at Kreuzberg near Moritzplatz

Former railway tunnel at natural park Südgelände-Gleisdreieck

Large urban areas are covered with lakes and endless woods on sandy soil left by glaciers of the last ice age. Here the approaching predatory and brutal gentrification of many city districts does not play any role so far.

Krossinsee at Köpenick in early April

The journey is not yet over here – just a short excursion of my homeland today, thanks for reading.

Painting at Bernauer Str. reminding to Berlin’s division (1961-1989)

 

 

ANIMATED LIFE – COSMIC PHOTO CHALLENGE

Zig-Zag of life

The graphic is a digitally remastered and transmutated photo showing a crazy way for bikers in Berlin. This biking trail was painted on a not very large path being used normally by pedestrians, but here each 5 or 10 m you have to turn your bike to the right or left. A normal use tends to be quite impossible and you also risk an accident with pedestrians. So this created some great laughters and  the question whether the planner of this obstacle course in the local administration has been drunken or high when designing the same.

 

K’lee and Dale’s Cosmic Photo Challenge: An Anime_ted Life!

 

STROLL THROUGH WILD STREET-COLORS

Each place carries a history and tale untold which needs to be revealed and spread again. Rapidly the first syllables are being uttered by an archaic reflex leading to further mysterious signs and riddles at the next street-corner. When moving simply forward on these hazy paths of color a quaint monument can be reached at the vague horizon eventually.


https://restlessjo.me/2019/04/15/jos-monday-walk-zoo-zoo-zoomarine/

 

 

VEB KÜHLOMAT, BERLIN – WONDERLAND OF GRAFFITI

In fact this site in Berlin comprises one of the most weird locations which I have visualized and explored so far. What I am showing here is however not at all comprehensive as this huge premises tends to be more a wild industrial labyrinth of ruins in continuous change, a real adventure playground with varied looks and diverse risky ambitions.

The place is better known under its original name Flughafen Johannisthal and was in use as an airport until the early 50s of the last century. Being situated in the Eastern part of Berlin the facilities were then changed to a huge industrial production area of cooling devices by the administration of the former German Democratic Republic being called VEB Kühlomat. After the unification of Germany this industrial site was closed in the early 90s of the last century and set into a deep sleep till today.

I have visited the strange place in early September for a couple of hours and therefore only seen a part of the endless technical jungle where nature tries to cover all again quite quickly. Everywhere debris is lying in the way like thoughtful obstacles but more dangerous are unexpected holes in the grounds and the poor condition of the halls, hangars and buildings where several fires have occured in the recent years such making the site not safer and a bit spooky in general. 

So when loafing around this particular enchanted place several nervous and insisting noises always accompanied me on my obscure way so as if the ground was mourning and complaining about its fate – groaning wooden beams, dissolving walls and a curious sharp wind drifting around the next dilapidated corner leading to a contradictional but pure amazement overall.

The fabulous site attracts a lot of creative people as an open and free space for their multiple ambitions in the sector of murals and graffiti. And it is fascinating to realize how a little bit of colour can change a place of decay to something else and again completely  new. 

You may still find quite a lot of places like this in the German capital but the number is anyhow decreasing. So it is also not clear how long this site will exist in its actual shape furtheron because the building of new houses with urgent required appartments is planned here by the city for 2021. 

If you intend stepping into this labyrinth, it may be found in Berlin-Treptow at Segelfliegerdamm. You have only to look for options in order to cross the fence, such opportunities are always available somewhere.

 

Tuesday Photo Challenge – Our World