Kaserne Krampnitz

Finally! Summer has arrived in Berlin. Or something akin to it.

Now that the rain and arctic winds have moved on to plague some other poor country, Berlin and its surroundings are begging to be explored.  I’ve always been a fan of urban exploring – and ever since I moved to Berlin I’ve been on the prowl to explore new and exciting places. Unlike other cities, Berlin still has a wealth of derelict buildings and spaces to explore. The division of Berlin and the Rest of the country had left giant pockets of no man’s land. Huge areas were inaccessible due to military restricted zones. Factories, farms, and apartment buildings were abandoned or forcibly evicted. After the Allied and Russian occupation of Germany ended and the last troops officially left in 1994, the majority of the Military (and civilian) buildings were left to rot. Aside from a few buildings which were handed over for a civilian use like the American Military hospitals and schools, the German military and government had no use (nor the budget) for the rest.  After the reunification, these areas became accessible again – and one of them was The Kaserne Krampnitz.

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Peeling Blue Paint on an unhinged Door at the Krampnitz Kaserne in Potsdam, Germany

Peeling Blue Paint on an unhinged Door

All Photos from the outing to the Krampnitz Kaserne can be found in this Flickr Album – Kaserne Krampnitz

The Kaserne Krampnitz was built by the Germany Military between 1937 and 1939 as a Heeres-, Reit- und Fahrschule – a training school for cavalry and motorized troops. The German Military headquarters had decided that the original Cavalry School which had previously been located in in Hannover – since 1872 – was too small and a new, larger one should be built in Krampnitz. After it was completed in 1939, it served as a Cavalry and motorized infantry school, and later on as a training school for Panzertruppen (Tank Crews). The Military Base was renamed in 1941 into „Schule für schnelle Truppen“ (School for mobile troops), and then renamed again in 1943 into  „Panzertruppenschule II Krampnitz“.

In the last futile months of the war, Kaserne Krampnitz was used as a base for the motorized troops fighting around berlin. On the 26th of April 1945, the base was completely evacuated. A day later the Red Army moved in an occupied the base. From that day on, the Russians occupied the base until they left Germany in 1994.  During that time the Soviets expanded the base and built several apartment blocks and other administrative buildings to house their troops.

After the Russians left – the base was remained empty. The German state was unsure what to do with the land, as they had no real use for it (or the Kaserne Krampnitz)  as it just possed a possible money pit. During that time the base was used for several WWII and apocalyptical themed movies such as “Enemy at the Gates” (2000), Resident Evil (2002),  „Mein Führer“ (2006) and “Inglorious Basterds” (2009). During that time The State of Brandenburg planned on building a Soccer themed amusement park on the land, with a soccer hotel, soccer restaurant, wellness area, training facilities and some luxury accommodations. I guess they realized this was a crap idea and the plan was scrapped. A year later large parts of the Kaserne Krampnitz were sold off to a Danish Investment Group. As of yet, no plans have surfaced as to what the area is going to be used for. The Danes probably realized that living in Brandenburg is like visiting a Siberian town on a Sunday. There’s fuck all going on there.  It’s all a matter of time until the area is turned into some abomination of luxury flats or a hotel though.

 

Kugoloff Wodka Label stuck on a wall

A Kugoloff Wodka Label stuck on a wall – Drink it before your Beer and after Dinner. Sound Advice.

All Photos from the outing to the Krampnitz Kaserne can be found in this Flickr Album – Kaserne Krampnitz

After having read about Kaserne Krampnitz a few years back, I stumbled upon an Article about the Kaserne written by Irish Berliner – and decided I should seize the moment and explore this Military Base before vandals completely ruin it or before it’s torn down. It is always advisable to bring along a partner as you never know what might happen. I had heard rumors that Neo Nazis like to congregate here (not sure about that, but id believe it), as well as junkies (confirmed – check out this picture) and homeless people (confirmed). Another potential hazard was the fact that several buildings are at the verge of collapsing- the floors are rotten through. The thought of having to fight of crack heads by myself and crashing through the ceiling weren’t very appealing – so I asked AndBerlin if he fancied joining me. As luck would have it, he’s an avid explorer himself and was willing to accompany me – so we met up at Alexanderplatz on a Saturday afternoon and headed off to the outskirts of Potsdam. His post about our trip can be found here.

Getting into the Krampnitz Kaserne is fairly easy. The original gates are locked up, but getting over the wall isn’t too difficult, and it’s even easier when you spot the massive hole in the wall.

As soon as we entered I felt like a kid in a candy store. Where to go first? What to see? What to do? It was a nervous excitement – slightly weary of crack head Nazis jumping out of the dark, or seeing the ominous white security van pull up (the area is patrolled by some form of security, at what intervals/frequency is unknown to me though) Our first instinct was to wander off to the first building we saw and make our way from there. At this point we hadn’t realized yet how large the Base was (have a look at this map to understand the size of this base), and that a majority of the buildings just consisted of trashed housing units. Every building had the same lonely bathtubs, the same tatty cheap (newspaper) wallpaper peeling off the walls, and the same soaked up wooden floor tiles – bursting out of their constraints. After the 5th or 6th building our interest weighed slightly, so from that point on we decided to just quickly browse through the majority of the buildings. It’s fairly easy to gage which buildings house some long forgotten treasures – if the doors are locked and boarded up, then there’s something worth seeing in inside.

