In the Berlin underground train system, there’s a particular green door. Thousands of people pass it everyday on the way to work, completely oblivious to what’s behind it. But here, where no one would think otherwise, you can get a taste of Berlin’s bizarre recent history.
At the station named Gesundbrunnen, you can take a tour through the green door and into the underground bunkers that were used to avoid air raids from the World Wars and onwards. The bunker rooms are dank and claustrophobic with low ceilings and thin air. There are old tubes from the pneumatic dispatch system, remnants from underground breweries, a railway cart that was used by the Trümmerfrauen (rubble women) to move debris to special rubbish hills after WWII.
As you can imagine, a tour of the bunkers gives you a bitter taste of what it was like to live in East Berlin during the city’s most tumultuous times.
For Lauren and I, having been on the road for more than 18 months, we were getting a little immuned to the typical tourist attractions. But when we heard of the Berliner Unterwelten (Berlin Underworld) Tours, we just knew it would be something different.
The tours run separately in various languages, including English. And there are separate tours that focus on various periods of Berliner history:
- Tour 1 – Dark Worlds: A tour through a bunker from WWII
- Tour 2 – From Flak Towers to Mountains of Debris
- Tour 3 – Subways, Bunkers, Cold War: Security for civilians in the case of war
- Tour B – The Bunker Tour
- Tour F – The Fichtestrasse “Mother and Child Bunker”
- Tour M – Breaching the Berlin Wall: Subterranean escapes from East to West Berlin
If you happen to visit Berlin, make sure you do one of the underground tours. Chances are that you’ll want to do more than one. The volunteers who run the tours are super knowledgeable and they talk quickly and clearly and pack the tours with all of the gloomy and gory information. Highly recommended!
Here’s the link to their website: http://berliner-unterwelten.de