Tour #3, "Subways and Bunkers in the Cold War," begins in a building that also serves as the entrance to the Dokumentartheater (which performs underground).
The underground tour starts with an orientation in a bunker from the Cold War era.
A map shows the border that separated the German Federal Republic (BRD) from the German Democratic Republic (DDR) until the fall of the Berlin Wall on November 9, 1989.
A sign from the Cold War era warns underground workers or travelers in West Berlin that the border with East Berlin is only 80 meters away.
During the DDR Zeit, barriers and booby-traps kept East Berliners from escaping through the sewers. (In some cases, electrocution devices were used to foil escapees.)
Interesting side note for infrastructure fans: The separate electricity, power, and communications systems of East and West Berlin weren't fully integrated until 1998, nine years after the border was reopened and eight years after reunification.
In the early 1950s, U.S. and British intelligence services built an espionage tunnel that led from a basement in the American Sector to an underground cable hub in East Berlin.
CIA spies eavesdropped on about half a million calls over a period of 11 months and 11 days. (See Wikipedia's Operation Gold article for details.)
During the Cold War, the bunker used for Berliner Unterwelten tour #3 was a civil-defense shelter. The suits above were intended to protect against fallout from nuclear bombs.
Beyond the fallout shelter, a tunnel leads to Berlin's oldest and deepest U-Bahn station. (See photo on page 1 of this article). Through the emergency exit or Notausgang, you can catch a glimpse of subway trains parked in an underground rail yard.
A door leads from the Berliner Unterwelten tunnel to the U-Bahn platforms.
Existing U-Bahn and S-Bahn routes ran through East Berlin during the Cold War, but trains from the West weren't allowed to stop, and the tunnels were patrolled by East German security forces. Tracks also had booby-traps between the rails at various points, so that escapees would trip in the dark and impale themselves on vertical spikes. According to a Berliner Unterwelten guide, the handful of people who succeeded in escaping from the East to the West through U-Bahn or S-Bahn tunnels were transit employees who knew where traps were located.
The Berlin Wall and its "death strip" once stood in this grassy area above the tunnels and bunkers of underground Berlin. Today, the neighborhood is being redeveloped, with many new apartment buildings along the border of the former French and Soviet Sectors.
Back to: Underground Berlin - Introduction
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