Teufelsberg

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Teufelsberg
Funkturm Berlin View 13.jpg
Former US listening station on the top of the hill
Elevation 120.1 m (394 ft)
Translation Devil's mountain (German)
Location
Teufelsberg is located in Berlin
Teufelsberg
Teufelsberg
The location within Berlin
Location Berlin, Germany
Coordinates 52°29′51″N 13°14′28″E / 52.49750°N 13.24111°E / 52.49750; 13.24111Coordinates: 52°29′51″N 13°14′28″E / 52.49750°N 13.24111°E / 52.49750; 13.24111

The Teufelsberg (German for Devil's Mountain) is a hill in Berlin, Germany, in the Grunewald locality of former West Berlin. It rises about 80 metres (260 ft) above the surrounding Brandenburg plain, more precisely the north of Berlin's Grunewald Forest. It was named after the Teufelssee (i.e. Devil's lake) in its southerly vicinity.

History[edit]

It is an artificial hill with a curious history: It was heaped up after the Second World War from part of the rubble of Berlin, approximately 75,000,000 m3 (98,000,000 cu yd) all over the city, during the following twenty years as the city was cleared and rebuilt. After the Communist putsch in the city parliament of Greater Berlin (for all four sectors of Berlin) in September 1948, separate parliaments and magistrates (German: Magistrat von Groß Berlin; city government) were formed for East and West Berlin. This also ended much of the cooperation between West Berlin and the state of Brandenburg, surrounding West Berlin in the North, West and South.[1]

While part of the rubble from destroyed quarters in East Berlin was deposited outside the city boundary, all the debris from West Berlin had to be dumped within the western boundary.[1] Due to the shortage of fuel in West Berlin the rubble transport stopped during the Berlin Blockade.[2]

Its origin does not in itself make Teufelsberg unique, as there are many similar man-made rubble mounds in Germany (see Schuttberg) and other war-torn cities of Europe. The curiousness begins with what is buried underneath the hill: the never completed Nazi military-technical college (Wehrtechnische Fakultät) designed by Albert Speer. The Allies tried using explosives to demolish the school, but it was so sturdy that covering it with debris turned out to be easier. In June 1950 the West Berlin Magistrate decided to open a new rubble disposal on that site.[1] The disposal was planned for 12,000,000 m3 (16,000,000 cu yd).[1]

With the end of material shortages after the blockade the site was accessed by an average of 600 trucks daily, depositing 6,800 m3 (8,900 cu yd) a day.[1] On 14 November 1957 the ten millionth cubic metre arrived.[1] When in 1972 the site was closed to dumping, about 26,000,000 m3 (34,000,000 cu yd) of rubble, and to a lesser extent construction waste had been deposited there. The Senate of Berlin (West) then decided to plant greenery on it. The Teufelsberg was originally thought to be only 115 metres (377 ft) meters high, as high as the highest natural elevation (Großer Müggelberg, cf. Müggelberge) within the borders of greater Berlin, and was the highest point in West Berlin.[3] New measurements show that Teufelsberg is actually 120.1 metres (394 ft) meters high,[4][5] making it higher than Großer Müggelberg.

Westerly slopes of the Teufelsberg were already earlier used. In February 1955 a 24 m long (79 ft) ski jump opened, designed by the ski jumper and architect Heini Klopfer.[6] On 4 March 1962 a bigger ski jump opened offering space for 5,000 spectators.[6] After 1969 no more big ski jumps were held and the ski jumps fell into decay and were removed in 1999.[6]

Teufelsberg has been a location for several recent movies and television programmes, such as The Gamblers, Covert Affairs (2nd season episode titled "Uberlin") and We Are the Night in which the finale takes place on Teufelsberg.

As in the whole of Grunewald Forest, wild boar frequently roam the hill.

Listening Station: Field Station Berlin[edit]

Some of the radomes of the former NSA listening station on top of the Teufelsberg

The US National Security Agency (NSA) built one of its largest listening stations atop the hill, rumored to be part of the global ECHELON intelligence gathering network. "The Hill", as it was known colloquially by the many American soldiers who worked there around the clock and who commuted there from their quarters in the American Sector, was located in the British Sector. In July 1961, Mobile Allied listening units began operations on Teufelsberg,[4][7] having surveyed various other locales throughout West Berlin in a search for the best vantage point for listening to Soviet, East German, and other Warsaw Pact nations military traffic. They found that operations from atop Teufelsberg offered a marked improvement in listening ability. This discovery eventually led to a large structure being built atop the hill, which would come to be run by the NSA (National Security Agency). Construction of a permanent facility was begun in October 1963.[7] At the request of US government, the ski lifts were removed because they allegedly disturbed the signals. The station continued to operate until the fall of East Germany and the Berlin Wall, but after that the station was closed and the equipment removed. The buildings and radar domes still remain in place.

