Heeresversuchsanstalt Hillersleben

Built: 1935

Abandoned: 1994

Demolished: 2013

Visited: 2012

Hillersleben, Germany

In the mid 1930s whole villages have been demolished to built a 30 km long and 12 km wide no-mans land. It was used to test the most modern and dangerous artillery weapons. During my visit a big part of this site transformed into a ghosttown. The site was located on the outskirts of the peaceful village Hillersleben in the North of Saxony-Anhalt. An abandoned hospital, a power station, a theater and cinema, endless barracks blocks and many sports facilities are in the midst of a jungle of wild bushes and trees. It had its own newspaper, its own radio and a modern shopping centre.

Red Army

After the end of the Second World War in 1945, the Red Army took over the modern military base that was built in 1935. It was made into the biggest and most secret military training grounds outside the Soviet Union. Troop movements, low level flights, tank battles and bombing, the Russians were subject to no restrictions, and shaped the daily life for nearly 50 years. About 30,000 Soviet soldiers of the 47th Panzer Division were stationed in the barracks of Hillersleben, in addition to a village with a population of just 800. Hillersleben was named ‘Little Moscow’. What happened behind the walls was top secret, even for the villagers.

Hillersleben had a strategically important position in the cold war. The border with the Federal Republic of Germany is only about 30 km from here. After the Soviet army left in 1994 the Bundeswehr took over the adjacent training area to train future combat missions with the latest laser technology. The barracks town in Hillersleben was abandoned. In 2010 a Hamburg-based investor bought the historic barracks area. The barracks were demolished in 2013 to make place for a solar field.

Photos Heeresversuchsanstalt Hillersleben

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