Heilstätte Grabowsee - TB or not TB

Filed 28/5/2011 |
Lurking in the shadows of the forest, Heilstätte Grabowsee creaks and groans through the gloom, the former tuberculosis sanatorium sighing with echoes of the past as it sinks into the resignation of decay.

Trees bend and sway to listen, their rustling branches quivering from the calls of the unfortunate souls who perished and suffered in these crumbling buildings, their solemn corridors, their tarnished halls, their empty rooms.
The breeze rustles from the branches and rushes thoughtlessly through the forgotten wards, swinging doors and windows, banging without respect. It foolishly attempts reviving the unrevivable, leaving new formations of dust and leaves in its wake. Nothing else stirs. No mouse steps paw in these haggard halls, no rat scavenges for discarded bodies. They’re all gone, long long gone.
They’re gone since 1991 to be precise – the Russians that is. They scarpered once they realised they weren’t as welcome anymore in reunified Germany. I’m sure the rats hung around a little longer. Rats don’t give a rat’s ass for politics and will happily live anywhere that isn’t too expensive. That being said, they are more attached to their arses then we are, and would not give them lightly for any reason.
The Russians stayed 50 years, using the place as a military hospital once the war ended, but I was unable to find much detail about their shenanigans.
My search for facts did uncover an altogether more interesting story than that of a nation with more military than sense (just one of them) when I stumbled on the tale of the lost city of Grabow! Apparently the city was destroyed in a “minor earthquake” (must have been made of straw) and was covered by the lake that today bears its name. Locals say you can still see the towers of the city in the lake on a fine day, notwithstanding their supposed destruction by this “minor earthquake”.
Apparently the ruins of Grabow Castle are nearby. The only ruins I found, however, were those of the Heilstätte. The former sanatorium can only be described today as fucked, which is a shame, as I’m sure Gotthold Theodor Pannwitz would agree.
In 1895, Herr Pannwitz was at the Kaiserlichen Gesundheitsamt, where he campaigned for a sanatorium for tuberculosis patients, quickly getting support before it was established at Grabowsee on a trial basis in March 1896. Twenty seven barracks for lung patients were added, and the first 30 patients moved in a month later. I guess they’re all dead now. Nevertheless, it was a success and became the Red Cross Sanatorium for the Working Class, before it was taken over after the Great War by the Brandenburg Insurance Company in 1920. The architect Arnold Beschoren was then responsible for the complex’s expansion and renovation, the results of which are the buildings which are crumbling today. A small church was built beside the lake at the time, but was burnt down by some idiots in 2007.
Of course the other Great War came and went, before the Russians did. A number of commercial enterprises failed, but apparently it was taken over by a crowd called Kids Globe in 2006. They have big plans to turn it into some sort of paradise for kids. Good luck to them. Thankfully the complex is far enough away from Berlin that some fuckbag developer hasn’t turned it into apartments.
It’ll take a helluva lot of money to do anything with this place, giving people a bit of breathing space before it’s “cured” but I wouldn’t wait too long, or the serenity of flaking paint, dust, rust, rubble, shards and impenetrable gloom may be shattered by the shrill screams of snotty kids.
A pigeon frightened the bejaysus out of me as it tiptoed down a long dark corridor – I swear he waited just long enough before flapping his wings for maximum effect – but he was the only soul I met. Old sofas, couches and chairs somehow always make their way to these places, as if drawn by the solidarity of quiet abandonment, and the forest is slowly taking over. It would be nice if it stayed that way.

What
From 1896 to 1945 the former sanatorium for tuberculosis patients of Heilstätte Grabowsee, and from 1945 a Russian military hospital.


Where

Grabowseestraße 1, 16515 Oranienburg, Germany. Beside the lake known as Grabowsee, incorrectly marked on Google Maps as Grabomsee.


How to get there

Bring your bike with you and get the S1 or regional train to Oranienburg, to the north of Berlin. Cycle east on Bernauer Straße until you hit the canal, turn left and follow this along until you come to the bridge which will take you across to the complex.
You’ll pass the Sachsenhausen concentration camp on your way if you fancy a detour. I can’t say I’d recommend it. Here’s a map which may or may not be useful.

Getting in
Hop the fence. Easy enough where someone has conveniently cut a tree to make a handy leg up, confusing as a handy leg may sound.

When to go

Daylight. Whenever it’s not raining would make it less miserable.


Difficulty rating

3/10. Very easy to hop the fence. The hardest part is getting here and finding it, which isn’t that hard if you follow the instructions above.


Who to bring
As with the previous site, whoever. Go on your own if you like being spooked out.

