Memories of Teufelsberg, Berlin

Teufelsberg, Berlin, was the site of an NSA listening post during the Cold War. The facility, known as T-Berg or simply the Hill, was shared by the Americans and the Brits who both conducted a variety of intelligence gathering activities 60 miles behind the Iron Curtain. As I've noted here a number of times, I worked there for three years during the early 1980s as a Russian linguist in the U.S. Army. 

I have a picture of the site that was taken by Bob Haake, my stepfather, in February of 1985. He and my mother were in Berlin, and we drove out to the Grunewald one very cold afternoon for a look around. Although taking pictures of the facility was officially forbidden, as I recall, Bob decided he'd take a quick snapshot in spite of the prohibition. I'm glad he did. I treasure the picture, which is attached to the bottom of this blog entry. 

I searched the internet for other images of Teufelsberg yesterday. It's unfortunate, in my view, that most of the pictures out there are of the vandalized remains of the facility. The exterior shots of the site during its years of operation are vastly outnumbered by pictures of it in its current dilapidated state. And the only shots of the interior, quite understandably, are ones taken years after the site was closed, the machines were turned off, and the lights were turned out. I've never seen a picture of any part of the interior when the site was operational; for obvious reasons, that makes sense.  

While I'm certain that T-Berg's current state is of cultural interest, and that those who visit the site now consider the extensive graffiti and street art of some significance, I honestly find contemporary images of it to be depressing. Look, I know the place isn't Pearl Harbor or Gettysburg, but it was a vital operational site in the heart of the DDR for at least three decades during the Cold War. And the men and women who worked there played a key role in containing the Soviet and Warsaw Pact threat to the West. To allow the site to fall into such disrepair, to allow vandals to trash the place, and artists to use it as their personal canvas strikes me as careless at best and disrespectful at worst. 

TBerg 1985.jpg