In Berlin, a subterranean Nazi-era world(Read article summary)
Under Berlin is a web of lakes, tunnels, canals and factory infrastructure that dates to World War II.
â€˘ A local, slice-of-life story from a Monitor correspondent.
Beneath Berlinâ€™s streets lies a netherworld of underground lakes; canal systems with vaulted ceilings; eerie, Nazi-era murals; and the remains of a Messerschmitt factory. These tunnels, built by Hitlerâ€™s architect, Albert Speer, were intended to run down the north-south axis of Hitlerâ€™s new vision for the city, to be called â€śGermania."
Today, a club called Berliner Unterwelten (Berlin Underworlds) is devoted to mapping and exploring Berlinâ€™s subterranean topography. It leads expeditions into the World War II bunkers and tunnels. Dietmar Arnold, a freelance architect and a member of Berlin Underworlds, believes that the project has the potential to become an offbeat tourist attraction, like the catacombs of Paris, the sewers of Vienna, and the cisterns of Istanbul, Turkey.
â€śBerlin doesnâ€™t have many historical remnants from the Nazi period,â€ť he says. â€śOnly Tempelhof Airport and a couple of other buildings give one an insight into the Nazi mind.â€ť
According to Mr. Arnold, central Berlin is honeycombed with bunkers. The FĂĽhrerbunker, where Hitler spent his last days, was destroyed in 1996, but according to Arnold, some 600 other bunker complexes still exist in Berlin, though most are flooded and inaccessible.
â€śMaybe people are ashamed of our history,â€ť says Arnold. â€śBut we must reflect on our history and make sure that this kind of thing doesnâ€™t come up again.â€ť