1. THE IDYLLIC FREUDENBERG Over shady avenues, past wind turbines and sunflower fields, our path leads us just 50 km north of Berlin to Freudenberg – a tranquil and idyllic community populated with about 250 souls.
The village was first mentioned in 1375. Since then, not much seems to have changed here – at least at first sight. This village – the epitome of a quiet and sleepy little Brandenburg village – may have a church and even three village ponds, but we’re looking in vain for a supermarket, a restaurant or at least a bakery here.
As we leave the center of the village in a northerly direction, a thick pine forest rises on the left hand side, which held a for long well-kept secret in its thicket.
2. MORE THAN JUST BARRACKS Behind a rusting steel gate, past a long-abandoned gatehouse, we enter a former military compound whose run-down and slightly morbid charm evokes memories of the Cold War era. But soldiers have not entered the terrain for decades – nature is conquering back the terrain piece by piece.
Single barracks, warehouses, and a power plant – locals used to think the area was simply barracks for the GDR riot police. No one suspected that anything might lie beyond: Behind a steel door, well-hidden in the basement of a plattenbau, there lies a 260-meter-long tunnel-maze. Here begins the descent to the underground shelter for the GDR Interior Minister and his staff in the event of a nuclear war.
3. INSIDE THE BUNKER OF THE GDR INTERIOR MINISTER Through airlocks for decontamination, tight passageways lead to three separate sections of the bunker. Two of them have their own garage complex: six buses with employees of the ministry could have parked behind these enormous gates. For distraction purposes, barracks were built over their entire length.
However, the third section of the bunker was not overbuilt, as it was the most important part of the bunker complex. Here laid the rooms of the Interior Minister: an operating room and the meeting room, which has a movable map wall where the fortunes of the state under attack would have been controlled.
In 1986, the bunker went into operation. More than 100 million GDR marks went into the construction of it.
The Minister of the Interior and his entourage could have survived here for three days.