Waldsiedlung

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A former entrance gate into Waldsiedlung.

Waldsiedlung (English: Forest settlement) was the secure housing zone built for the leaders of former East Germany. It was located near Wandlitz (Barnim) about 30 kilometres (19 mi) north of East Berlin. The most senior party members of the SED lived here in relative luxury from 1960 to 1989.

Waldsiedlung and surrounding areas remained off-limits to all ordinary Germans until German reunification.

Background[edit]

After the events of the Hungarian Revolution of 1956, the SED party leadership in East Germany decided to build themselves a secure residential zone more remote than their mansions on the Majakowskiring in Berlin's Pankow district. Construction of Waldsiedlung began two years later after a SED resolution in an area belonging to the city of Bernau. It was built between 1958 and 1960 through an agency subordinate to the Stasi; this department was tasked with protecting individuals and worked closely with the Ministry for Public Security.

Layout[edit]

Waldsiedlung covered about 2km² although the area's perimeter was not immediately recognizable from the outside. The 5 kilometres (3.1 mi) outer ring consisted of a wire-mesh fence, on which there were signs indicating a 'wildlife research area'. The inner ring was surrounded by a two-metre high, green security wall and could only be entered with special passes.

The four gates were guarded by MfS troops from the Felix Dzerzhinsky Guards Regiment. Troops were stationed at 31 watch posts within the 5-km outer fence.

In the 1970s a four-lane autobahn connected the site directly to Berlin.

Living conditions[edit]

Within the inner ring, Waldsiedlung consisted of 23 detached family houses with 180m² of land each. The site had a club house with a cinema and a restaurant, a shop where a limited selection of luxury Western goods could be purchased with local currency, a market garden, a health centre, a shooting range, a swimming pool, a sports field and tennis courts. There were also barracks and social building for site employees and guards.

In the Honecker era the cooks were required to produce gourmet-level meals. In addition to high-quality East German food products luxury western products, such as Beaujolais wines and seltzer water, were imported from West Berlin.

Waldsiedlung was colloquially called Wandlitz among East Germans. In the 1980s it became known as Volvograd after the country's political elite began to use Swedish cars rather than the traditional Soviet luxury Chaikas.

In late 1989 the inhabitants had to leave the settlement in accordance with a resolution adopted by the GDR government under premier Hans Modrow.

Present day[edit]

A rehabilitation clinic has occupied the area since the early 1990s.


Coordinates: 52°44′03″N 13°29′11″E / 52.73417°N 13.48639°E / 52.73417; 13.48639