Bunker Kossa – A Preserved Cold War Military Bunker in the GDR

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The history of the underground installation in Kossa-Söllichau begins in the 1930s under Hitler’s rule.

In 1935, an affiliated company of the German chemicals giant WASAG, named Deutsche Sprengchemie Moschwig and devoted to the mass production of explosives for warfare use, had a new plant built in the rather uninhabited forest area between Leipzig and Wittenberg.

The plant, codenamed ‘Beech’ (or ‘Buche’ in German), was updated over the years and turned into a major production center for several models of shells and high-explosive charges. A primary contractor of the German Army, the company also held relevant patents, including one for hollow charge grenades.

By the end of WWII in April 1945, when the area fell under Soviet control and production was halted, the plant counted 3.600 employees, and had a production capacity of around 600.000 ammunitions per month. It had been provided with a dedicated road and railway connection, and built mostly underground, with several concrete bunkers surfacing from the grassy terrain around.

Following the Potsdam agreement (July 1945), the area was completely flattened by the hand of the Soviets, similar to some other production facilities in Germany. Demolition had been completed by the end of 1947. Following that, the area remained silent for more than a decade.

By the early 1960s, with the Cold War and rearmament in full swing, the the Nationale Volksarmee, or NVA – the short name of the Armed Forces of the GDR – had been long established as an ally of the Red Army. The latter was physically present in Germany with a huge number of troops and war material, having taken over many of the former German bases from WWII (see here or here for instance). However, the GDR clearly had its own Armed Forces, which actually could count on high-quality war material, typically either manufactured in Germany or supplied by the USSR. More and more locations – especially the most secluded and easy to hide – got surrounded by fences, and ended under the control of the NVA for many different purposes.

Deployed on the border with the West, and considered a reliable and well-trained partner by the Red Army, the NVA was included in the war plans conceived in Moscow, intended to unfold in the event of an open war with the neighbor NATO Countries. The NVA had two larger military districts, south of Berlin (III) and north of Berlin (V). In case of war, district III would give birth to a 3rd Army of mixed GDR/USSR forces, to quickly push towards the south-west into Federal Germany (heading to Koblenz), and from there to the Atlantic coast, to be reached in a matter of a few days.

The headquarter of the 3rd Army was in the so-called ‘Mosel’ bunker, an underground command facility near the town of Zwickau, today converted for an alternate use and not visible at all.

An alternate control site, which was also primarily involved in drills and training, was built in the area of the former ‘Beech’ installation, and took the name of ‘Bunkeranlage’ (i.e. bunker installation) Kossa-Söllichau. This site was prepared in the years 1976-79, and consisted mainly of 5 large interred bunkers on the same premises, capable of resisting to tactical nuclear blasts, with up-to-date systems for communication, and an ability to replicate war situations, so as to carry out realistic and complicated tactical simulations and drills. The staff was typically of 400.

Similar to the majority of military assets in Germany – and especially within the super-militarized ex-GDR – Kossa was incorporated in the Armed Forces of reunified Germany (1990), but was soon declared surplus, deactivated and handed over for civilian use.

A society of enthusiasts is today running this former facility, keeping it open for visitors on a regular basis. What makes Kossa an exceptional destination for both the general public and the most committed war tourist as well is the great state of conservation of the entire facility. As it can be seen in the following photographs, taken in Summer 2022, inside the bunkers it is possible to see not only the original structure, but most of the original communication systems, paneling, signs, furniture, lamps, toilets, lighting, wallpaper, etc. making the place a very vivid testimony of the Cold War years.

All in all, this is one of the best surviving specimens of bunkerized NVA sites, and definitely worth a visit for a rich in detail full immersion in the military technology and history of the Cold War years.

Sights

A visit to the Kossa site will start walking past the original inner gateway to the bunkerized part of the complex. The original wall going all around the entire military area has been partly removed, allowing to get direct access to the ‘core’ of the installation by car. Traces of the electrified fence running all around this inner part of the complex are still standing. The entrance to a bunker for the guards can be seen in this area, but this cannot be visited.

