The Beelitz Heilstätten are not far away from Berlin. Beelitz, the little town, is famous for its asparagus during springtime.
The History of the Beelitz Hospital
The former hospital was built in the beginning of the 20th century, back when tuberculosis was a widespread and merciless disease. Due to the need of proper lung treatment, the Heilstätten near Berlin formed the largest hospital complex of the region. It was easier to cure the disease outside of the dirty, industrialized city. There are about sixty buildings to it, all spread out over 200 hectare. Not all of them are easy to enter, and officially you’d have to book a tour. That said, we didn’t have any problems and didn’t have to climb any fences.
The area is surrounded by a magnificent forest that makes for a great walk. We were initially on a foray for mushrooms nearby when we decided to stop at the hospital. It’s amazing, to say the least. You can walk for half an hour without seeing anything, and suddenly, from between the trees and bushes rises a building that reminds you of the temples of Angkor Wat. It was deserted so quickly that trees have started growing on the roofs of the buildings.
Beelitz became a military hospital during the first and second World Wars. The hospital is also quite known because Hitler was treated here for his WWI injuries. And if that isn’t eerie enough: during the Nazi reign, it was also used as cage for all sorts of inhuman experiments.
While strolling through the dark and dirty hallways, with all the shattered glass on the ground and the graffiti on the walls, I imagined what it must have seemed like – only sixty years ago. It must have smelled of disinfectant, like most hospitals do.
After WWII the hospital was taken by the Russians and became the largest Sovjet military treatment facility outside of The Motherland until 1994.
When the Russians left, not many people were interested in re-investing in the building. Since most of them are monument protected, it’s going to be very costly to put the hospital back into work. There are, in fact, some small parts of the complex still used for neurological research and rehabilitation, but we didn’t pass those. The majority of the hospital has been left. Sometimes its still used – aside from terrible sounding blind goth dates 1- as filming sets.
The city has successfully sold the premises to a buyer who is allegedly trying to make a new health resort out of it, but there are no signs of progress yet. The decay is amazing to look at, but as always, abandoned buildings are never left quite alone. It’s only a question of time until nothing of the interior will remind future visitors of its function as a hospital.