Third part of the fire brigade rescue drill in the “axis” tunnels beneath the Tiergarten park
Of all days, on the coldest day of Winter 2009 so far, we participated in a rescue exercise together with the Berlin Fire Brigade (HRD). This time, the exercise involved the rescue of a casualty from the Axis road tunnel running under the Berlin Tiergarten Park. This was a particular challenge, not only as the tunnel lies 14m deep underground, but also as the access shaft through which a casualty would need to be removed in the case of an actual rescue is narrow, just 60cm x 60cm. With help of winch, pulley and stretcher the victim was successfully raised to the surface.
20th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall
Following a church service in the Chapel of the Berlin Wall Memorial centre on the Bernauer Straße and a gathering along the line of the Wall to commemorate the 20th anniversary of its fall, at the invitation of the Berlin Underworlds' association Wall escapees Hasso Herschel and Burkhart Veigel together with around 25 escape helpers and 150 former Wall refugees met in the civilian air raid shelter at Blochplatz. After an opening speech by former Berlin Senator Ingrid Stahmer, there followed an exciting evening program of music and fascinating discussions of the experiences of these eyewitnesses of the years of the Wall.
Unveiling of commemorative plaques marking escape tunnels
To coincide with the Wall commemorations of 9th November 2009 we unveiled 2 new commemorative plaques marking escape tunnels. In the presence of Ehrhart Körting, senator and district major of Mitte, together with Christian Hanke, tunnel builders Uli Pfeifer, Joachim Rudolph, Joachim Neumann and Hasso Herschel, an information board was erected to commemorate the last great, but unsuccessful tunnel escape in 1971. A bronze plaque, furnished by the Berlin Underworld Association was also unveiled at Schönholzer Straße 7 to remember the successful ‘Tunnel 29’ dug in 1962.
Edgar Allen Poe and Louis Braille Soirée
In conjunction with the Berlin Underworlds Association and the Berlin Association of the Blind and visually impaired (ABSV), a macabre meeting was held on 26th September. In the sinister atmosphere of a sparsely lit “ghost station” association members Roswitha Röding and Christine Langer Braille read Edgar Allen Poe stories, the father of modern horror and crime writing, who’s birthday, as well as that of Louis Braille fell on this day. Blind guitarist Markus Virck played, the event was visited by around 60 guests.
Association members visit the bunker and the now blocked pedestrian underpass under the NE corner of Alexanderplatz.
First regular public tour F
After more than a year and a half’s building, renovation and reconstruction by the 25 person strong “Task force Fichtebunker” the first visitors on new Tour F “Gasometer Fichtebunker” get a view of the results of over 1600 work hours.
“Day of Open Monuments” (National Heritage Day)
During the “Day of Open Monuments” (National Heritage Day), the Association led over 340 visitors over Saturday and Sunday through bunkers complexes generally sealed off. First, there was a tour through the Berliner Kindl brewery in Neukolln, as well as then one into the long closed Gasometer Fichtebunker.
“Deep Sound” festival
Lead and conceived by Thomas Gerwin the international sounds festival “deep sound” takes place in various underground spaces. In Oranienplatz subway station, a construction that never has seen service under Alfred-Döblin-Platz, various musical and experimental tonal performances take place. The so called north rooms under Gesundbrunnen station see the staging of an organic exhibition of acoustic landscapes. Scientific perspectives accompany the performances and exhibitions and a discussion symposium takes place with both artists and special guests. The sound festival is visited by more than 600 visitors.
25th “Long Night of the Museums”
The Berlin Underworlds' Association participated in the “Long night of the museums’ with its Germania exhibition. Besides the main exhibition a film and lecture program was presented, offered in several languages for the first time. The new temporary exhibition “archaeological excavations around the New Reich Chancellery and the Hitler Bunker” premiered here and is now integrated into the main exhibition.
The “documentary theatre berlin” on tour in Monaco
The “documentary theatre berlin” performed at the 14th Theatre Mondial in Monaco. Two performances of the piece “Dancer behind barbed wire” are very well received. The directors are congratulated by Prince Albert of Monaco personally.
