Saturday, 5 April 2008

Back to Beelitz

Last Thursday I made a second visit to the Beelitz sanatorium. I read in the papers that a somewhat trustworthy speculant has recently (finally) bought the sanatorium complex. It's a firm that has previously successfully renovated many properties in Potsdam. Until now, all potential Beelitz developers had gone bankrupt before having gotten anything done. Here's hoping that the old buildings will be restored with respect and love and put to new use in a constructive way that will be rewarding for the whole community.

Since the area will be off-limits once the restauration begins at some point in the future, I wanted to make sure that the first time I went there wasn't the last time. There were some buildings that we didn't visit back in January, and though we explored the surgery building, we somehow managed to miss the perhaps most interesting part - the operation rooms.

The hallway that leads to the operation rooms.

One of the most popular photoshooting locations in the complex ...


Care was taken to ensure plenty of natural light in the surgery halls, with glass roofs and big windows facing north.

The old graffiti is peeling off the tiles

Green, pink, blue, pink

Blue corner


I refuse to believe that this graffiti is anything but a cubist pig. His eyes are two wall sockets. (There was a guy outside here doing something, but I think he didn't see me.)

The hallway again.


Blue OP

Penis room.

Some visitor was a little obsessed. The cracks in the paint on the wall outside almost look like flowers, in the same kind of random pattern as the penises inside. Beautiful!

Blue OP part two.

This time I brought with me a slightly more professional camera that I got to borrow for a work project, because it has a blissfully wide angle compared to my own little Olympus.

Another of the top ten most popular photoshoot locations here

Maybe I, too, should have made a self portrait seated on that sofa.

The staircase around the elevator shaft

The elevator is stuck on the top floor. Maybe now it won't fall down before they get around to renovating the surgery building, after all. I'm a bit curious how exactly they'll dismantle it.

The elevator shaft

Don't put your head inside it if you go there - just in case ...


The sanatorium had a pretty self-sufficient food supply within the complex. They raised cattle and poultry and grew vegetables in greenhouses. This is most likely inside the pig death row ...
I didn't notice the number '3' when I took the photo, so I don't know if it was painted there, or if the paint has peeled in a funny way. In the original photo it looks more like it's peeled like that, but the glare makes it hard to tell for sure. Oh well.

Interior of one of the sheds

A sofa, an armchair and a Soviet soldier's boot.

A burnt-out car in the farmyard

I'm not sure from what era it is. There's a sink that someone has carried inside it for whatever reason, but it doesn't show from this angle.

Some electrical stuff on the wall of the pig house


When entering, you soon realise that during the Soviet period, not only some Kazakhs, but many more of the soldiers and others stationed here left their greetings or "Kilroy was here"-marks in this building. This is a common tradition among Soviet Army soldiers - to write their names on some structure before they are demobilized.

Entry forbidden

This is outside the one of the women's sanatorium buildings that has been heavily damaged since WWII. Already during the times as a Soviet military hospital, entry was forbidden (but technically not now, as there are no warning signs in German).
In black, it says "The building is heavily damaged - entry forbidden". In white, below, it says "Greetings to the countrymen from Kazakhstan - '76-'78".

Again, "Entry forbidden" in black, and in white, "Nurlan Kurlantai - Kaz. SSR"


Usually, they've written their names and their hometowns, maybe with a date or a year. Here is someone from Moscow, Marif from Andizhan and Yura from Nevinomysk.
(Hey, I know a guy from Nevinomysk - but does he know Yura, I wonder?)

Deck chair

In this building the weaker walls have mostly caved in, and have been reduced to rubble on the floors. Someone placed this deck chair in here next to a little table.

In the rubble

Vaulted ceilings

I'm curious what they'll do with this building. While being heavily damaged, most of the main frame is still intact, and it is utterly beautiful and well constructed. I hope they'll rebuild it.

Almost flowery

The peeling paint has formed its own patterns in this wall.

Vadim and Sergei were here 1977

Main entrance

Outside, there are concrete letters forming the words "GUTEN TAG".

The dining hall, I'm guessing.

The roof to that part caved in.

Second floor.


Nice graffiti covering the Soviet greetings.

There seems to be more graffiti in this building than in the others.

"Depeche Karpaty" - Ukrainians?

More nice graffiti art



Third floor - there are trees growing here and there on the building. I feel a bit sorry for them when thinking of the future, when this will likely either be rebuilt or demolished.

Graffiti room

There is another staircase to a fourth floor.

Did I climb it? Sure I did.

But going into abandoned buildings is potentially very dangerous. There are serious risks of falling through floors, cutting yourself up on broken glass, having pieces of the roof fall on your head, stabbing yourself with rusty metal, etc. No one is keeping an eye on the state of the buildings and the things that are inside them, so you're entirely at your own risk. This particular building is very damaged, and when I looked at the roofs from the lower floors I wasn't sure if I wanted to go up there at all. But I was careful to stay close to the walls and tread very lightly.
So, do not attempt this. Let crazy (and lightweight) daredevils like myself bring you these views on photographs, and enjoy them safely at home.

I didn't go on this staircase.

On the roof

I left my tripod downstairs and climbed up those scary stairs, and on the roof, there is this water tank.

My common sense (albeit limited) kept me from going up the ladders to check out if you could see what is inside the tank, although now that I think about it, it might have been interesting. (*remembers the "Dark Water" comic book ...*)

Okay, down the stairs again ...

The beautiful main staircase

"Alma-Ata '91 autumn"


In the women's sanatorium in the south-western part of the complex.


The rude scribblings on the window panes look strangely beautiful.


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