During the NSA Operations some other curious things happened: It was noticed that during certain times the reception of the radio signals was better than during the rest of the year. The 'culprit' was found after a while: it was the Ferris wheel of the annual German-American Volksfest Festival on the Hüttenweg in Zehlendorf.[8] From then on, the Ferris wheel was left standing for some time after the festival was over. While there were rumors that the Americans had excavated a shaft down into the ruins beneath, that was never proven, and was likely based on reports that those who maintained equipment in one of the first enclosed antenna structures accessed the upper levels of the inflated dome via an airlock that led to a "tunnel" that was embedded in the structure's central column. Speculation as to what might have existed within the highly restricted area frequently gave rise to rather elaborate but false rumors; one theory stated that "the tunnel" was an underground escape route, another that it housed a submarine base.

50th Anniversary of the First Permanent Building on Tberg 1963-2013

In the 1990s, as Berlin experienced an economic boom after German reunification, a group of investors bought the former listening station area from the City of Berlin with the intention to build hotels and apartments. There was talk of preserving the listening station as a spy museum. Berlin's building boom produced a glut of buildings, however, and the Teufelsberg project became unprofitable. The construction project was then aborted. As of the early 2000s, there has been talk of the city buying back the hill. However, this is unlikely, as the area is encumbered with a mortgage of nearly 50 million dollars. Recently the site has been vandalized heavily since the company abandoned the project. The site is currently fenced off and manned by guards. However, public visits are possible through guided tours.

Following the announcement of plans to raze the facility and reforest the hill,[9] talk of preserving the facility resurfaced in 2009, spearheaded by the Field Station Berlin Veterans Group, which hopes to have the memorial named in honor of Major Arthur D. Nicholson, the last military Cold War casualty, the U.S. Military Liaison Mission tour officer who was shot and killed by a Russian sentry near Ludwigslust on March 24, 1985.[10] After no further construction was done after 2004, in 2006 the hilltop was categorized as forest in the land use plan of Berlin, thereby eliminating the possibility of building.[11]


In September 2013, U.S. Army Teufelsberg veterans marked the fiftieth anniversary (1963-2013) of the construction of the permanent buildings for Field Station Berlin atop Teufelsberg with a special Commemorative issue of Cinderella Stamps, and with the dedication of a commemorative plaque. The designer is T.H.E. Hill, the award winning author of two novels about Field Station Berlin.[12]

Novels about Field Station Berlin[edit]

Insiders[edit]

  • C Trick: Sort of a Memoir (memoir) by Don Cooper (2000). Republished and expanded in 2003 in soft-cover as Worth the Trip. Re-republished as C Trick in 2010 with a prologue, new epilogue, and four new chapters. An ASA German linguist at Field Station Berlin in the mid-1960s.
  • Death On Devil's Mountain (novel) by David Von Norden (pen name) (2009). ASA on Teufelsberg at Field Station Berlin in the late 1960s.
  • McCurry's War (novel) by Chuck Thompson (2012): Field Station Berlin atop Teufelsberg in the 1960s. A closer look at the escapades of the soldiers of Teufelsberg with a little bit of humor mixed in that only the Army could provide.
  • Reunification: A Monterey Mary Returns to Berlin by T.H.E. Hill (2013): A comparison of Berlin in the 1970s with Berlin in the 2010s, spiced up with the stories of escapades that only ASA-ers at the Field Station could have pulled off.
  • Voices Under Berlin: The Tale of a Monterey Mary (novel) by T.H.E. Hill (2008): An ASA Russian linguist in Berlin ostensibly in the mid-1950s, but closer in reality to the Field Station in the mid-1970s.

Outsiders[edit]

  • The Wall by John Marks (1999): an officer at the Field Station defects to the East just hours before the Wall falls; an outsider’s view of Field Station Berlin.

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  • William Durie, "The British Garrison Berlin 1945.1994 (No where to go)" Publisher: Vergangenheits, Berlin Mai 2012, ISBN 978-3-86408-068-5.
  • Field Station Berlin by David Derksen, Robert Haeseke-Diesing, Florian Leitner, & Katharina Beckmann (2013), ISBN 978-3943112177: in German
  • Der Berliner Teufelsberg by Andreas Jüttemann & Klaus Behling (2011), ISBN 978-3863680237: in German

External links[edit]