The core of the complex with the military bunkers is aligned along a single, mostly straight technical road, built with large concrete slabs. The road track today is the same as in the original pre-WWII complex, and for this reason, it was not camouflaged. Other buildings in the complex, an even the connection roads departing from the main one, are painted in camo coat, for deception in case of overflight by plane or satellite.

The ticket office today is hosted in a large technical building by the entrance. In this area there used to be canteens and other services.

Past the entrance to the bunker area, it is possible to visit five bunkers, which will be listed next.

Computer Bunker

Four out of five bunkers (the exception being the intelligence bunker, see later) are built around the same blueprint. They have a single entrance door, deceived under a small wooden hut. Access to the bunker is via a security and decontamination path. At first you see a big camera at the level of your face, and an intercom panel, all for identification. Next follows a sequence of tight doors, at a close distance from one another, producing three small tight compartments.

In case of nuclear/chemical contamination, faced in wartime, in the first compartment you could take an anti-poison kit, EP-68. Exemplars of this are still in place. In the next compartment you had to throw away all your clothes and belongings, which were put through a hatch to the side. In a third small compartment, you found a shower – a central passage in the decontamination process, even in case of exposition to nuclear events.

Through a last tight door, you could finally enter the clean area of the bunker. Here regular toilets and showers can be found, before going down one level, to the technical part.

Back then, there used to be three levels of air sealing. No air sealing, in regular, no-war/no-drill conditions, meant the decontamination procedure was not activated, and the bunker was ventilated with fresh air. In sealing conditions, typically at war but not under direct attack, the bunker was tight closed, and air was pumped from the outside through huge filtering canisters, purpose designed to stop both smoke and other gases, or poisonous chemicals. On the third level of air sealing, corresponding to an emergency condition (e.g. a direct attack), no air was pumped from the outside, and special filters capturing carbon dioxide allowed to carry on for a limited amount of time – reportedly a shorter time than granted by food or water storage.

Filters for the air conditioning system (sealing level 2) and for adsorbing carbon dioxide (sealing level 3) were made in the USSR. Those for carbon dioxide are scattered around the bunkers, and feature a rather vintage Soviet look, with a prominent five pointed star on top. The label carry the assembly year, in most cases the early 1970s.

Once downstairs, you can appreciate the construction of the bunker lower level, based on prefabricated concrete frames. The bunkers in Kossa were capable of resisting blasts typically from smaller tactical devices, and were ranked at the fifth strength level (level ‘E’), the first level being the strongest.

Here a few rooms are still perfectly preserved with computers, of which the most impressive is a mainframe AP-3, working with magnetic tape. The GDR could boast a top-notch electronic industry within the Eastern Bloc, and all consoles and electronics in Kossa bear local labels.

The purpose of the computers, deemed so relevant to create a bunker specifically for them, was the fast elaboration of all information from the war theater. The latter was both local and global, since thanks to the links reaching the site through the intelligence bunker (see later), information of any kind could be elaborated, allowing the constant updating of operation maps, and the monitoring of all war assets. In drills, the computation capacity of the the system allowed to simulate events, thus forming the core of war-game operations.

A small part of the same bunker, a kind of mezzanine, was designed as a small hospital – all exhibits are original here as well.

More items on display in this area include original dosimeters and gear for checking radiation levels – either GDR- or USSR-made. In the connecting corridors are an intercom and an alarm horn – just examples of the perfectly preserved material on display.

Command Bunker

The command bunker shares the general arrangement with the computer bunker. A full anti-chemical/biological warfare suit is displayed by the entrance, ahead of the decontamination facilities. This type of suit should be worn over regular garments, and made for a very uncomfortable, ultra-warm and suffocating top layer, which reportedly caused extreme sweating.

The focus here is a control room, with a large table and an operation map, as well as connections through several lines to the relevant information networks. On one side of the control room are desks for telephone operators. On another, watches and chronographs. Also interesting are two TV-scopes, which allowed to plot useful information especially in case of drills.

Examples of maps for military drills are scattered all around. Since war plans were all variations on the same theme – a quick attack pushing to the west – all corresponding maps feature this type of planned motion, from within the borders of the GDR to the FRG. The name of the drills can be seen clearly stated on the maps – for instance ‘Grenzschicht – 81’ from 1981.