From the left to the right: Katharina Goebel (documentary theatre, organization), Prince Albert II. of Monaco, Marina Schubarth (documentary theatre, direction), Patrice Cellarino (President of the 14th Theatre Mondial in Monaco)
Unveiling of a memorial and information board “Escape Tunnel beneath the Berlin Wall”
In the presence of Vice-president of the German Bundestag, Wolfgang Thierse, Eva Högl (MoP), Maria Nooke (“Memorial site of the Berlin Wall”) and Dieter Hötger, Berlin Underworlds' Association unveils a memorial and information board on the site of the failed Berlin Wall escape tunnel under the Sebastian Street between the city districts of Mitte and Kreuzberg. It was here, exactly on this location on June 28, 1962 when Siegfried Noffke was murdered, and Dieter Hötger badly wounded by a squad of the East German State Security (Stasi) to whom the tunnel had been betrayed. It is the third information board which has been initiated by the Association. This event is concluded by song writer Caro Kunde performing her escape tunnel song “Free”. The German ZDF TV program covers the unveiling with a 3 minute report.
A visit to hidden shelters beneath Humboldthain Park
A visit to both “mother and child bunkers” under Humboldthain Park for association members. Afterwards, the traditional annual barbeque on the anti aircraft tower Humboldthain is enjoyed by over 100 members’ friends and relations.
An escape tunnel model at the Blochplatz shelter
Set designers erect a mock up of the “Koeppen escape tunnel” dug in 1964 in the civilian air raid shelter Blochplatz. The 1:1 model will be included in the itinerary of Tour M. The association expresses its gratitude to Nord Film for the tunnel mock up.
Annual meeting of members 2009
The association members vote the following members to the new board of directors during a general meeting. Dietmar Arnold (chairman) Christian Kruse (1nd deputy) und Dominic Poncé (2nd deputy). Stefan Gier and Sascha Keil are relieved of office after 6 years service.
Pictured:Christian Kruse, Sascha Keil, Dietmar Arnold, Stefan Gier, Dominic Poncé.
A bat accommodation
A small underground bunker complex has been reorganized to suit as a bat hibernation venue. So far 2 rubble blocked emergency exits have been cleared, in the interior many specialized blocks, so called “bat wall niches”, have been arranged, and 2 new entrance holes are created. The work is a co-operation with the Office for Environment and Nature, the Action team of the Common Land biology and has been conducted with the support of the Office of District Mitte for Streets and Open spaces.
The “Long Night of Sciences” in 2009
The tour visiting the AEG test tunnel attracts much visitor interest during the “Long night of Sciences” in 2009. Six tours hold by guides of the Berliner Underworlds' Association explain to the visitors the history of continental Europe’s first electrically operated Underground railway tunnel. Additionally, an information desk supplies them with information about the other Association's tours and events
Removal of the association's archives
The association’s archives move from the 4th floor below ground at U8 Subway Station Gesundbrunnen to new larger rooms on the Heidebrinker Straße. From here, the archives contents can not just be borrowed by association members but also studied closely and comfortably in the Reading Room of these new facilities.
The “historic landmark” plaque
The Berlin Historic Landmark Commission (Landesdenkmalamt) declares that the Operation bunker under the Teichstraße will be entered on the list of protected sites. This unique space is now protected for the long term.
Second part of the fire brigade rescue drill
The second half of the rescue drill with Berlin Fire brigade. Once again members of the Fire brigade Berlin Marzahn district train for the real thing and carry a victim from the ground floor of collapsed Humboldthain anti aircraft tower, freeing them from the rubble. Three rescue drills are practiced in a former lift well, a difference of 25 metres from the ground to the 4th floor, even one in darkness, simulating a rescue during a power failure. The leader of the drill, Thomas Koerber declares himself very satisfied with the success of the training exercise for his team, and thanks the Berlin Underworlds' Association for the opportunity. We look forward to more exercises in the future!
A dragon boat getaway
Blue skies, 25 degrees, light winds – perfect conditions to go out on the water. A dozen Association members make their way to Karolinenhof on the Dahme River and on the Langen See (Long Lake), SW of Gruenau to join the “Karoliner Dragons” Sport Club Berlin Gruenau e.V. on an outing with their dragon boat canoe. The route cross the Lange See to the Grosse Kampe Bay, on to the little village of Mueggelheim and back. Part of the way is choppy due to the wash from faster motor boats. The effort involved in covering the 11 km route is quickly forgotten through the good company and barbecuing that follows.
