Haunted by its Nazi and Soviet past, the outskirts of Berlin is dotted with what have now become abandoned military bases. When you read Abandoned Berlin’s experiences in Krampnitz, it sounds like an untouched piece of history that local’s would rather forget. However, one of the joys of the internet is that sites like this don’t stay secret for long.
Krampnitz was used by the Nazis from 1937 as a horse-riding and cavalry school. It was abandoned on 26th April 1945 and was claimed by the Soviets the very next day. They, in turn, abandoned it almost 50 years later when the Soviet Union dissolved in 1992.
The site is easily visible from the highway, its high walls crumbling and almost all windows either smashed out or bricked up. It’s a captivating view, if you’re into that sort of thing. Climbing over a broken section of the brick wall makes entry easy, Krampnitz looks like something out of a post-apocalyptic movie. The silence is oppressive, only broken by the sounds of passing cars, any one of which could contain a security guard demanding €50, if the online forums are to be believed.
I visited Krampnitz in the days following storm Xavier, where hurricane force winds battered Berlin and its surrounds. The streets and avenues of Krampnitz, already in an obvious state of disrepair from being abandoned for almost my entire lifetime, were now littered with fallen trees and branches. Many of the roofs have also collapsed, however its impossible for me to say if this is as a direct result of the storm.
It seems like anything linked to the Soviets has been souvenired over the past decade or so, the only exception being things that are cemented in place. I spent about 3 hours walking (climbing, falling) around Krampnitz and still managed to miss some things. If I had my time over again I would scour Seb’s (of Between Distances fame) Instagram account even more thoroughly than I did.
Most Nazi propaganda was painted over in red paint when the Soviets took charge, however, the mosaic of an eagle clutching a swastika in its claws is a Krampnitz legend. Some claim it was installed for ‘Inglourious Basterds‘ or ‘Enemy at the Gates‘ which were both filmed at Krampnitz.
I didn’t find it, and the building that I believed it would be in has recently been cinderblocked within an inch of its life. The photo above is at least 7 years old too, so who can say what condition it would be in now considering the volume of urban explorers who would have passed through the base in that time. If you enter through the south-east corner near the bus stop, like I did, the first building you will come to was the Officer’s Mess. The one across from that is the one you are looking for.
The more time I spend researching this place, which, in typical Lara fashion was mostly after I had already visited, the more there is to see. I’ll definitely make another pass at it next time I’m in the Berlin area. My advice is to have a good look online before you take a look in person.
How to get to Krampnitz Military Base
Krampnitz military base is readily accessible by public transport from central Berlin. I used Berlin’s free public transport app ‘VBB Bus & Bahn’ to plan my trip and found it worked really well. I took the RE1 regional train from Alexanderplatz to Potsdam Hauptbahnhof and then the 638 bus towards Rathaus Spandau. As you exit the station at Potsdam, the bus stop you need will be across the road and around the corner to the right. Get off at the stop is called Krampnitzsee (no excuses if you miss it!) and the broken down wall is right near the bus stop. The trip only takes about an hour and will only set you back a couple of euros.