Other rooms on the underground level feature very interesting examples of machinery for translating information to/from paper maps, even physical 3D maps with elevation!

Satellite or spy-plane images of the site are on display as well. The site of Kossa was reportedly not far from the southernmost of the three air corridors reaching West-Berlin from the FRG. However, even though the site was not unknown in the West, its purpose remained largely a guess for the duration of the Cold War – and likely so also for the local civilian population.

Technical Bunker

A major concern in the Cold War was that of the survival of the chain of command in the event of a total nuclear war. This led to the implementation of additional on-site plants, for self-sustained operations in case a nuclear explosion nearby made the area unsuitable for human life, or when links with the surroundings were lost. These plants included primarily power generators, typically large Diesel engines with their fuel tanks, and drinkable water tanks. As seen in the computer bunker, also breathable air was a major concern.

In the technical bunker in Kossa, similar in shape to the previous two, at least two large power generators can still be seen – and smelt… – on the underground level. Several electric parts for replacement are also there. Another room hosts large drinkable water tanks.

An interesting preserved office for a commanding officer still retains its original GDR wallpaper, and additional comfort is provided by a fake wood pavement.

Large electric cabinets take a big room, where instrumentation for radiation measurement is on display nearby.

Other particulars include a dial telephone with a reminder of the quick reaction numbers, including the Volkspolizei – the name of the People’s Police of the GDR, which can be seen on a label!

Intelligence Bunker

The intelligence bunker is way larger than the others in Kossa, and is also more articulated. Access was possible via two bulky metal gates, located at an underground level on the far ends of the bunker, and reached through truck-sized ramps from ground level.

Behind the door, a tunnel of prefabricated concrete allowed to store many vehicles – typically trucks, jeeps and trailers, including vehicles with communication functions.

To the interred back of the tunnel, a human sized hatch gave access to the pressurized, tight area of the bunker. This inner area, completely interred, is surrounded by a concrete case, built by a single pouring to avoid the creation of weak junctions, and such to withstand intense blasts.

Following a tight compartment, with an array of original air-filtering canisters on display, you get access to a long corridor, providing access to some rooms with technical gears for communication. Here communication with different levels of secrecy were managed, accessing all the existing links implemented in the years of construction within the GDR, and between all Countries of the Warsaw Pact and the USSR.

A first room is centered on a large console, with an original teleprinting device still in place – top-notch for the time. Still in use today in some businesses, teleprinting is a very reliable way of communicating, which is also less prone to interception than telephone.

An adjoining room managed contact with three wired systems of communication, working at increasing levels of encryption security, and used for transmitting routine or less-standard orders. These systems included S1 and SAS communication protocols. The corresponding transmitters/receivers – now very rare pieces of machinery – can be seen on display.

Encrypted incoming messages were sent to a special room, where they were translated in human language, before being internally forwarded to the command bunker. Similarly, encryption facilities were all in another room, where outbound communications were made ready for transmission.

An impressive technical room is stacked with communication electronics. The number of components is really high, and reflects a very high performance, achieved by means of top level, but relatively bulky, components from the 1970s.

A room in this bunker is dedicated to the ‘BARS’ system (‘БАРС’ in Russian), a troposphere (i.e. not wired) transmission system within all States in the Warsaw Pact and with the USSR. Beside an indigenous transmission protocol, the system made use of purpose-designed antennas, with easily deployable nodes put on wheeled trucks. An evoking, very interesting map of the fixed nodes of the system, in Russian, can still be seen on a wall. The desks for the operators of the system are just besides.

Another interesting item is the control panel of a micro-wave antenna, installed in Kossa at a shallow underground level, in an area which can still be located, corresponding to an inexplicable grassy lot along the main road in the site. This antenna system was apparently never used, on grounds of energy consumption and potential damages to other systems in the Kossa site.

Back outside, close to the intelligence bunker are an original weather station, placed nearby a radiation detection system – looking like a bell bolted to the ground. Examples of connection roads covered in camo paint can be seen in this area. Along the main road of the site, many ramps give access to semi-interred lots, where technical trucks used to be placed for operations.

