Berlin is a city that still carries scars from a war that ended more than seventy years ago. You can see it on the walls of some old buildings and on all the air shelters that still exist today. Berlin Bunkers are everywhere and we’re going to talk about some of them below.
Bunkers are technically known as Air Raid Shelters and they were were built with the functionality of protecting people from enemy air raids. Some of them were pre-existing place like subway stations, tunnels or basements. In Germany, there was a certain type of air raid shelter that was typical of the country. It was called Hochbunker and it was considered to be completely bomb-proof.
These bunkers were usually made of large concrete blocks and were built upward. This was much cheaper and faster to built than the ones using a downward excavation. Some of the bunkers we visited here in Berlin follow this design but not all of them.
Boros Collection Bunker
I still remember the first time I came across the bunker where you can find the Boros Collection. Berlin was still something new for me and I decided to walk around Oranienburger Tor just to try to get a glimpse of what East Berlin used to look like. I was taking pictures of buildings when I looked in front of me and I saw this huge block of concrete with a lot of plants falling from the top of it. It was like a scene from a video game or a weird sci-fi movie. I just couldn’t believe that there was a house sitting on top of a bunker.
When I got home, I researched the place and found out about the Boros Collection. The bunker get its name from Christian Boros, who bought the place for his contemporary art collection back in 2003. The renovation work to make the place usable was finished in 2007. Today, you can visit the art collection through a registration at their official website.
Der Kegel Bunker in Friedrichshain
Some of the bunkers that we visited are somehow hidden on plain sight and this is exactly where the bunker known as Der Kegel is. This bunker can be found in the middle of RAW area in Friedrichshain, next to Cassiopeia and, since 2005, it is used as a climbing tower. I can’t say how many times I had a beer next to this building before I realized that those people were climbing an old Second World War bunker in the middle of one of the most alternative parts of Berlin.
Schonholzer Heide Bunkers
This is one of the few bunkers in Berlin that is easy to enter. This happens because the place is abandoned in the middle of a park and, even though it keeps getting walled in, people break it down and make it easy to enter it.
We have been there before, when we used to do free open tours of Berlin, and it is quite a weird sight. Inside there is nothing to be seen since it has been there for a long time and it is filled with garbage and trash. From the outside, it looks like a turtle shell coming out of the floor, covered in graffiti.
If you curious to see a bunker from the inside, this might be the place for you to visit.
The Gesundbrunnen Bunker and the Flak Tower
Connected to the U-Bahn tunnels in the north of Berlin is where you’re going to find the Gesundbrunnen Bunker. To visit this complex of hallways and rooms designed to protect the people from the area during the Second World War, you will need to get in touch with Berliner Unterwelten. They do amazing tours of the area where they explain everything about the place and it is really worth it. We were there a couple of months ago and it was a really great experience.
A visit to the Flak Tower can be arranged through Berliner Unterwelten as well. And, it’s hard to say this but, it was even more amazing the visiting the bunkers under Gesundbrunnen. If you are asking why, I have to explain that it happened because I feel like Flak Towers are somewhat specials. Specials because there were not so many being built during the Second World War and there are even less today. The one that still, partially, stands at the Humbolthain Park is the only one in Berlin and it is a must see place. Also, today, one of the outer walls of the tower is used as a climbing wall.
From the top of this former war structure, you will have an amazing view of Berlin and it is more than worth the climb all the way there as you can see on the pictures here.
Hochbunker Pallasstraße, the Bunker in Schöneberg
When I was researching more bunkers in Berlin, I came across the Hochbunker Pallasstraße in Schöneberg. Built between 1943 and 1945 by slave labour, the bunker was used as a telephone and telegraph center. After the war, there were some attempts to blow it up by the American Army but nothing worked really well since there are a lot of buildings around and they were reluctant to cause damage to them.
During the 1980’s, after some development and modernization, the building became a civil defense shelter and a warehouse for emergency goods. But this is not the cool part of this bunker.
For me, the coolest thing about this bunker is how it feels like it’s being hugged by the buildings around it. Since the the building known as Pallasseum was built on stilts around it, the bunker is surrounded by life and there are people living really close to it.
Also, the Hochbunker Pallasstraße was used as a location for the 1987 movie Wings of Desire by Wim Wenders.
Tempelhof Bunker aka the Bundesring Bunker
On the calm streets next to Tempelhof is where you’re going to find another bunker. I managed to find the place by accident on a bike ride a few months ago and I remember finding it weird that, in the middle of this calm neighborhood, between a playground for children and some cute houses, there is a bunker.
Again, we didn’t manage to visit the place but we believe that we should do it since it has a weird story. Today it is the home of Tempelhofer Sportschützen 95 e.V., a shooting club that received the bunker back in 1994 to be used as a training center. From outside, you cannot imagine what happens inside.
The Twin Bunkers of Wittenau
You have to go all the way to Wittenau to see what we are calling the Twin Bunkers of Witten Strasse. Both Hochbunkers were built in September 1940 with orders from Albert Speer and, by 1941, they were ready to protect the local population.
The weirdest thing about those two bunkers is that they are being used by a car repair shop and there are cars everywhere there. If I had a car, I know that I would drive all the way there just to have it fixed in a place that used to be a Second World War bunker. Weird, right?
Berlin Story Bunker, the Anhalter Bahnhof Bunker
Known as Berlin Story Bunker, this air-raid shelter was built during the Second World War close to one of the biggest train stations in Berlin. With more than six thousand square meters divided into five floors and more than 100 rooms, it should have protected 3.500 people at the time. But, in fact, the history tells that almost 14.000 people were looking for protection and refuge in the bunker during allied bombing.
Today, the bunkers serves and a history and horror museum. Supposedly, you can learn about 800 years of Berlin History in an hour and there is also a Berlin Chamber of Horror tour. We have never been there so we can’t say if it’s worth it or not.
Bonus: An Abandoned Bunker in Oranienburg
On a really warm summer day a couple of years ago, I decided to take my camera to Oranienburg just to see if I was right and that weird dot in the middle of a forest was really a bunker. I was there before when I found my way into the SS Bakery and I knew that there was more hidden in the woods around it. Too bad the bunker wasn’t in a good shape.
When I got there, all I could see was a concrete structure covered in plants and filled with cracks and holes. It looked like a bunker but it had seen better days. Still, bunker hunting in the forests around Berlin seems to be a hobby I would enjoy.
Der Kegel Bunker
Boros Collection Bunker
Berlin Story Bunker
Schonholzer Heide Bunkers
Wittenau Twin Bunkers
There are a lot of Berlin bunkers that are on my list of places to visit and I gonna keep updating this article with them as Fotostrasse visits them I digs the history behind them.
If you know any bunkers that we didn’t cover here, leave a tip on the comments below and we will do our part and visit it!