A Journey Through Vogelsang: Once USSR's Massive East German Nuclear Military Base, And Now A Ghost Town

Tyler Durden's picture

And now for something completely different. Instead of scary tales of horrifying Math 101 (soon to be banned in one of the many upcoming Eurosummits), which confirms that no matter how it is spun, the global reality is ugly and getting worse (and ever more diluted in paper format), courtesy of Spiegel we present a photographic journey through Vogelsang: formerly one of the biggest Soviet military garrisons housing nuclear weapons and numerous nuclear launch pads, home of the 25th tank division protecting the USSR's most prized external asset, located in the forest near Berlin and housing over 15,000 people. It is now a surreal ghost town, and as haunted as any of the "cities" one can find deep in China.

From Spiegel:

Vogelsang is not exactly a boomtown. Located just northwest of Berlin, it has a mere 100 residents and a tiny train station. It is extremely quiet.

 

But in the forest nearby, there is a different Vogelsang. It its day, it was completely autonomous from the nearby village, had its own residential buildings, cinemas, warehouses and even a school. Some 15,000 people once lived there, and it was seldom quiet. The second Vogelsang was the home of Soviet troops, the warehouses were crammed full of tanks, howitzers and all-terrain vehicles. The cinemas were for the soldiers' families.

 

Vogelsang, one of the largest Soviet garrisons outside of the Soviet Union, was the base of the 25th tank division. For almost 40 year, soldiers belonging to the Group of Soviet Forces in Germany lived here -- until they finally withdrew in 1994.

 

Sine then, Vogelsang has been left to the elements, a ghost town in the middle of the Brandenburg forest. And yet, two decades after the last light was switched off, there is still plenty of life at the site. Deer and raccoon roam among the trees as do feral sheep and goats.

 

The barracks too still hint at the life they once contained. While most look the same from the outside, plenty of differences can be seen on the inside. The type of heating within, for example, indicates whether they housed officers or mere foot soldiers. The former tended to have decorative, tiled wood stoves instead of simple potbelly stoves. Window grates in the form of a shining sun likewise provided a bit of ornamentation.

 

The residential buildings, similar to the gigantic halls housing military equipment and vehicles, were painted in standard shades of gray, blue, green, yellow and sometimes even pink. The resulting mixture is a photographer's dream.

 

One part of the facility was sealed off from the rest, surrounded by high walls and barbed wire. It housed the prison, full of tiny cells, some of them with no window. The only furnishing was a wooden bench that stretched from wall to wall, leaving little open space in the cell. It is difficult to believe that people were locked into the rooms, but messages scratched into the walls continue to bear testament to their former prisoners.

What will be the ghost towns of 2034?

Vogelsang, the forgotten city near Berlin, is little more than ruins today. But...
Vogelsang, the forgotten city near Berlin, is little more than ruins today. But from 1952 to 1994, it was one of the biggest Soviet military bases in the world. Here, a decaying sports hall.

 

The Soviets used to hold atomic weapons at Vogelsang -- ready to strike at a...
The Soviets used to hold atomic weapons at Vogelsang -- ready to strike at a moments notice. This crumbling fresco of Russian astronauts serves as a reminder of the former might of the USSR.

 

A derelict kitchen. The site is full of reminders of the life it was once...
A derelict kitchen. The site is full of reminders of the life it was once filled with.

 

The buildings did not only house soliders but their families too. Pictured here...
The buildings did not only house soliders but their families too. Pictured here is an abandoned classroom in the school that was built on the site.

 

Construction at the site began in 1951. This image shows the entrance to the...
Construction at the site began in 1951. This image shows the entrance to the on-site medical care facility.

 

Quitely rusting away: Pictured here are the old coal ovens that used to heat...
Quitely rusting away: Pictured here are the old coal ovens that used to heat the buildings.

 

A wall in one of the dining rooms is still adorned with a traditional Russian...
A wall in one of the dining rooms is still adorned with a traditional Russian scene once intended to remind soldiers of home.

 

The obligatory frieze of Lenin likewise adorns one of the walls on the site.
The obligatory frieze of Lenin likewise adorns one of the walls on the site.

 

Another view into the boiler room. Some 15,000 soldiers and civilians lived on...
Another view into the boiler room. Some 15,000 soldiers and civilians lived on the site.

 

An abandoned pool where the former inhabitants used to soak.
An abandoned pool where the former inhabitants used to soak.

 

A memento of days past: Here a jacket still hangs on a nail in the boiler room.

A memento of days past: Here a jacket still hangs on a nail in the boiler room.

 

An empty mess hall, completely emptied of tables and life.
An empty mess hall, completely emptied of tables and life.

 

Vogelsang also had plenty of facilities to provide for residents'...
Vogelsang also had plenty of facilities to provide for residents' entertainment. This room used to be a theater, even if nothing is left to indicated its former use.

 

This staircase leading to the theater would once have serviced uniformed...
This staircase leading to the theater would once have serviced uniformed officers and their companions on their way to watch a show.

 

The Soviets took a lot of material home, but some things, such as the sinks...The Soviets took a lot of material home, but some things, such as the sinks pictured here, remained.

 

A room that used to serve as an office, now empty, surrounded by forest outside.
A room that used to serve as an office, now empty, surrounded by forest outside.

 

The glass may be broken on this window at Vogelsang but the metal bars remain.

The glass may be broken on this window at Vogelsang but the metal bars remain.

 

An empty wheelbarrow lies abandoned on the grounds. Vogelsang was the base of...

An empty wheelbarrow lies abandoned on the grounds. Vogelsang was the base of the 25th tank division.

There is nothing left to indicate what this room may have been used for during...

There is nothing left to indicate what this room may have been used for during the Soviet era.

 

The inhabitants were afforded different levels of comfort depending on their...

The inhabitants were afforded different levels of comfort depending on their status. While officers warmed themselves at tiled ovens, lower-ranking soliders had to make due with improvised, potbelly stoves such as this one.

 

Nature is slowly reclaiming the site.
Nature is slowly reclaiming the site.

 

A former prison cell. The only thing that remains is the graffiti the unlucky...

A former prison cell. The only thing that remains is the graffiti the unlucky prisoners scrawled on the walls.

 

A chair at the end of the hall by the prison cells.
A chair at the end of the hall by the prison cells.

 

A tree grows inside the building as the forest reclaims what it once owned.
A tree grows inside the building as the forest reclaims what it once owned.

 

Here a shot of an abandoned bath in the afternoon sunlight.
Here a shot of an abandoned bath in the afternoon sunlight.

 

Most of the furnishings have vanished from Vogelsang. Some, however, like this...

Most of the furnishings have vanished from Vogelsang. Some, however, like this stool, remain.

 

A window quietly leans against a decaying wall.
A window quietly leans against a decaying wall.

 

A pail lies rusting in the doorway, where it was abandoned decades ago.
A pail lies rusting in the doorway, where it was abandoned decades ago.

 

Vogelsang Soviet Nuclear Missile Launch Pads - photo 1
Vogelsang Soviet Nuclear Missile Launch Pads - photo 2