Ramble On

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Teufelsberg - Berlin's "Devil's Mountain"

By coincidence, right on the tail of all those posts last week about Cold War sites in Berlin, Wired magazine's website has a post about another one. 

This location is on another rubble heap on the west side of Berlin; the heap is known as Teufelsberg (literally, the Devil's Mountain) (thanks to Werner for the spell check!  I corrected the spelling in the post title), or T-berg, as we affectionately called it.  The photo is a web image from back in the day, I think this is from the '80's - by the way, say what you want about the funny shapes (I didn't save the source - please let me know if you recognize it as yours and I will credit you).  A link to the Wired post is as follows:

I never worked there, but I had friends who did - both Air Force and Army.  My cousin, who was in the Army, actually worked here and overlapped with my time in Berlin, as a matter of fact.  The story goes that there were British Army folks working here, too.

In 1983 I was assigned to an R&D project that involved a two day orientation on what my friends were working on, but I'd be hard pressed to remember any of that now - but I do remember that their jobs were as fun as mine was at Marienfelde, and the camaraderie was every bit as strong.

Thinking about the presence of the Brits here reminds me of an anecdote.  The British Exchange sent a daily "tea wagon" up to the hill in the morning.  If I remember correctly, it was called the NAFI NAAFI Truck (if anyone has the correct spelling, please leave a comment!) (for Navy, Army and Air Force Institutes - thanks Brian!), and twice a day it offered tea and uniquely British snack foods, like crumpets and biscuits...although with an American clientele, they added donuts and the like.  In the American vernacular, we'd more likely call the vehicle a "roach coach" - except we didn't out of our vast respect for our British friends.

As NAFI NAAFI Truck time approached, work at T-berg pretty much came to a halt, while everyone organized orders and assigned who would go down to stand in line.  This usually meant two or three people would go together so they could share the load carrying back the stash.  You can imagine the long lines - even during the winter - for that truck, when it would pull in to the area just left of center where the two driveways are in the photo above.

We had no such luxuries at Marienfelde.  However, we had a prank for new people on their first midnight shift.  During the first night's work for the unsuspecting newbie, the rusty old timers would talk about the donut truck that would be around in the morning down the hill.  There would be a big deal about making an order and assigning a newbie or two to collect the list and then go down to wait. 

Needless to say, the groups that were lucky enough to have newbies during the winter midnight shifts, who could send those folks out into the cold, dark mornings...well, good times.

It's interesting that this building has been left standing in this skeletal condition.  I recall that it is visible up on that ridge from the new dome at the Reichstag. Friends and acquaintances have actually made the trip back from time to time, so the Wired article wasn't the first of the images I'd seen.

I like adding a video of these old sites - here's one from earlier this year (2011)...you may prefer to turn the sound off if you don't like the accompanying music.  As I watched this, I remembered a little bit more about my day inside the building in 1983: it was a technical building, and there were raised floors over all those now bare concrete slabs. 

1 comment:

Baltika 4 said...

NAAFI is the correct spelling. It stands for Navy, Army and Air Force Institutes and is the British equivalent to AAFES and MWR combined: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Navy,_Army_and_Air_Force_Institutes