A good 5 hours passed since we had first arrived and we had seen almost everything there was to see. We found the Basketball court, the Gym, the remnants of a Cinema (the floor is rotten and deadly dangerous. You will most likely crash through if you try and walk on it), the mess hall, the garage, the Casino (not the gambling kind, but the officers mess hall) – but what was missing, what we had yet to discover was the Mosaic.

Russian Graffiti in an abandoned Military Building - In Red: Plunder the conquerors/occupiers. In Black: Borya (Boris) Left

Russian Graffiti in an abandoned Military Building – In Red: Plunder the conquerors/occupiers. In Black: Borya (Boris) Left

 

The rotting soviet Basketball Court at the Krampnitz Kaserne

The rotting Basketball Court – walking across the floor is very dangerous and not advised

 

A Left behind stove in one of the housing units at the Krampnitz Kaserne in Potsdam, Germany

A Left Behind stove in one of the housing units

 

The Great Hall of the Officers Casino at Kaserne Krampnitz - as seen in the movie Inglorious Basterds

The Great Hall of the Officers Casino at Kaserne Krampnitz – as seen in the movie Inglorious Basterds

 

Post Soviet vandalism to one of the Eagle reliefs at the Officers Casino at the Kaserne Krampnitz

Post Soviet vandalism to one of the Eagle reliefs

 

Simply Stunning Mosaic for a Chandelier in the Officers Casino at the Kaserne Krampnitz in Potsdam, Germany

Simply Stunning Mosaic for a Chandelier in the Officers Casino

 

Moss growing in one of the rooms at the Kaserne Krampnitz in Potsdam, Germany

One of the many rooms where nature is slowly reclaiming its space

 

The former Gym of the Kaserne Krampnitz in Potsdam, Germany

The former Gym of the Kaserne Krampnitz – In Russian*: Hold High The Army Sports Banner* – My Russian is very rusty so I wouldnt mind an accurate Translation

 

One of many Bathtubs spread around the Krampnitz Military Base

One of many Bathtubs spread around the Base

 

A Broken Plate in the mess hall of the Kaserne Krampnitz in Potsdam, Germany

A Broken Plate in the Mess Hall

 

A Jacket drapped over a collection trolley at the Kaserne Krampnitz

A Jacket drapped over a collection trolley

 

Receiver Connection of an abandonen machine at the Kaserne Krampnitz

In Russian: Receiver Connection

The Mosaic – which is so often referenced in all the other posts about Kaserne Krampnitz - is an extremely detailed mosaic of a German eagle with 5 swastikas. There is much debate about its authenticity on the internet, and I had assumed it was fake even before I had seen it in up-close myself.

The arguments against it are as follows:

Why would the Russians keep it? Surely they would have just ripped that thing right out. It’s in too good condition. Many war films were filmed here, it’s probably just an excellent prop/fake.

Our feet – or at least mine – were killing me after walking around for hours. The constant slamming of windows and doors (because of the wind) had kept my adrenaline and paranoia levels on an eternal high was now making me tired, which was in turn giving me a massive headache. We were about to leave when we decided to make one last ditch attempt to find the mosaic. At this point we sort of knew where it was – the only building we hadn’t been in the whole day was ironically one of the first that we saw that day. We had decided not to go in it as it was boarded shut. We climbed in through one of the windows and made our way through the rooms. This building was preserved the best, virtually untouched by vandals – a few graffiti artists (and junkies) had made their way in, but there was no visible damage. Large maps were peeling off the walls as we got closer – and then we finally saw it – I was impressed. There is an unhealthy school boyish buzz when one sees these things. The feeling of finding something, of seeing something which is/was so universally condemned – so taboo. It’s an interesting rush.

 

view of the swastika moasic from the stairs at the Kaserne Krampnitz in Potsdam, Germany

Coming up from the stairs, this is the first thing you see

 

A Close up of the Entire Swastika and Eagle Mosaic at the Kaserne Krampnitz in Potsdam, Germany

A Close up of the Entire Swastika and Eagle Mosaic – Looks pretty real to me

 

Close up of the Eagle in the famous Swastika Mosaic of the Kaserne Krampnitz in Potsdam, Germany

Close up of the Eagle

After having seen it in real life – I tend to think it’s the real deal. Why would the Russians keep it? Well someone apparently tried to block out the 4 swastikas in the corners – you can clearly see it in the pictures, probably in an attempt to make it somewhat more presentable. There are many other Nazi remnants on the other buildings, most notably the eagles in the officers Casino (the damage to them is post-soviet vandalism). On one of the larger buildings close to the “Parade Grounds” you can clearly see Nazi Murals depicting Eagles holding the Coat of Arms of long lost German territories and nonexistent states. Why did they bother keeping that stuff there? My opinion is that they were too lazy to get rid of it and decided to keep it as a symbol of their victory.

