THE ABANDONED MILITARY SITE IN GERMANY
In 1935 a large military complex, known as the ‘Löwen-Adler Kaserne’ was built in Elstal. This Nazi Military complex outside of Berlin wasn’t actually one military base, but two: The Adler Kaserne (Eagle Barracks) and the Löwen Kaserne (Lion Barracks).
The military use of this area began in 1713 with the first field exercises under Friedrich Wilhelm I. But officially the construction of the military training area began in 1892 under Emperor Wilhelm II. At the beginning of the First World War, a prisoner of war camp was set up on the western edge of this site. More than 30.000 prisoners from seven nations were held here until October 1918.
The construction of this military site started in 1935. While the Löwen Kaserne originally served as an infantry teaching regiment, the Adler Kaserne next door, served as a base for Cavalry Units. The site was simply named ‘Neue Kasernen’ until 1945. The Flugplatz Döberitz, also located just south of the barracks was used to train new pilots and paratroopers. The Löwen-Adler Kaserne was used to train and form troops right up until the end of the war
In 1936 the Olympic Games were held in Berlin, the Olympic village was built on the training site. Check my report on this Olympic Village. The ‘Löwen-Adler Kaserne’ gained nationwide notoriety due to the plot to assassinate Hitler and overthrow the current military regime. The plan was codenamed Operation Valkyrie. The attempts failed.
After the war ended in 1945, refugees were temporarily housed there until the Soviet forces took over the entire area and stationed nearly 20.000 soldiers there. Between Elstal and Dallgow a small Soviet city with schools, shops, a hospital and a police station was built. While it wasn’t expressly forbidden, there was little contact between the soviet soldiers and the East German Population. Ordinary soldiers were only permitted to leave in groups, and even within the Soviet territory they needed permits to go to other areas inside the camp.
The site was abandoned in 1992. Still today a small part of about 800 ha in the south the Döberitzer moor is used as a training site for Berlin and Potsdam stationed armed forces. The biggest part of the moor is now a listed nature monument. The barracks had become a regular haunt for paint ballers, right wing fanatics and the usual vandals. The Lion Statue which had been taken care of by the Nazis and then the soviets had become a regular target of vandalism and graffiti. A local initiative managed to remove the statue in 2015 and move it to a safe place for restoration. I visited the barracks in 2008.