An example of these trucks is a Soviet trailer for enemy signal jamming. This is well preserved both inside and outside. The label tells the construction year – 1986.

Museum Bunker

The last visitable bunker is similar in shape to the former three, and has been converted into a collection of items from the history of the old WASAG site, the NVA bunker and the Cold War.

Propaganda items from the GDR enrich this interesting collection, as well as rare photographs from the totally gone ‘Beech’ site originally developed in the Third Reich years. Also on display are detailed designs of the weapons produced here in WWII.

Getting there and Visiting

The Kossa installation can be easily reached by car, roughly 20 miles south of Wittenberg and 30 miles northeast of Leipzig. Exact location here.

The Kossa bunker is professionally managed by a dedicated Society. Their website is here. They speak only German, and the website is in German accordingly. Opening times are published for the season, and are basically in all weekends in the warm season. A synthetic leaflet in English can be obtained. However, the basic notions on this page may also help in getting much of the visit.

Two separate tickets can be purchased, one for a self-guided visit of the computer, technical and museum bunkers, and another for a guided visit of the command and intelligence bunkers. The guided tour is offered only once per day in German, in the early afternoon as of 2022.

A good strategy for a complete visit may be checking in during the morning, visiting the self-guided part, having a packed lunch, and taking the guided tour.

I followed that plan. This meant a stay of roughly five hours. The report on this page was obtained visiting the site together with Dr. Reiner Helling, who offered me a very detailed insight of the Kossa site, before we took the guided tour.

Photography is allowed everywhere. Flash/tripod generally not needed, at least with high-ISO sensors.

Possibly only cash accepted at the ticket counter.

Soviet Depots for Nuclear Warheads in the GDR

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Despite their great destructive potential and strategic relevance, nuclear assets were deployed far from the ‘centers of power’ in Moscow and Washington by both the USSR and the US. As the front of the Cold War was especially ‘hot’ along the border between the Warsaw Pact and NATO Countries in central Europe, large arsenals of nuclear weapons were deployed to the area, on both sides of the Iron Curtain, and in several instances over time.

On the western side this was not hidden and led often times to protests in Countries like the UK, West Germany and Italy, so that the history of the presence of a nuclear arsenal in those Countries can be traced with some accuracy, albeit not easily. Conversely, much less is known about the deployment of Soviet nuclear arsenals over the territory of the former Eastern Bloc, making this segment of Cold War history especially mysterious.

History – in brief

In this Cold War scenario, the German Democratic Republic (GDR, or DDR in German) received special consideration by the Soviets. Thanks to its advanced position in Europe and the local, much trusted ‘hardcore’ communist regime, the USSR planned the deployment of early strategic missiles – SS-3 Shyster and SS-4 Sandal – starting already in the late Fifties, the years of Khrushchev. Traces of an actual deployment exist in Vogelsang and Furstenberg, about one hour driving north of Berlin (see this post about Vogelsang, and this about the mysterious deployment of missiles in the area).

Later on, in the early years of Brezhnev as leader of the USSR, it was decided that for a prompter and more flexible response in case of an attack, nuclear warfare especially for tactical use should be deployed outside of the USSR borders, to Countries in close proximity with the West. On the other hand, strategic warheads and missile systems could be withdrawn to within the USSR, as more technologically advanced intercontinental ballistic missiles had become available, making a hit of a foreign objective possible even from deep inside the Soviet borders.

Consequently, deployment of air launched nuclear warfare started in selected Soviet airbases, which were really not in any shortage in the GDR – considering both the national air force (NVA) and the Soviet aviation, the DDR used to be one of the world’s top countries in terms of airbases per square mile, or per resident. You can see several posts on former Soviet bases in the GDR on this website (look here, here and here).

For military corps not operating from airbases – especially missile brigades – the headquarters of the Red Army in Moscow deemed necessary the deployment to the GDR of nuclear warheads for tactical or theater missiles.

