Friday, 19 June 2015

Vava Vol - 1984 Berlin Bunker Buster Babe

In the winter of 1984, on a night off from performing in Berlin, I had an opportunity to visit an underground bunker situated in the middle of Berlin beneath Alexanderplatz.  That winter evening my friends and I trudged through the snow to an inconspicuous sidewalk grating which, upon being lifted out, exposed a narrow stone stairway leading downward into an underground bunker. At the entranceway we were greeted by an old burned out electrical box which confirmed the bunker’s WWII construction and electrical engineering.

It was pitch black down there and all we had was one industrial flashlight to guide the way.  My friend had visited this place before and he led us down through the empty maze.  I was told to stay close by and not to wander, as this particular bunker was enormous.  One would not want to get lost in here!

My first impression was the odor down there, which was not too bad considering there was little or no air circulation.  The concrete walls and floors were very clean and there was no debris or garbage anywhere, just rooms and corridors and more rooms.  Although we were only several feet underground, you couldn’t hear a noise.  A very compelling and haunting place this bunker was. 

As we walked around, every room was painted with a sign indicating the limit of the number of people allowed per room.  This is where citizens would huddle during the Berlin air-raids.  This particular bunker provided shelter to 1,300 people.  In one room there was a sign that said “Gasschleuse” or “Gas Lock”, which would automatically lockdown the bunker from a poison gas attack.  I noticed about three feet of the walls had been stained brown and was told it was due to flooding in the bunker.  Water was constantly being pumped out through a line to the subway tunnels. We didn’t hang around down there too much longer as a sense of doom and gloom eventually swept around us.  Yes, if walls could speak, what stories they would tell.

All Photos © 1984 from the Vava Vol Berlin Archives.  All rights reserved.