How many abandoned hospital will you find in and around Berlin, you might ask? Apparently deserted health resorts and sanitariums make for better deserted locations. Well, every urban explorer is thankful for the opportunity. As for the Beelitz Heilstätten, they’re not far away from Berlin. Beelitz, the little town, is famous for its asparagus during springtime, but the Heilstätten are probably more famous among those with a camera.
The 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 hectar. Not all of them are easy to enter, and officially you’d have to book a tour with those responsible (or just don’t get caught). It’s 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; most of us had never been in there before. 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 rooves of the houses.
Aside from being abandoned and therefore interesting the hospital is also quite known because Hitler was here for his WWI sustained injuries. There are a couple of more contemporary horror stories that render the whole expedition rather spooky, like people meeting up for casual sex here (like, here? REALLY?!) and mysteriously disappearing (or, you know, getting murdered and ditched in the haunted house, BECAUSE LIFE JUST ISN’T SCARY ENOUGH AS IT IS). I wouldn’t even consider stepping inside any of the buildings in the dark, let alone to copulate. SERIOUSLY WHO DOES THAT?!
So Beelitz became a military hospital during the first and second World Wars, 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 probably looked harmless, even pretty. It must have smelled of disinfectant, like most hospitals do. There’d be a very calm atmosphere… and then, somewhere in the basement, lots of killed and abused and tortured people who didn’t even know what was happening to them. Super creepy.
After WWII the hospital was taken by the Russians and became the largest Sovjet military treatment facility outside of the motherland til 94. You’d think it’s not that long ago – what, not even ten years and it already looks like nature took back everything man-made in a second. The decay is amazing to look at although I suspect I was a little late to the game already (a couple of months ago I saw pictures in which some of the rooms were still halfway intact, so this summer must have been a blast for those vandalizing and stealing from the interior). 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 and sometimes its still used – aside from horrific blind dates – 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.