Life

Visit an abandoned former Soviet army base

  Jürgen Naumann is the caretaker of a “forgotten world” called Wunsdorf. It is a small town about 40 kilometers from the center of Berlin. Today, as a resident of Germany, he lives with remnants of the past every day.
  The clock on the clock tower built in the era of William II stopped forever at 11:16 am. On a hot day in August 1994, all officers and soldiers of the former Soviet army evacuated the small town named Wunsdorf forever, and the small town has been recorded in history ever since.
  Until that day, soldiers with tacked boots had been stationed in barracks with flagstones and hardwood floors for more than a century. Now, everything is calm and peaceful, except for the occasional noise of birds flying into the house through the broken windows, and the rustling of the discarded old Pravda and Izvestia by the gust of wind.
  Discarded with these newspapers, of course, is what was left at that time, which was once called the largest army base in Europe. Dating back to the 19th century, it was once a secret stronghold for the German Kaiser to implement his ambitious military plans. In the 20th century, it became a center for gathering the huge armed forces of the Nazis.
  With the collapse of Hitler’s empire in 1945 and the Soviets taking over, Winsdorf became a city within a city—a Soviet city in the satellite state of the GDR.
  There were 50,000 Soviet troops stationed in this isolated area, and another 10,000 Soviets and GDR staff provided them with logistical services and guarantees. If there was a sudden war crisis during the Cold War, this military base would quickly become the command center for mobilizing tanks, rockets, personnel and possibly nuclear weapons to attack the West.
  Today, the former military base is up for sale, and Winsdorf is up for grabs. However, no one has decided to buy it so far. Jürgen Naumann came to work at the military base during the heyday of the Soviet Union. He used to play volleyball or compete in pistol shooting with Soviet soldiers, and now, as a caretaker, the only surviving figure he shares with as he tours the vast base each day is a statue.
  The statue’s name is Vladimir Ilyich Ulyanov, better known as “Lenin”. Since the fall of the “Iron Curtain”, his statues have been pulled down one by one in cities large and small in Eastern Europe. But the statue is still the master of this “ghost town”.
  ”It’s a shame the place was never used again after things changed,” said Naumann, a 19-year veteran of the National Volksarmy of the German Democratic Republic.
  ”When they pack up and head home, I just sit on the empty floor and eat. They have 50,000 people who have been stationed here, so they always have something to do.”
  ”So they clean up . , cleaning, and finally cleaning something. There is a joke that in Winsdorf, even the leaves are polished.”
  ”The remaining facilities can actually be used for many purposes. The authorities agreed to let the school The kids here use the Olympic-standard swimming pool, but the kids don’t use it. Those sports fields are allowed to be used by residents of a community, and no one uses them.”
  ”So these facilities are abandoned. These buildings were all built in William’s time and could be used if refurbished. There is more infrastructure in this area, what will they be used for?”
  In the hall of the former gymnasium there is a monument in memory of the great 27 million Soviet victims of the Great Patriotic War: Four expressive photographs depict the conditions of the German invaders and ravaged people.
  On the front wall there is a stone carving – two soldiers and a mother with a child; in Winsdorf there is no Catholic church and no Christian church. This type of painting is the power and drive to achieve communism that young Soviet officers and soldiers admired.
  Inside the building, there is a place where medals, trophies and medals won by Soviet officers on the field are exhibited. The stadium they used was also the training ground used by the Wehrmacht officer corps in an earlier era – until the invasion of the Soviet Union in June 1941. The final outcome was that the Soviet army defeated Nazi Germany, occupied Winsdorf, and stayed here for nearly half a century.
  ”Every Thursday night,” recalls Naumann, “a train leaves Winsdorf station for Moscow. This schedule starts at the end of World War II and continues until 1994, when the Soviet troops left. Here, many After the Soviet soldiers were sent in, there was nothing else to do except to watch its departure and observe the daily life in the city. The army commanders did not like the soldiers to socialize with the locals.”
  “In a special style In the circular building, there was a display of a simulated three-dimensional model reflecting the Battle of Berlin. It showed a 180-degree grand war scene, and under the exhibition area were stacked steel helmets, bayonets and various other weapons. It was used in the city. There was an attempt to buy the entire display, but it was not negotiated. Now the entire display is transported to Moscow to be re-displayed in a special building.” The
  Soviet Union did not have any Leave some of the things they have imported, including culture. In one theater, rows of seats numbered in the Cyrillic alphabet (the origin of the Russian, Bulgarian, and other Slavic alphabets) seemed to be waiting for an audience that would never return for a performance. On the stage of the theater there were performances of famous ballet troupes from the Soviet Union. Those actors have also performed for members of the Kremlin’s Politburo.
  These theatrical performances are for the commanders of the Soviet army to watch. Most of them have a far better army life here than in the far east where the Soviet Union belonged. For ordinary soldiers, even listening to the snoring of their comrades in a lifeless barracks with dozens of comrades in arms is better than in the cold Siberian army barracks. Of course, these soldiers also often engage in self-entertaining activities.
  There are also wall paintings left on some buildings. Some paintings express power plants or coal mines in the style of the Soviet Union, and some works are quite alternative: six dwarfs are walking against a background of Disney-style patterns…
  The officers and soldiers of the Soviet army were very concerned about the ability to enjoy hot water and excretory systems Also quite proud. The scenes of that year were also painted on the exterior walls of some buildings where toilets once existed, but the sanitary facilities inside the houses were also dismantled when the troops withdrew and brought back to China. These colorful drawings fade with age.
  Many of the houses on the base still seem to be quite solid, most of them painted a dull yellow color when they were built in the German Empire era. Those who fought and died on the Western Front during the First World War were stationed here.
  Naumann, 59, is nostalgic for the tiled and frescoed swimming pool, which began in 1890. “What a pity! When the Soviets left, it was still intact, even the heating equipment was working,” he recalls. “The last Commander went swimming for a while before evacuating. It’s a pity to see what it looks like now!”
  ”Am I nostalgic? I miss the intimacy of the past, the security of the past. The fact that no one is worried Medical problems, worrying about the salaries of the supply system, worrying about the children’s schooling. But that way of life is ultimately unsustainable.”
  ”The Soviet army enforced strict military discipline on the soldiers when they were here, but as long as they deal with the local residents, the relationship between The relationship between them is still good. They are just a group of fighters far from home.”
  Night fell over Winsdorf. The caretaker Nauman was going to drive the vendors and children out of the base at this time, and then locked the gate. Some naughty children sometimes sneaked into the deserted barracks to play while he was not paying attention. He knew that by the dawn of the next day, history would turn a small page, and that something would be lost forever from this huge, historic former military base.
  ”I hope that these buildings with a great history can be used for something,” he added. “But I don’t think that’s going to happen in the not-too-distant future.”

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