What to bring
Camera. Torch. Sandwiches or something to nibble on. A beer or two for rehydration. Good boots and possibly a hard hat.


Dangers

The buildings are in a terrible state as I may have mentioned before. Watch where you step, and under which roofs you stick your head. Ceilings – like Irish banks – are very much in danger of collapse. Of course, keep an eye out for wannabe informers and any builders or security.

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43 comments

WOW seriously best website EVER! Thank you so much for sharing. Can't wait to go and check some of these places out.

amazing..
been trying to find a website with the info you provide, but yours is better then anything i have seen so far.
thanks!

Just had to say hi, I saw this on a fb home feed - Photo Gallery: The Art of Lost Places - SPIEGEL ONLINE - News - International
www.spiegel.de

went to check it out and one photo struck me in particular (the Heilstätte Grabowsee) and this led me to you.

just love the building and your stories thanks Lisa

Absolutely love this project. I went to Hohenlychen with a few friends once to camp there, I haven't scrolled through all your stuff yet to see if you've been there, in case you haven't, leave me a comment somewhere and I can catch you up with details, it would be really something for you (it's a wee bit outside of Berlin tho).
You've got real style. I'll be sure to follow up on what you write.

Hey Lisa - thanks for the comment!

Mariella - I haven't been to Hohenlychen, but will certainly put it on my list of places to go. It seems pretty well-known but it's obviously worth checking out. Thanks for the tip and the kind words!

Oh my goodness I really wanted to go here tomorrow but I searched a bit further and discovered they do GUIDED TOURS NOW for 30 euros :( :( :( I don't want a guided tour or a bunch of 20 people running around! Oh honestly, 30 euros? Can't they leave anything be??? http://www.heilstaette-grabowsee.de/

I was too shocked to reply to your comment straight away, but HOLY SHIT!!! THAT'S OUTRAGEOUS!!! And then €30!!! Jesus they have some nerve. I suppose you can still visit without paying the €30, and it will probably be more exciting as a result, but I, for one, will not be handing them any money. Jesus Christ, to charge at all is something, but €30?! How the hell can they justify that?!
That's the danger I suppose - once people are interested in something, someone is going to try and make money out of it. it's the same in Spreepark, the same in Teufelsberg. Damnit, they just can't leave anything the fuck alone.

Love your blog! It sent me and a friend to Heilstatte Grabowsee last saturday and it was great. Because of an art festival last month some of the buildings have some amazing graffiti now. But there is a guard dog, who is old but does bark! Was wondering do you know anything about Beelitz Heilstaetten. I heard it used to be open but now closed and patrolled. Any info your eyes may have heard would be great because I really want to head there next! Thanks

Three places I have been to so far ALL have guided tours now, and we ran into them in every place:

Teufelsberg, Beelitz Heilstatten and Spreepark.

I hear that there are some young "entrepreneurs" who run these things, maybe in return for security?

It's a real shame, and such capitalisation! At least do it for free/for a beer or something!

We went here today and looked for a way to jump the fence, all of a sudden a big bearish dog was barking and a friendly guy came out. We explained that we are from New Zealand and we wanted to take some photos and he said (in perfect English) that it's not a problem, just that it costs €30 each. A bit steep.

But he went on to explain that the money is part of a fundraising project to turn part of the property into a practical school for young people, and it sounded pretty legit, only problem is we are poor and could only scrounge €20 between us. He seemed to like us, and the fact that we weren't snooping about, so let the €40 we didn't have slide and let us go in on our own. If you are planning to jump the fence here, be wary of this guys massive dog. It looks like a bear and, I assume, bites like one.

He was actually really really nice and had some useful history about the buildings. We had spent the day before being chased by vigilante security and couldn't be bothered doing that again so we were happy to be free to explore.

The site is still in pretty good condition, and whole areas have recently been used for some art exhibitions so there was some really amazing artwork to see.

They seem to have some big plans for more exhibitions here (the last one attracted 3000 visitors) and the idea of the school http://www.kidsglobe.org/wcms/?grabowsee_0d7
is something we were happy to put a little money towards. I wouldn't call it capitalism. Idealism maybe.