Two depots were built anew in dedicated installations specifically for hosting such warheads. One was in Stolzenhain, codenamed ‘Objekt 4000’ and sometimes referred to as Linda (the name of a village nearby), close to the highly-militarized area of Juterbog (see this post) and Kloster Zinna, about one hour driving south of Berlin. The other was again close to Furstenberg, and named Lychen-2, and codenamed ‘Objekt 4001’.

The nuclear bunkers in Stolzenhain and Lychen were payed for by the GDR – through a governmental agreement with the USSR – which always detained official property of the facilities, and were built by German workers, around the year 1967. Once ready, in 1968 the bunkers were handed over to Soviet staff, and the corresponding areas totally closed to non-Soviets. The bunkers, as other similar facilities in other Countries of the Warsaw Pact, communicated directly with Moscow, as similarly to the US, only the top of the command chain could authorize the use of nuclear forces.

The facilities were kept running until the end of the Cold War. Control was officially given back to the agonizing GDR in 1990, the Soviets having transferred all valuable material to the (agonizing) USSR.

Here the story splits for the two installations. While the Lychen bunker has been selected for interment, the installation largely being demolished around 2015, forgotten and reclaimed by nature, as of 2019 the Stolzenhain bunker is in a far better condition, apparently in private hands, and albeit plans for it are sadly similar to Lychen, it may be still in time to be turned into a unique, world-class museum.

About this post

This post covers both Lychen-2 and Stolzenhain bunkers. The former was explored in the summer of 2019. The latter was explored a first time in 2019, and in a second instance with the guidance of its owner Manfred van Heerde and the nuclear scientist and historian Reiner Helling in 2021. As the Stolzenhain installation is still in a relatively good shape, you can also get an understanding of what the inside of these bunkers looks like, their design and specific features. Pictures of this installation from above can be found in another chapter (see here).

Navigate this post – click on links to scroll

Sights

Objekt 4000 – Stolzenhain

The Stolzenhain bunker, aka ‘bunker Linda’, due to the name of a nearby village, is a perfect specimen of this type of construction (codenamed Monolith-type – see also this post for similar sites in nearby Poland, including one open as a museum). It is composed of two adjoining sub-parts – an area with larger barracks and ‘soft’ constructions, and a larger area were two twin bunkers for warheads are located, together with smaller service buildings and smaller service quarters for the troops. The two areas are arranged along a north-south direction, with the bunker area north of the barracks area.

Today, access to the barracks area is mostly interdicted – you may venture in by foot, but there is a gate which does not allow getting in by car, despite the relatively good condition of the road. The premises are in private hands, and some demolition/reconstruction/conversion works are being carried out here. There is also a service building, looking like a private residence, built in recent times.

Main Gate and Outer Buildings

The main access road features typical prefabricated concrete slabs, found in most Soviet/communist installations everywhere in eastern Europe. Halfway between the external gate and the barracks area, traces of an external wall can be found, with a couple of ‘welcome stones’.

A closer look to the slabs reveal a rather poor quality material used for manufacture. Writings are excerpts of the Soviet constitution, presented as mottoes in Russian, with some communist symbols.

The barracks and some softer constructions date from the Seventies – the frieze on the sidewalls of the buildings tells it quite clearly. The area is protected by a concrete wall, bearing a probably original greenish camouflage.

In the years of operation, there used to be four large apartment blocks aligned in a row, just ahead of the entrance to the area of the barracks. These buildings were for the officials and their families. While still inside the external fence of the base, these apartments allowed more privacy and convenience, forming a de facto little Soviet village in the GDR, segregated from the surrounding German community. This housing has been completely demolished today. However, some trace of correlated ‘civilian’ facilities can be found to the south of the barracks area.

In particular, a swimming pool was built at a certain point in the history of the base, and it is still in a relatively good shape. Changing rooms for men and women are still there. A tall springboard and starting blocks still face the pool, which is apparently watertight, despite the greenish water not being really attractive!

The pool features an outer fence, with a service gate bearing a characteristic Soviet ‘diverging rays’ motif.

Another facility put specifically for comfort in this area is a sauna/bathing house, a widespread Russian tradition. The sauna building in Stolzenhain features several smaller adjoining rooms, with pools, sauna/Turkish bath areas, a central heater, as well as more general purpose sitting rooms with fireplaces. A video studio was also featured in this multi-functional building.