The “documentary theatre berlin” in Sarajevo
The “documentary theatre berlin” performs the play: 'Dancer behind barbed wire” in Sarajevo, Bosnia. The cast also visits the Gazi Husrev Beg Mosque.
Building collapse rescue exercise of the Berlin fire brigade
The Berlin fire brigade practices a rescue exercise in the ruins of the anti aircraft tower in Humboldthain Park. The object is to familiarize them selves with the environment to help in the real event. The drill centres on the rescue of an incapacitated person through a 25 meter deep shaft in one of the corner towers.
Temporary Exhibition “Habimah”
In conjunction with the Habimah Berlin Association and the board of the “Memorial for the murdered Jews of Europe” a temporary exhibition “German exploitation of their Jewish neighbors” will be opened by the historian Wolfgang Dressen in the Berliner Underworlds' Associations pavilion on Getrud Kolmar Straße. Open until June 30th 2009, it covers the “Arianisation” of Jewish owned property through state finance bodies. Also, together with this exhibition, will be a public screening of the film “Human betrayals” by director Michael Verhoeven in the Holocaust Memorial's information Centre.
The workgroup “Gasometer Bunker”
On March 28th 2009, the workgroup “Gasometer Fichtebunker” is recognized by the Associations’ board and organized into building and technical support sections. The aim of this group will be the renovation, documentation and display of the history of the Gasometer bunker on Fichtestraße No. 6 in Berlin Kreuzberg, as well as new research and the preparation of material to support the tours of the association.
Lighting system for OP bunker Teichstraße
After a long search the Association can call an original OP lamp its own. Now set next to the original operations tables installed last year, it represents another milestone on the way to an authentic reconstruction within the bunker.
A new drama on stage: “VERA.”
The “documentary theatre berlin” premiers their piece “VERA.” to a full house in the Naunynstraße Ballroom in Berlin Kreuzberg. Further performances to sell out audiences of around 100 people take place on April 6th and 7th. The 30 strong company’s piece covers the life and works of Vera Frielaender (she is now over 80 years old).
A special honour
In the Teahous of the English Garden in Berlin's Tiergarten Park, the ‘Service to the district of Berlin Mitte medal’ is bestowed on Dietmar Arnold by the current district mayor Christian Hanke and district council leader Ulrich Davids. The district annually recognizes citizens of Mitte who have served the borough exceptionally through this honour.
A new workgroup “Café Brademann”
The workgroup “Humboldthain” whose job it has been to make the anti aircraft tower accessible to visitors has been dissolved after more than 7 years service. Any future interior modification will be undertaken by the workgroup “Building/Technical Support/ exhibitions”.
A new workgroup ‚Café Brademann‘ has been established, announces the Board, in combination with workgroups concerned with Building and technical support. The main goal of this group is to modify the Gesundbrunnen spaces for private use by Association members.
Hibernation sites for bats in anti aircraft tower Humboldthain.
The annual inventory of bats in the anti aircraft tower conducted by biologist Carsten Kallsch has yielded pleasing results. 30 Greater Mouse Eared bats (Myotis myotis) and 2 of the type Daubentons Bat (Myotis daubentonii) were counted. One must now recognize an increase in the population, especially as most other bats that might winter like the smaller ones (Daubentons Bat ) are well hidden and hard to find, almost invisible in the cracks left by the demolition detonation.
Public lectures at the “Myths of Germania” Exhibition
As part of the main exhibition “Myths of Germania”, a lecture series takes place in the exhibition pavilion of Gertrud-Kolmar-Straße. The Lecturer Dietmar Arnold, First Chairman of Berlin Underworlds' Association, presents his interactive CD Rom ‘Underground Berlin – Potsdamer Platz from below’.
In 2008, a total of 152.082 guests has been welcomed on our tours. The Exhibition “Myths of Germania” has been seen by 40.576 visitors. To all those people who have worked on our projects, and of course to all our guests: thank you very much!