I'm sorry, I'd still call it capitalism. Idealism would be hoping to raise the money from voluntary donations. And idealism certainly doesn't need a dog who looks/bites like a bear to make sure people share the same ideas.

hey there
i've just been to this site two days ago on a saturday, 19 November. There were ten of us. We tried to jump the fence but the guy who works there and guards the place (there are actually two) spotted us (not difficult to spot ten people though!). He explained to us the Globe Kids project and then said that "officially" it now costs 30 euros to go in and take photos. However, we bargained drastically to 6 euros per person and we got in. I think the guy is ok, willing to bargain, and friendly enough, so put on your bargaining hat and go for it. His dog is fairly big but not scary to me, I doubt it is aggressive as it may look to some. The only problem for trying to sneak in is that in that tranquil place and lonely buildings you can hear every footstep so the dog will more than sure start barking. It is a shame indeed that they do not let in photographers for free, and just raise their money from outsiders or whoever. Anyhow I do hope that this academy for kids project they have in mind would at least keep part of the buildings untouched in the memory of its past and its ghosts. They are supposed to be unconventional and about arts and crafts, though I doubt they will let some buildings be, with these kids running around and all these health and safety regulations that strangle our society...
serban

I've been here 3 times now and I doubt I've seen it all. A photographers dream. Thanks so much for the awesome resource.

We "bumped" into the "official" guy and his "guard dog" last time. He wanted to charge us €5 to walk around or €30 to take photo's! The German speakers in the group barganed him down to €7 each. We were all very skeptical as to who this guy was and just how official he is. He did eventually give us a receipt but its a bit odd. Apparently he wants to renovate the place and turn it into some kind of alternative school!? Bonkers, its cheaper to tear it down and start again, hopefully not his plan!
Follow the Irish Berliner directions, keep quiet the farther you go and you'll be fine. The dog was chubby and very old. I'm sure a wurst would make him your best friend:)

Maybe that looks familiar to you ;)

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8SV7raoFtO0

Haha! I suspected that couch and piano hadn't been left there by the Russians...

Very cool blog! I love Berlin, and I have what to explore now!

Great idea!

Jola

Hello everybody,
we have been there last week for two whole days. Please contact Mr. Hanke from Kids Globe if you want to visit the Heilstätten Grabowsee. He is maybe odd but very friendly and helpful! We were allowed to drive the car on the area. This was very helpful with our photo equipment. His phone number is: +49 175-2425275.
He works for Kids Globe...see www.kidsglobe.org
We can recommend a visit, we had lots of fun and lots of things to discover...the pictures turned out great.

Hey there Irish Berliner and other folks.
First of all I'd like to thank you for your useful guide.
So I went to Grabowsee last week with a buddy of mine. It was a complete and utter hell to get there, but after being attacked by snakes and mosquito's (true story) we eventually arrived.
My first impression was that the 3/10 difficulty level was a bit of an understatement. Personally, I'd give it a 5/10. Because it takes lots of time to get there and because of the guy with his dog, plus the fact that the fences are pretty high and covered with barbed wire.

Anyway, once we were in it was simply amazing. What I was wondering was: Did you get into the tower?
The photo you took from one of the buildings is obviously taken from a higher point, so I figured you got into the tower as well.

For the people that are going there, you can enter the tower by pushing against the fence that is blocking in really hard. Then just squeeze through.
Seems impossible, but isn't.

Cheers everybody!
Thanks again Irish Berliner

Went the other day, the guy was still there and wanted to charge 6 of us 30€ to come in, and 30€ each(!) if we wanted to take pictures.

Luckily we'd already cycled past him along the dirt track and found another way in through the back. Asking was just a formality to see how much it should have cost. It's a bit of a treck, but worth going through the forest.

This way gets you near the old storage garages, from what I could see he wasn't patrolling, although it was hard to see how many people were there. I saw 2 men and 1 woman.

He appeared dirty and slightly erratic when I spoke to him, although told me that the charge was for the upkeep of the fence and containers (apparently 8000€ a year). Also mentioned that in 2 days he was moving into the building nearest the front entrance, no idea if that was true or not.

Either way, don't let him put you off. I didn't get to go towards the main enclosure, but I did get to see some awesome graffiti around the back, and I'm sure if i wasn't such a chicken I could have seen much more.

I've just found this on a website, maybe someone who's German is better than mine can confirm...but I think it's a workcamp to help fix and secure Grabowsee...

Samstag, 16/06/2012
___________________________WORKCAMP_________________
grabowsee bei Oranienburg

WORKCAMP___________________________________________________________
RETTET GRABOWSEE

Freitag 15. Juni ab 16 Uhr bis Sonntag 17. Juni 18 Uhr.

WARUM GEHTS?:Wir organisieren ein erstes Wochenende um das Grabowsee Gelände schrittweise weiter zu entwickeln. Es werden möglichst Vielen geworben, um in eine gemeinsame Aktion möglichst viele Arbeiten erledigen zu können. Die Aufgaben sind freiwillig, jeder macht was und so lange wie er oder sie kann. Es ist keine Party, es sollen alle mitwirken und spass haben zugleich. Dazu wird natürlich abends zum Bier am Lagerfeuer geladen.