An interesting specimen of Soviet naive art, some frescoes adorn the walls of some of the rooms, with subjects ranging from sea life to women performing ‘spa activities’.

Still outside of the innermost military part, yet inside the external fence of the base, a training ground is to be found to the east of the military area, not too far from the spa building. A walk in the trees along the inner perimeter of the wall of the base is needed to reach this part. A control building with an observation post on top features plenty of instructions for tasks to be performed in a training exercise – in Russian!

Close by, a shooting range for light weapons (rifles, guns) can be found, again with precise indications on the distances to be taken from the target, marked by colored lines on the ground.

Back to the gate to the military barracks area and stepping inside, among the few surviving buildings is a former gym. Despite used as a storage today, the larger hall is clearly a former volleyball/basketball court. A referee chair is still hanging from the sidewall, and sport-themed frescoes decorate the walls.

Former hangars for trucks or technical vehicles can be found in the eastern part of the former barracks area, similar to traces of a fuel pump. As said, most of the former buildings here are now gone.

A special feature in the barracks area is a manhole with traces of a set of cables, pointing towards the highly secretive and guarded bunker area. Communication is of paramount importance for military practice. In the case of nuclear depots so far away from Moscow, a cable connection was implemented not to loose contact under any circumstances between the Soviet headquarters and this peripheral, yet so valuable facility. Pressurized cables were used, such that when an attempt to severe or intercept cable signals was carried out by the enemy cutting the cable, the external jacket was pierced, a loss of pressure was sensed, and an alarm was triggered immediately. Similarly, in the case of an accidental degeneration of the ground where the cable ran, the pressurized jacket was pierced triggering an alarm, allowing the technicians to repair the cable and restore contact.

An old and forgotten Soviet standard service container, typically transported by truck, can be found close to the manhole totally invaded by vegetation. From here, a view to the perimeter concrete wall around the innermost part of the site can be easily seen, with clear traces of camo paint.

Bunker Area

The area of the bunkers is fortified with a concrete wall with barbed wire on top running along all its perimeter. The size of the bunker is immediately apparent from above – you can look at some aerial pictures from a dedicated flight over the area, see this report. There is a gate connecting it to the barracks area. The only other gate to the bunker area, located north on the other end of the complex, opposite to the first gate, is partially obstructed.

For its entire length, the external wall of the bunker area is almost perfectly preserved, and abundant traces of camouflage can be easily spotted all along.

Inside the wall, you soon find a fence of barbed wire with concrete posts, again standard for Soviet military installations. Some sections of the barbed wire are very well preserved, albeit rusty. The overgrown vegetation looks like the only difference between now and the years when the bunker was in operation!

Inside the barbed wire fence, you find traces of an exceptional system of trenches and turrets, which should have granted protection to the innermost part of the complex – the storage bunkers. There are turrets of many kinds, including one which looks like the dome of a tank, re-used for the purpose – a feature also of the Atlantic Wall and the Salpa Line (see here). Such a degree of protection is extraordinary also with respect to other military installations. Abundant traces of barbed wire-holders along the tranches can be easily spotted. The site was clearly considered as an objective of special value, to be seriously defended in case of an attack from the West.

Close to the center of the large fenced area, you soon reach the bunkers (there are a western and an eastern bunker, described below), which despite being mostly underground, feature a small mound on top which allow spotting them from the distance.

Western Nuclear Storage Bunker

Access for the warheads is at the level of the ground. There are two large tight doors corresponding to the two ends of the main hall of the bunker. Below you can see a 3D sketch of the bunker, from a placard found close to Objekt 4001 (the Lychen bunker), describing the inner layout.

By one of the entrances to the bunker is a small loading/unloading platform for two trucks. The apron connecting the platform to the bunker door used to be covered by prefabricated roof tiles – rich in asbestos – and covered with artificial vegetation, of which some traces remain.

The area is overlooked by a firing turret, seating above the front of the bunker.

