SIGHT­SEE­ING

Breath­ing in the fresh air at the top of Teufels­berg, Annabelle Mal­lia feels the charge of his­tory be­neath her feet.

Where Berlin - - CONTENTS -

Who would have thought Ber­lin's high­est moun­tain grew out of a pile of rub­bish?

Gaz­ing out at the mar­velous view from atop Teufels­berg hill in Grunewald for­est, it’s hard to be­lieve that this man-made “moun­tain” was cre­ated out of 25 mil­lion cu­bic me­ters of WWII rub­ble. As you might imag­ine, 363 air raids and about 69,000 tons of bombs over five years must have done quite some dam­age to the city. Thirty-three per­cent of Ber­lin was de­stroyed, and the war de­bris had to go some­where. When the Sovi­ets ar­rived, they de­cided to move what was left of en­tire neigh­bor­hoods to this des­o­late spot in the mid­dle of the for­est, where a half- com­pleted Nazi mil­i­tary tech­ni­cal col­lege al­ready stood. That com­plex was prov­ing too sturdy to de­mol­ish, so it was eas­ier to just cover it up. Teufels­berg must have looked unim­pres­sive at the be­gin­ning, but once the green­ery grew over, the 115-me­ter-high moun­tain be­came a pic­turesque hill in flat Ber­lin – and the city’s high­est point. In no time, it also be­came a prime spot for a ski jump. In the 1950s, Amer­i­can sol­diers and later the Na­tional Se­cu­rity Agency, search­ing for the best van­tage point to in­ter­cept Soviet and East Ger­man mil­i­tary air­waves, set up post and built one of their largest lis­ten­ing sta­tions here, which con­tin­ued to op­er­ate un­til the fall of the Ber­lin Wall. The ski jump was re­moved as it al­legedly dis­turbed the ra­dio sig­nals, but the five large radar domes still re­main to­day, though heav­ily run down and van­dal­ized. The site is cur­rently fenced off and manned by guards, so don’t try and ex­plore on your own, but visit on a guided tour in­stead (www.ber­liner-teufels­berg.com). Since the Wall fell, this has also be­come a recre­ational spot for lo­cals, who come here to fly kites, paraglide, and hike all year round. The nearby Teufelssee Lake (from which the moun­tain gets its name) is great for swim­ming, if you don’t mind nu­dity, and in win­ter the area is per­fect for to­bog­gan­ing and snow­ball fights.

"It's hard to be­lieve this 'moun­tain' was cre­ated out of WWII rub­ble."

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