julia hodgson







The history of Teufelsberg (“Devil’s Mountain”) is short but strange. It begins during the Second World War, with the construction of a vast military academy in the sprawling Grunewald Forest, several kilometres west of Berlin. Under the supervision of Nazi architect Albert Speer, this was devised as part of Hitler’s vision of a grand capital on the scale of those of the ancient civilisations. This grand ambition was complemented by Speer’s developing theory of ruinvalue: by observing rigorous methods of construction, buildings could be created not as transient, utilitarian structures but with the ambition that, as they decay their ruins remain as future monuments to the power of their creators. Yet, following the onset of war with Stalinist Russia, shortage of raw materials dictated that construction must cease, and the academy was left unfinished.
In the wake of the war, British and American forces occupied the Grunewald region and formed plans to use the unfinished academy as an allied headquarters. However, the buildings could not be converted satisfactorily, and so they attempted to demolish them using explosives. The solid stone structures, built with eternity in mind, withstood the blasts. An alternative solution was therefore executed: the rubble of tens of thousands of Berlin’s bombed buildings was piled atop to conceal the site, and covered with grass seed. Rising 80m above the Brandenburg plains, Devil’s Mountain was born, and with its unbounded views to the communist East, became home to one of the NSA’s key radar
stations and listening posts in the ECHELON network.
Within decades, the cold war ended and the buildings were stripped of their equipment and left derelict. Germany’s economic boom led a trail of venture capitalists to the site, who invested several million dollars to develop the site into a business and leisure complex. However, the economy began to sink, and Teufelsberg was once more abandoned.

by Daniel Jones

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