The external tight door gives access to an airlock, a small square compartment closed to the opposite end by another identical door. This is explained in view of the need to protect the innermost part of the bunker from attacks by means of high-yield weapons. A similar architecture can be found in a Soviet nuclear depot in Szprotawa, Poland (see this post).

From the airlock you get access to a suspended platform, from which you can appreciate the storage facilities of the bunker. There is a main hall, where the warheads were lowered by means of a motorized crane from the suspended platform down to the underground level. From there, they were moved to one of the four long storage chamber, all accessible on the same side of the main hall.

Temperature and humidity of the main hall and storage rooms were perfectly controlled. Ventilation pipes and an impressive array of hangers for heat exchangers can be seen in the main hall.

Access to the underground floor from the suspended platform is only possible with a ladder, passing through a narrow hatch – as usual, it’s hard to understand why the Russians (or the Germans in this case) built passages so narrow and uncomfortable, considering they are not among the shortest human types on Earth… – see this post for another brilliant example…

The storage rooms are very long, and traces of strongpoints for anchoring the warheads safely on ground can be seen surfacing on the floor. The doors between the main hall and the storage rooms, where present, don’t appear to be tight. Most writing is in Russian, but some labels are in German. This can be explained with the bunkers being realized by GDR personnel, upon requirements by the Soviets.

The blue cabinets and piping in the pictures are part of the warhead monitoring plant. Each warhead – the actual number is part of the mystery, but there used to be several tens of them in each of the two bunkers on site! – was kept in a sealed shell, to keep sensitive nuclear material precisely in the required climatic condition. Constantly checking the condition of the warheads was part of the duty of the bunker personnel. For the task, each warhead was moved to the hall and connected to the piping, to take measurements of temperature, pressure, atmospheric composition and similar parameters. In case of an anomaly, the warhead was resent to a major technical facility in the USSR (in particular, in Belarus for the Stolzenhain warheads), for fixing.

To the opposite end of the main hall from the entrance is another identical entrance, with a suspended platform and an airlock. In the case of this bunker, the most external tight door to the far end has been taken off its hinges and put on the floor, whereas that between the airlock and the main hall has been permanently shut.

Back to the main hall, on the opposite side of the storage rooms on the underground floor, it is possible to access a service area, with several smaller rooms connected by a narrow corridor. The function of each room is not difficult to argue, and looking at some details it is possible to make some easy hypothesis.

Electric actuation for the ventilation system may be the function of a first room.

What looks like a kind of hydraulic pumping/water filtering system is located next door, split over three adjoining rooms. The system has been pulled down to the ground, but it is not severely damaged.

Next you can find a reservoir for water, placed in a room close by, painted in green and highly damaged.

Going further along the corridor, you can find a toilet. Poor drainage – don’t forget this floor is entirely underground – meant that the troops spending their shift in the bunker did not use the toilet much, and climbed out of the bunker for their necessities.

Further on, you can see a room which is probably a sleeping room for the troops stationed inside the bunker. A heat exchanger and traces of a sink on the wall may support this theory. Air ducts leading to the surface can be found in recesses close by.

A room with traces of electric material and an electric panel outside may have been an electric power control facility, maybe even a cable communication facility.

Further on, you get access to a power station, where clear traces of a diesel system for supplying electric energy to the bunker can be found. A big reservoir painted in yellow may have been the diesel fuel tank. A stator of an electrical generator can be seen on the floor. Parts of a diesel engine can be found, and what may have been tanks for lubrication oil can be seen on the walls. As it often happens with defense bunkers – even for larger defensive forts since before WWII – the installation was usually powered from the outside grid in peacetime, but it had to be capable of staying active in case of an attack and failure of the external grid. Hence backup generators can be found in most underground bunkers since the 20th century. Especially in the atomic age, when a nuclear attack on the installation was considered a potential scenario, a stress was put on this type of countermeasure.

The diesel engine is earmarked with a Soviet label, witnessing its origin! Similarly, electric motors and components scattered on ground – part of the ventilation system – are ‘made in CCCP’.

Traces of lubrication oil can be found on panels on the floor. Between the power station and the main corridor, a side door gives access to a ladder going up. This was likely the ‘normal’ pedestrian access to the bunker.