I decided to spend my last vacation days at the end of August going to places I always thought about going but never manage to go. The most interesting of all those places were visiting Krampnitz.
Since I moved to Berlin, my desire to go off exploring strange and abandoned places grew and that place would be better to explore than an old Soviet barracks? Inspired by some posts I’ve seen around, I had to quit planning and just go. I ended up spending two days there, I took hundreds of photos and got to see everything we expected to see there. I gonna tell it all to you but, first, let me tell you some things about the place.
The History of Krampnitz
Krampnitz was built between 1937 and 1939 as a military training center for cavalry and motorized troops of the german army. The name of this place changed a few times during the Second World War and, in April 1945, the Soviets ended up taking over the place and only left the place in 1994 when they left Germany.
When you walk around Krampnitz you can see some buildings that were built at that stage but, as they do not have anything special, I don’t think you should waste your time exploring them. After the Russians left Krampnitz, the site was abandoned. Left to rot and all those things. The Brandenburg government thought about making a tourist center at the site with a focus on football, but nothing happened.
And I know that a group of Danish investment bank purchased much of the site but nothing was done there. It may be that in a few years, all you will see this post from becoming a big amusement park, a resort or a few apartments and high-end luxury home. But when i went there, there was nothing like that.
Now, imagine that we have a decaying old military base right next to one of the largest European cities. What would you do with this site? It seems that the production of apocalyptic films and Second World War movies were a viable solution. That is why films like Enemy At The Gates and Inglorious Basterds were filmed on site.
Krampnitz is easy to reach and a bus that leaves from the train station in Potsdam left me and my wife right outside of the place. The gates were padlocked, as we expected but it was easy to find a hole in the wall.
As imagined Krampnitz should not be one of the safest places in the world, as I read some online posts warning about the presence of neo-Nazis, junkies and a van security patrolling the site from time to time, and that made me go there is a state of excessive alert. Over time, just relaxing and enjoying the exploration.
Our visit to Krampnitz
On the first day, our tour was not the best. The casino, one of the most photographed and famous buildings Krampnitz, was really well sealed with pieces of wood on almost all doors and windows. We ended up exploring other buildings and going into a lot of barracks.
Something I do not advise anyone since the place is huge, full of mosquitoes and other insects. Apart from that most of the buildings were used as military residences so they are all very similar and offer the same mix of decomposed floors, walls peeling, moldy old newspapers used as liner and broken glass and other objects on the floor.
On the first day, we discover where is the theater/cinema, we found garages of tanks, saw the training facilities, the gym with her sports court decaying and was wondering what to do the next day.
If you’ve seen any post about Krampnitz, know that there exists a mosaic with a Nazi eagle. According to local legend, it was preserved by the Russians and still is there. Our goal has always been to find this mosaic but, after walking on the very first day, we decided to go home and think about where this mosaic could be and how we would find him.
Our second day was much better. I took with me some tools to help removing pieces of wood that kept out the casino and other buildings, and thus everything was much more easy. Entering the casino is easy when you can remove screws and nails and jump out the window.
But the building is large and has a few floors and several sealed doors that lead to nowhere. I believed that the mosaic would be in this building but ended up finding nothing there. At least I can say I visited one of the places where they filmed Inglorious Basterds .
Marcela decided to bring a friend and take some most interesting photos on location and while she did that, I could explore some buildings a bit better. The old theater/cinema, was one of the best explored but as I did not take any good flashlight, just failing to get underground and see what was there . And it was there I got to see some Soviet murals, found a book on Stalinist Russia lost amidst some rubble and it amused me thinking that I was a modern and mediocre sort of an Indiana Jones.
After a few hours of exploration we started getting tired. We were almost giving up and giving up the mosaic when I insisted on exploring one of the first buildings we saw, one that proved to be one of the biggest we enter Krampnitz.
I used my tools to open the door that was sealed with large pieces of wood, and it was there that we found one of the most well maintained buildings. Well maintained is not the right term to use here, but this building seems to be one of the least spoiled. And it was there that we found that Nazi mosaic we were looking for.
But it seems that we arrived too late and that swastika, the legends say, that survived the Soviet years, was covered with plaster for a person who cares about other ancient symbols and decided to vandalize the place. I really don’t like to see things that survived for so long being destroyed like that but I can not do much. We arrived too late and missed a view that seems to have been quite glorious.
I’m not sure if this mosaic is unique since so many war movies were filmed at the site and it could easily have been done for these films. But when you see it up close and looking at all the details, you can see that whoever did this knew what he was doing.
In a way, it is possible to believe that this Nazi mosaic survived World War II and the Soviet power after that. I believe that the Soviets kept it intact as a souvenir of war, and this makes sense in my head.
So, enjoy the photos here and links in the text. Visit the site before it becomes a distant memory and not destroy what you see there.
Read this before going Krampnitz
If you want to visit the site, you can read below some of the things that I learned in those two days of exploration:
- Remember that the area is private property and you may have problems with this case is viewed by security guards patrolling the site.
- Don’t go there wearing shorts. A sturdy and comfortable shoes would be great since the place is quite large and full of debris .
- Bring a powerful flashlight if you think in exploring the basement on some building.
- Water and anything you want to eat can be usefu to bring since the place is pretty big and you will be there for quite a hile.
- Be careful where you walk and watch where you step since i have seen several leftovers needles from junkies.
- I saw some neo-Nazi graffiti at the site , and perhaps you can see some of them there when you visit Krampnitz. Pay attention.
- Watch out where you step. Some places are not well kept and wood seems to be falling apart.
- Do not be one of the idiots who visit the site and break everything and steal the few things that still exist there. Don’t be that idiot.
There are lots of pictures here: Krampnitz – a set on Flickr
And thanks for the sources of information that helped me go through the place: Kaserne Krampnitz | Digital Cosmonaut + Abandoned Berlin: Krampnitz, abandoned Nazi / Russian military complex