May 4, 2018
Written by Rebecca Whitaker
I am a student in the best German language school in Berlin and yesterday I visited a piece of Berlin’s Cold War history at Teufelsberg; a former spy station turned interactive art space.
It was quite easy to get to there from my home in Schöneberg. I took the S-Bahn to Messe Nord Station, then the M49 bus to Scholzplatz.
Teufelsberg is located within Grunewald forest, so the next step was to walk through some beautiful trails. It was a great surprise when I saw the big white domes of the observatory through the trees.
The site occupies the second highest elevation in the city, but this “mountain” is actually man-made. After the Second World War, one third of Berlin’s buildings had been destroyed, and after clearing the city, much of that rubble ended up in Grunewald. By 1972, the mountain had reached its present height and the American allies identified the British occupied site as a prime location for radar reception, aka espionage.
After an uphill hike to the top, I passed three layers of barbed wire fencing and entered the site of the listening station known as Teufelsberg; now a public space and the city’s largest street art gallery.
Like so much of Berlin, present and past has merged together here. Here it takes the form of dilapidated military buildings covered with graffiti and found object sculpture. A space originally used for division and fear has been reclaimed here for art and celebration. I felt a transformative energy as I walked through the space and realized that nothing lasts forever, but we can look to the past to inform our future.