Haus der Offiziere Germany abandoned Nazi Soviet Featured Image

Haus der Offiziere, Germany

Haus der Offiziere is an abandoned former military base in Germany. The first buildings on this site date back to the early German Empire in the 1800s. It slowly became one of the largest military bases in Europe by the start of World War 1, where it was used as a POW camp. After World War 1 an army sports academy was established, where athletes trained for the Olympics. The base was expanded in the 1930s when Hitler and the Nazis came to power and formed the headquarters of German Wehtmacht (unified Nazi military forces) on this site. The military base was expanded during the Nazi World War 2 campaign, with many operations being conducted from underground communications bunkers beneath the base.

Soviets occupied after the war, and the base became a key military outpost once again during the Cold War. The base was converted into a Soviet controlled closed town and by 1970s 75,000 Soviets lived here, including a lot of families and non-military personnel. A fully functioning city had been developed, with daily trains to and from Moscow bringing in goods and supplies allowing the town to operate autonomously from the surrounding areas. While interaction with the surrounding area was kept to a minimum, East Germans often bribed guards for entry to take advantage of the cheaper Soviet goods like cigarettes and alcohol. Most inhabitants left soon after the Berlin wall fell and Germany became unified, and the Soviet Union began to dissolve. The town was abandoned in mid-1990s when the last dregs of the Soviet Red Army returned home.

Nowadays a lot of the buildings around Haus der Offiziere have been converted back into housing or demolished. A statue of Lenin stares blankly across an overgrown lawn which marks the former parade ground. The Olympic-standard swimming pool is missing most of the tiles, the shower rooms are silent. Murals decorate walls and corridors with distinct Soviet themes, such as industrial scenes and nuclear atom motifs. Rare German/Nazi murals still exist but these are poorly preserved and mostly peeling away. A Communist stone carving depicts a mother and child flanked by two Soviet soldiers. There is an impressive theatre, with seat numbers in Cyrillic alphabet.

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