Germany values its history, and while Germans may not take pride in all aspects of their history, they certainly value their past. Perhaps this explains why many of the monuments that weren’t destroyed during the war still stand in all parts of the country. The 302 watchtowers that were erected by the Soviets in and around Berlin during the period of its division were not only used to keep an eye on the wall, but were also used as prison holding cells and storage facilities, as well as fulfilling various military purposes. Today, less than a handful remain, and many of the ones that do have not been preserved or well managed by any standards.
This watchtower, located in Schlesischer Park, still has its searchlight and the rifle hatches on its roof. It’s easy to overlook, but it’s worth looking out for. The base of the tower, which hosted all of the cable and telephone wires, was underground. On the ground floor was a holding cell and a toilet. On the first floor was a room for the commanding officer and three guards. And of course the top floor, with windows on all four walls, was where the actual watching took place. As is usual in Berlin, the tower has been marked with graffiti. After all, what kind of landmark would it be without a little paint?
The GDR Grenzwachturm
This BT-6 tower, situated on Potsdamer Platz, is one of the most famous towers left in Berlin. It was built in 1971 and has an octangular head and a round base. The watchtower was used to keep watch over both the borders and the ministries. The shooting range of this tower went from Brandenburg Gate right up to Berlin’s Tiergarten. Currently, there are guided tours to the top of the tower, which offers scenic views over the city.
Erna-Berger-Straße, 10117 Berlin, +30 32678910
The Kieler Eck Watchtower
This tower is privately run by a man called Jürgen Litfin whose brother was shot and killed in 1961 by one of the border guards stationed at the Kieler Eck tower. There is a museum inside, but the hours of opening are a bit random. You can find a statue of a soviet guard looking out of one of the windows at the top of the tower. The tower is located next to the canal and is a bit tricky to find on your own, but many bike tours make a stop here.
Kieler Str. 2, 10115 Berlin, +30 23626183
If you’re interested in the abandoned places of Berlin, this tower is definitely one to look out for. It’s a former inland waterways checkpoint, and allegedly, they used to have a steel rope and a net going through the water to catch any sneaky swimmers or suspicious boats who tried to cross the waters.
This tower is used as a building for an ecological youth organisation and is unfortunately not open to the public. It is located quite far out of the city limits and is not the easiest to get to, but if you are a completist and are interested in locating all of the Berlin watchtowers you can at least check out the exterior.
Postenturm Neumagener Straße
This Stasi watchtower, located in Berlin’s Weißensee, was built in the 1970s and stationed the Hauptabteilung Personenschutz (HA PS). This tower was created as a a security base for party leaders and other visiting foreign officials. Sadly, it has been neglected, abandoned, trashed and graffitied.