WO IHR HELFEN KÖNNT:Ziel ist es, folgende Bau- und Sicherungsmassnahmen nach diesen Tagen umgesetzt zu haben:___Roden Überwucherung des Innenhofes und Instandsetzung der Orginalzustand. ___Wiederherstellung der Wege und dessen durchfahrbarkeit. ___Sichern der äussere Umfriedung des Geländes, reparatur der Zäune. Vorgesehen ist eine natürliche Benjeshecke. Dadurch können einige Bauzäune in ihre Funktion frei werden und woanders eingesetzt werden. ___Sichern alle Öffnungen im Erdgeschoss der Denkmalgeschützten Gebäude mit einfache Mitteln. Vorgesehen ist Bewährungsstahlmatten, die mit einige Schrauben im Holzrahmen befestigt werden. Jederzeit wieder entfernbar, sichern sie das niemanden die Gebäuden betreten kann. ___Sichern der Dächern alle Gebäude, um weiteren Verfall durch Regen zu verhindern.___Sämtliche Dächern werden gesichert indem lose Dachziegel entweder entfernt oder gesichert werden. ___Aufräumen der Uferkante des Sees___so weit wie möglich Instandsetzung des Gebäudes Haus Asklepos, so dass diese statisch abgenommen werden kann und künftig genutzt werden kann. ___Sicherung der Panzerhallen ___Putz abschlagen wo gefordert, Putzen und AufräumenWO IST DAS ?Das Gelände wird auch gerne als Klein-Beelitz bezeichnet, mit dem Unterschied dass dieses Kleinod kaum jemanden bisher bekannt ist. Zwischenzeitlich von den Sowjets als Millitärhospital genutzt, wurde das Gelände 1995 verlassen und schlummert seither in einem Dornrößchenschlaf. Am See gelegen, mit eine ausgebrannte Kapelle am Ufer. Schwimmen geht, Camping auch. Ein bisschen Frühstück wird versorgt. Zu trinken gibt es gegen Einkaufspreisen. Und natürlich zeigen wir dort auch die EM Fussball.


Unter http://www.kidsglobe.org/wcms/index.php?grabowsee_0d7 findet ihr einige Fotos und eine Anfahrtsskizze. MACH MIT !Es danken unter anderem die Vereine ZMF und Kids Globe.Wenn wir schnell genug sind, ist das erste Festival am 1 September machbar !

Yes, it's the Kids Globe crowd that I wrote about in the original post. They want to turn it into a camp. Before long the place will be crawling with kids...

Seph, yes, I climbed the tower. It's great for a bird's eye view of the place.
But I didn't see any snakes!

Been there yesterday. When we got there it started to rain, but we continued visiting even so.

Finding a crack to get in is quite hard as most of them are filled with barbed wire. We found a place where the distance was just enough to fit in somewhere in the back.

There are some really good grafitis and in one of the buildings seems that there was an art showing. Each room is painted by an artist and some of them are really good. Unfortunately the tower entrance is blocked by a fence that is well secured so it is impossible to go up without heavy intervention.

On our way back there was a car parked at the main entrance and voices could be heard from the garages, so there are definately guards there and worst of all a big german sheppard was crunching a bone, but he seemed to be in an enclosed area.

Just came back from a long stay at Grabow-area last weekend.Superb! We have been there from 18:00h untill 17:00 next day. It was a full moon, just perfect! The night was cold and we kept the fire going in the front of the 'pianohouse'. We saw nobody untill the next day around noon. We ended chilling at lake by the church, wondefull!
Thanks for all the info on your website, you made some people very happy!
Keep it up!

Hey!
Unfortunately Grabowsee is one of the few spots I missed and find it hard to catch up now.

But, anyway, I'm writing a story set in Berlin and wondered whether I could see your pictures/take some for the possible book. Of course, I'd mention they're not mine.
I especially need the piano and the toy horse in Beelitz, which I didn't manage to see, unfortunately.

Hope you can help, otherwise, thanks for the good job done so far ;)

g

Just a little info. If you call them and say that you will come to take photos(just in case). They expect a "little" Donation. If u take photos you have to pay 30€. For every other action only 10€.

Thanks for the advice about the "little donation" but they've been doing that for some time now as you'll see from the earlier comments. There's even a tour group now doing tours for even more. Money money money.

I agree with you! put there a donation box,if i want to donate i can put something according to my budget. this is solidarity! and also if you believe that you try to set a nice social project there you dont need to welcome the people with dog.Publish a clear website than nice people will be around you. easy!

if i understand right,its an old hospital for tuberculoses? i dont like old hospitals!

