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1. Development of the Wünsdorf location

Wünsdorf is about 30 km south of Berlin. The history of the military base Zossen-Wünsdorf begins around 1910 es  Numerous barracks were built there: in 1912 the telephone and telegraph office and in 1913 the infantry school. Forced by the First World War - Wünsdorf was the seat of the headquarters of the Reichswehr - the Imperial Gymnastics Institute was established, which became the Army Sports School from 1919 to 1943 (known as the "House of Officers"). More barracks, a military hospital and horse stables followed.

From 1933 Wünsdorf developed into a center in the development of fast troops. The first motorized unit of the Reichswehr had been relocated to Wünsdorf as early as 1931, but the military facilities were now being greatly expanded. In 1933 the first tank unit of the future German Wehrmacht was set up on the training area, in 1935 the 3rd tank division was re-established in Wünsdorf and the army driving school was relocated to the town. In March 1935, the Wehrmacht High Command (OKW) moved into its headquarters. The existing military sports facilities were used in 1936, in the run-up to the Olympic Games, for the training of the German team. At the same time, the military bathing establishment was built.  

At the end of the 1930s, the bunkers "Maybach I and II" and the news center ("Zeppelin") for the Army High Command, which moved its headquarters to Zossen in August 1939, were built. As an air protection measure, the construction of above-ground pointed bunkers began at this time.
After the victory over National Socialism, Soviet troops took over the military facilities. 1953 Wünsdorf became the seat of the military high command of the "Group of Soviet Armed Forces in Germany" (GSSD). In addition to the approximately 2,700 inhabitants, 50,000 to 75,000 Soviet men, women and children lived there at peak times. The area was a restricted area for citizens of the GDR. Until 1994 there were numerous Soviet institutions such as kindergartens, schools and shops within the fenced and walled area. After the collapse of the GDR and the unification of Germany, the high command from Wünsdorf organized the relocation of a total of around 380,000 soldiers and 170,000 civilians, as well as their war material, to the Soviet Union.

The book and bunker town of Wünsdorf developed from the ghost town in the late 1990s. In several second-hand bookshops, those hungry for reading can choose from hundreds of thousands of books. Guided tours explain the functions of the bunker systems to those interested. Several exhibitions approach the history of the military site, including one on the everyday life of the Soviet soldiers with exhibits left by the garrison.

Wünsdorf was my first bunker tour in 2004 and aroused my passion for exploring abandoned places. We chose the four hour long tour. The advantage was that we could see Maybach 1 and 2 as well as Zeppelin on one tour. At the end of 2019 I was officially again in the Zeppelin bunker, which was now accessible on all floors and was partially equipped with historical objects. That was very worth seeing. Here you can book your desired tour in Wünsdorf in advance.



The Maybach 1 facility comprised 12 bunkers and housed the army high command. The tank units controlled from here drove with Maybach engines, hence the name. After the war, the Red Army blew up the bunkers in accordance with the Allied agreements. But the German reinforced concrete remained stubborn. Some of the above-ground bunkers only sagged and could not be completely destroyed. At some point the Russians gave up. The bunkers were built like farmhouses to camouflage themselves. In addition, the bombs should ricochet off the pointed roofs and fall.

2.1 Maybach 1

Mit dem Bau der Bunkeranlage wurde 1937 begonnen und 1940 wurde das letzte Gebäude fertiggestellt. Maybach I war eine aus 12 Wohnhäusern mit künstlichen Dächern, Fenstern und Türen als Landhaussiedlung getarnte Bunkeranlage. Die Bunker waren durch einen Ringstollen miteinander verbunden. Durch den sogenannten Südstollen im Norden der Anlage bestand eine Verbindung mit dem Fernmeldebunker Zeppelin. Die Anlage war Teil der Kommandozentrale Zossen und wurde vom Großteil des Oberkommandos des Heeres (OKH) während des Zweiten Weltkriegs als Hauptquartier benutzt. Die von hier kontrollierten Panzerverbände fuhren mit Maybach-Motoren, darum die Bezeichnung. Nach dem Krieg sprengte die Rote Armee, entsprechend den alliierten Vereinbarungen, die Bunker. Doch der deutsche Stahlbeton blieb hartnäckig. Die oberirdischen Bunker sackten teilweise nur weg und konnten nicht vollständig zerstört werden. Irgendwann gaben die Russen auf. Die Bunker waren übrigens zur Tarnung wie Bauernhäuser gebaut. Außerdem sollten von den spitzen Dächern die Bomben abprallen und herunterfallen.

2.2. Maybach 2

In the vicinity of Maybach 1 there are also the remains of the even more heavily damaged Maybach 2 complex, which used to have 11 houses. The facility was completed in 1940. After the explosions by the Red Army, a large part of the houses that had been blown up were demolished in the early 1950s to extract steel. Only 3 houses, A17, A18 and A19, remained in their ruins. The ring tunnel was closed, only one access to a section remained. The property was used as a practice area and rubbish dump until the GSSD withdrew. Today the remnants of the complex lie fallow largely unnoticed.  The access was quite adventurous.  A museum use of this area is also no longer planned.

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