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Flak towers in Berlin

Flak towers in Berlin

Flak towers in Berlin

On the night of April 25 to 26, 1940, the British Royal Air Force bombed the German capital Berlin. For Nazi leader Adolf Hitler, it was unpalatable to have bombs hit the capital of his Third Reich.

That is why he dictated the construction of three Flak Towers (German: Flak Türme), indestructible towers with meters-thick walls that had to protect Berlin against new air attacks.

In the Berliner Zoo, Volkspark Humboldthain and Volkspark Friedrichshain, the fortified structures rose from the ground. There was an anti-aircraft gun on top of the Flaktürme. The local population could take shelter in the Flak Towers during a bombardment.

Flakturm Volkspark Humboldthain

The Flakturm at the Volkspark Humboldthain was blown up after the Second World War and buried under rubble and earth; only the northern side is still partly visible. You reach the 42-meter-high top of the tower via a path that circles above the rubble mountain. You can also explore the inside of this Flakturm via Berliner Unterwelten .

Flakturm Friedrichshain

In the Volkspark Friedrichshain, the first public park in Berlin, no tree was left standing after the Second World War. The German army had also erected a Flakturm here. The Allies tried to eliminate the Flakturms with countless bombardments. The fact that several hundred trees were reduced to ashes was a side issue.

The fortification in Volkspark Friedrichshain also served as a cultural safa, as paintings from the Berliner Gemäldegalerie were stored there—a bad idea. Hundreds of canvases were destroyed in a fire on May 6, 1945, including paintings by Caravaggio, Bruegel, van Dyck, etc. Works that we now only know from photographs.

Just like the fortifications in the zoo and the Volkspark Humboldthain, this concrete giant could not quickly be demolished. The Red Army partly blew up the fortification and buried the rest under a pile of rubble and earth, a pile of debris that you can climb today and where you can still catch a glimpse of the Flakturm.

Flakturm Zoo

The Flakturm in the Berliner Zoo escaped the Second World War unscathed, forcing the British army to do everything it could to raze the building to the ground. It was only during the third dynamiting attempt that the reinforcements were destroyed. The rubble was removed afterward.

Nothing in the Berliner Zoo reminds us of the Flakturm of yesteryear. Today, hippos, bears and monkeys crawl around where the Flak Tower once stood.

Flakturm Hasenheide

A fourth Berlin Flakturm was planned in the Volkspark Hasenheide to protect the southern side of the city center. Still, due to the proximity of Tempelhof airport, it was decided to leave the defense to the Luftwaffe. Instead of erecting a fourth Flakturm in Berlin, the Flakturm appeared in Hamburg's Heiligengeistfeld district.

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