NSA Field Station Teufelsberg
THE ABANDONED STATION IN GERMANY
The ‘NSA Field Station Teufelsberg’ in Berlin was one of the premier listening posts of the Cold War. The station was built in 1946 and abandoned in 1995. Today it is an event location with street artists showing their work.
In the early 20th century, the area was covered in bogs and mud, but that all changed when the Nazis came to power. In 1937 construction works for a military-technical college started. When the Second World War broke out, only the shell of the compound was finished and work on the facility was put to halt. During the war, the place was used to store ammunition. Allied bombing raids damaged the unfinished buildings, and after the war the remains were torn down. In 1950 the site was a dump for rubble from Berlin’s ruins. As a result, the hill grew to 55 meters and the Teufelsberg was born. For a time, the hill served as a ski-hill, before it was re-purposed by as a listening station.
The British and the Americans
The field station was built after the Second World War by the US Army. The Teufelsberg station was situated in the British sector of West Berlin, so the US services were technically a guest there. The British Armed Forces also had one building on the hill and a very high metal grid antenna tower. Eventually, this tower was removed around 1992. Situated on top of the highest point in West Berlin, the station had a very good reception of signals from all directions. And of course viewed from West Berlin, in all directions was to the East. All buildings are connected by covered walkways, except the dining facility, the small Jambalaya radar tower and some minor outlaying utility constructions.
Spying operations began from Teufelsberg in 1961, with construction of the permanent radar domes in 1963. The site became an integral part of the ECHELON program, a secret surveillance program involving the governments of Australia, Canada, New Zealand, the United Kingdom and the United States. Without Teufelsberg, it is hard to imagine how ECHELON would have been able to successfully spy on radar communication from behind the Iron Curtain.
Spying at Teufelsberg continued around the clock, right up until 1989. The Hill, as it was called by the American NSA employees that worked there, was then vacated. After the end of the Cold War and the departure of the allied forces, the complex was used for air traffic control until 1999, when the city government sold it. However, all the plans for a new use came to nothing.
Due to construction work, aimed at building expensive apartments in the area, some buildings were demolished. At the present time, the ruins of the station and its satellite dishes are covered in graffiti and exude a morbid charm. I visited the ‘NSA Field Station Teufelsberg’ in 2008.