I much prefer old abandoned hospitals to new still-in-use hospitals. You're much less likely to pick up any diseases for a start!

Hi Folks,

As an Artists and active member of Grabowsee Globe Gallery I would advise any person intending to visit the site to consider few points:
For some time a series of projects has been taking place and developed at the specific site aiming to the Visual Art scene. Authorities has granted permission to be built a growing Art Village.. There are artists and technicians working on site re-building dilapidated structures. The site has become a growing art village and projects are constantly on going
E.g. Before pay any visit to the site ask for permission as the place is going under massive transformation, there is survey-lance plus other 24/7 site security...
For more information contacting: http://globegallery.wordpress.com/

I find it hard to believe artists have the money for pay for 24/7 surveillance.
What are your plans for the site? What does it mean for Kids Globe? And who, ultimately, owns it?
Generally when a place like this is turned over to artists, it's owned by developers who subsequently kick them out once it's been made "cool" so they can make money from developing it.
You can describe it as the first symptoms of gentrification, a disease afflicting Berlin at the moment.

Hi Irish Berliner,
the best would be to visit us at Grabowsee, so we could talk about the details. I share some of your scepticism. Finally: it's not all about monney!
Bernhard Hanke
Kids Globe chairman
0175 24 25 27 5

I tried to be there today, but have you heard that George Clooney is in Berlin? He is going to shot one part of his next movie in Grabowsee !!! So it is almost impossible to get in without facing a technician setting up the set... -( Should be more quiet in Juny.

We got this from the "Hausemeister" with the dog. And the Kids Globe seemed to be kind of serious...
The place is Teufelsberg n°2 now =[

Thanks for the comment. I'm going to work on a follow up post as soon as I get the time.

Was there yesterday and although there were a few people around, inc a car car, no one asked for any money.. not sure but seems the security guy and his dog take Sundays off ;) Got some great fotos and was really cool having a look around. Had a bit of trouble finding the place which turned out well as we found this place quite close. Basically, its the old SS bakery for the Sachsenhausen concentration camp... located here: http://tinyurl.com/m9ajlwj
Link to some info on it: http://tinyurl.com/lluo2hh and http://tinyurl.com/n6ggah
Easy to get in and have a look around... kinda disappointed I didn't go upstairs as the girlfriend wanted out. She's German and was having trouble with the whole 'rules' thing.
Cheers for the info on this place... shall be checking out some of the other sites soon, starting with Spreepark later today :)

Haha! Germans and their rules eh? ;) You'd think they'd get a bigger kick out of breaking them but no...
Thanks for the bread factory tip! I was unaware of it - had just continued up the canal to Grabowsee on my last visit.
Happy to hear to hear the dog gets Sundays off. German dogs are very particular about their Sundays.
Best of luck in the other places!

Anyone going one of the next days?
i was waiting for the sun, probably tomorrow or wednesday by train and then bike.
I m a photographer, so i don't mind paying a little fee to stay there (as well in other derelict places around berlin) and take my pictures without anxious feelings.
Let me know!

Anyone who was there the last days?
I would like to go in about a week.
Is it still possible to climb in there?

Hi there! I was there, alone, at the beginning of June. I had to slide under the steel fence in a point where to the ground was a bit lower since I didn't find any point where to jump inside and the gates are very well secured with barded wire. The visit was great and I took very nice pics without anyone who bothered me. No security or dogs were aound, maybe because there was a storm during the day, which made the athmosphere even more gotic.. I was a bit stressed in some moments, but I liked this sensation while I took pics. Everything is destroyed apart the piano and the sofa, but I think it is again worth for a visit. I could walk in all the buidings with out particular dangers. As alone I didn't go in the cellars so I don't know theri conditions. Very strange, in the afteroon I stumbled upon a professional photographer with two models (they had parked inside since I saw their car, so for sure they were authorized) but they were very fliendly and wished me to take great pics :)! Next I went to the SS bakery, see my post there.
Thanks again to Irish Berliner for his work for this site, it is not the first time I follow your instructions and every time I have a great exploaration!

We were there today and with asking the current owner if we can get in it wasn't possible. He and his co worker were very friendly, but we had to pay him 10€ (without doing pictures) or 30€ each with taking pictures. We decided to pay 10€ each and for sure took pictures.

Most of the buildungs are cleaned really good as there happened some kind of arty farty stuff in many rooms. We think Kids Globe won't be realised soon, so its still ok to go there and visit. Maybe you are lucky and the owner isn't there then. There are still some parts where you can hop the fence but be careful.

He's not the owner. :) Kudos for the sneaky pictures.

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