Since I have been living in Berlin it is not only the urban wastelands which have piqued my interest, but also abandoned buildings and plots of land. Berlin invites you to discover these like no other city. Not only because there are some real treasures, but also because the changes in the city, its history, the division, were and are extremely palpable in those locations. Two of the best known places of this type are the former allies’ communications intercept station on the Teufelsberg and the abandoned fun park in Plänterwald. However, both have already been partly converted to tourist attractions and you will probably know of them by now in any case. I would like to show you 3 highlights from my collection.
Former military barracks Krampnitz
The abandoned barracks are hidden along the Federal Route 2 on the way towards Potsdam, opposite the Krampnitz lake – completely overgrown and hardly noticeable when you look from the outside, however, at the entry a picture on the front wall representing the Russian army gives a hint of what is to come. The facility hidden behind it was built by the Nazis between 1937 and 1939. The Soviets subsequently took it over after the war and abandoned it again in 1992. A huge area which seems to be an almost endless and bewitched labyrinth – preserved history in a battle with nature. Quentin Tarantino was obviously impressed by this as well and visited there with the Inglourious Basterds. You should definitely expect to spend a fair bit of time on such an excursion. One thing you will absolutely need in order to take non-blurry, sharp pictures where there is little light, for example inside the buildings: a lightweight tripod for your camera.
VEB chemical factory Coswig, production unit Rüdersdorf – former feed phosphate processing plant
The factory was shut down in 2000. After the ‘Wende’, the German reunification, it was no longer considered to be economically viable. Now, it has been entirely left to nature; it has been gutted completely, there is nowhere you could even attach a magnet. What is left is a menacing and mighty industrial skeleton reminiscent of respective film sets. The former factory is in Rüdersdorf, close to the boundary to Berlin.
Iraqi embassy in the GDR – Tschaikowskistrasse 51
A veritable time travel experience awaits one in the middle of the Berlin district Pankow. The embassy was abandoned in 1991, after the end of the second Gulf War – it seems to have happened from one day to the next. Papers and files are still strewn all over the place, at some stage there was a fire, it seems as though one or two parties have been held here as well, and, naturally, the weather is also attacking the structure of the building.
These places offer the opportunity to travel into the past and enable us photographers to conserve that which still remains.
If you are taking analog photos using a film, make sure you take light-sensitive films (ASA 800) so that you can be more flexible in these situations where the light is oftentimes difficult; speaking about light: don’t forget to take a torch on these expeditions.
Florian Reischauer has been living and working as a photographer in Berlin since 2007. Pieces of Berlin, a blog about everyday life in Berlin, is one of his main projects.