Certain parts of the building feel like they’ve only been abandoned weeks ago – business cards are still pinned to the walls, and office papers are lying on the floor. Aside from this there are also clear signs that some remodeling work has recently been carried out. I wonder how long the Mosaic will survive in its current state.

 

Another lonely Bathtub at the Krampnitz Kaserne in Potsdam, Germany

Another lonely Bathtub

 

A Grate resting against a peeling wall at the Kaserne Krampnitz in Potsdam, Germany

Peeling Paint everywhere

Dashboard of the famous Volkswagen Camper Van at the Kaserne Krampnitz

Dashboard of the famous “Volkswagen” Camper Van – Its a Mercedes BTW

After having spent several hours there, here are a few tips and suggestions for those who are thinking of venturing out to the Kaserne Krampnitz:

It is Illegal to Enter The Property.

Bring enough Water and something to eat. You will get thirsty, and you will be hungry

Bring a torch. Most of the areas are pitch black and you don’t see squat.

Watch out for (un)natural inhabitants. There are def. junkies hanging out there.

Don’t go alone – having someone go with you is more fun, and it’s safer – see previous and next point.

Watch out for the floors. Due to the water many of the floors/ceilings have rotted away. You will probably crash through one of them if you don’t watch out.

Mosquitos (and ticks) are everywhere. I thought I had learnt my lesson last time visiting the Teufelsberg.

DONT be a massive ASSHOLE and break shit and steal stuff. There are enough people out there who do that and ruin the fun for everyone. It’s exactly for this reason that I don’t give any descriptions how to get there or find anything that you see in these pictures. Look but don’t touch.

*On a side note – the White Rhino head which is mentioned in some of the other posts is almost completely destroyed. Unless you know what you are looking for you won’t recognize it.

Well the fun can’t last forever. Like Krampnitz, almost all of these historical remnants have been snapped up by investment groups (I’m looking at you Israelis, Danes, and Irish) and are being turned into luxury flats and hotels. Probably the last thing that anybody needs. Kaserne Krampnitz will suffer the same fate. It is inevitable. The only consolidation is the fact that the small lake behind the military base was on the receiving end of 50 years of raw untreated Russian sewage. Happy fishing is all I can say.

 

All Photos from the outing to the Krampnitz Kaserne can be found in this Flickr Album – Kaserne Krampnitz

15 Comments

  1. Great post mate! You’ve put my photos to shame as expected. I’m off to Flickr now to torture myself even more!

    • cheers mate! well I had some 400 shots when I came home, the blessing/curse of using Digital. Ive still got the daunting task of labeling all those flickr images….

  2. great post, very informative, superb pictures! thanks for sharing.

    • Thanks! Have you been to Krampnitz before? I had a look at your blog and saw that you’ve been to the clinic in neukölln – I’ve been meaning to go there as well. It looks like its fairly easy to get in but it also seems like there’s loads of vandalism going on there as well.

      • no, haven’t been there yet, but your post and andBerlin’s post are very inspiring ;)
        the clinic in neukölln is indeed easy to get in. and you are right that there is a lot of vandalism. i simply do not understand why this always seems to be inevitable… the clinic is definitively worth a visit, though. take care!

  3. what a post! these pictures really touch my heart. i shot into a lot of ragged industrie areas since the beginning of my photographic career – but this one surely is the best i ever saw- mate- i’m speechless….
    i just googled the adress- what a pitty – been to potsdam last week – next time i’m in berlin i take a tripod and 3 hours to go there!

    • thank you so much for your kind words! There are still some places like this left in Berlin which are a bit more accessible as well. If you happen to be in Berlin feel free to drop me an email (ich spreche auch Deutsch) ;)

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  7. Anne says:

    Awesome post!

    I’ve been to Krampnitz twice,along with a friend, and I regret I was way too creeped out to take more pictures, lmao. I regret, also, I couldn’t find the eagle building in any of these two times, although I’m almost sure of which of the buildings it was. I wanted to ask, would you mind if I sent you an email, asking if my guess is corrent? Lol you can answer me just “yes” or “no”, on the email, but, I really wanted to see it, since I’m planning a third visit to Krampnitz and I wanted to see the mosaic so bad.

    Also, I hope they don’t demolish eveyrhting so soon. It’ll be really sad and a great loss, in my opinion.

    Anywya, thanks for such a great post!

    • Hi Anne,

      Thanks! Im glad you liked the post. The complex is quite large, larger than I expected to be honest. It helps if you have some osrt of GPS/Google Map to trace your tracks because im quite sure there are a few more secrets there to be found. Not sure if you noticed the last time you were there, but there were definetley some junkies living there. Id assume that the security (private white van security) is patrolling the area again, so do be carefull.

      Sure you can send me an email ;) im quite sure that you should know by now where it is

  8. Nice post man! You’re right about those investment groups. But the Germans are getting in on the act too now… Fuckbags.

    • Thanks Dude! glad you liked the post! On the one hand I can understand that in most cases its hard to find a reason/sound plan to preserve these places but there can be a compromise between development and preservation, such as the Fichte Bunker and the Boros Collection.

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