Teufelsberg update: The devil in the mountain's details

Filed 17/11/2012 | Updated 8/9/2015 (Scroll to the bottom for the latest)
I’m not sure the owner of Teufelsberg would approve if he knew exactly what was going on there. But he’s got bigger fish to fry and so he’s entrusted its care to a third party which, he says, has a “freie Hand” to run tours.
The third party is Berlin Sight Out, which advertises its weekend tours, but keeps its “unofficial” weekday tours on the quiet, particularly after all the unwanted attention it received after thousands turned up for a mega party in August.
Hartmut Gruhl, the Cologne-based architect whose company owns Teufelsberg, was surprised when I told him two guys posing as security demanded money for me to go visit the site.
“They’re lying then,” he said. But perhaps they weren’t.
It turns out that the two goons who threatened me on Wednesday work for Berlin Sight Out. They just lacked the wherewithal to tell me at the time.
Shalmon Abraham leases the site from Gruhl on behalf of Berlin Sight Out, and he was even able to describe one of the goons, the less-threatening one, who happened to be a friend of his, Ahmed.
“He’s very sweet. He’s certainly no squatter!” he laughed.
I asked him if there was anyone living on the site. He categorically denied it.
“There are only temporary places,” he said. “The squatters moved out last year.”
Gruhl and his business partner, Hanfried Schütte, bought Teufelsberg as an investment for 5.2 million Deutschmark in 1996. But their plans to build apartments, restaurants, a five-star hotel and spy-museum have stalled since for one reason or another.
He appears to have washed his hands of the whole thing while its long-term future remains uncertain.
“I can’t tell you anything about the security or tours at Teufelsberg. That’s all in the hands of a Berliner. He looks after security and has a free hand to do what he wants with tours and that,” he said, before giving me Abraham’s details.
Yet Gruhl was surprised when I told him security guys were demanding money to go look at the ruins.
“That can’t be happening, they’re gone now,” he said, referring to eMGe, the previous security company.
I guess the only reason there’s security at all, seeing as the place is trashed to shit, is for insurance purposes, to prevent Gruhl and Schütte from liability if anyone was killed or maimed there.
Berlin Sight Out venture makes sure no one wanders around. Visitors have to be accompanied by a guide, or – to put it another way – they have to pay.
I’m not sure if Gruhl and Schütte are liable if the security guys killed or maimed someone.
“We take care of security,” Abraham said. “We can’t have people simply running around. It could lead to problems.”
He pointed out that tours are “much safer” and that “it’s illegal to come through the fence.”
It’s fucking hard too, making it more likely people will cough up the €15 to take part in one of the two-hour tours at weekends.
“During the week we make sure it’s closed,” Abraham said.
Artists are allowed onsite, however, as are people who pay €7 for a “kurze Führung” if at least ten people show up at the gate. The short tours are one hour long, with less information than a proper tour.
Abraham didn’t want them publicized, however. “We don’t advertise them.”
I guess this is why his friend had been demanding money, despite the fact I wasn’t accompanied by nine others and despite not mentioning any tour. The word he used, in fact, was “Eintritt” (admission), which leads me to believe I wasn’t being offered a tour.
Abraham dismissed the notion that any security guards could possibly be pocketing any money for themselves. “Definitely not!”
He said there used to be signs informing visitors of the tours “but these were destroyed. We’ll have to make a new sign so people are more aware.”
I’m not the first to run into problems but Abraham didn’t apologize for his employees who – if we’re being pedantic – assaulted me.
“Security people by their nature are quite often aggressive,” he laughed. “This happens every day ... sometimes it escalates.”
He was much friendlier than his employees, however, evidently keen to avoid further scrutiny after thousands showed up for the party on Aug. 4, when he “underestimated the power of the internet.”
“I’d never seen such a long queue before,” he said, admitting and it led to “a bit of stress” from the authorities.
But he’s within his rights to charge money for bringing visitors around Teufelsberg. The fortified and oft-repaired fence discourages people from conducting their own unaccompanied, impromptu tours. The security too, of course.
The situation might not change for some time, with Teufelsberg’s future still uncertain.
“We don’t know what’s going to happen,” Gruhl said. “Herr Schütte is involved in negotiations with the senate and the district.”
This is Berlin so I think it’s safe to say all boils down to money - for everyone involved.

So there you have it folks. I’m not sure it’s a satisfactory outcome, but we know a bit more than we did before. I’m sure there’ll be more updates to come. 

UPDATE: September 8, 2015 – Shalmon Abraham’s rental agreement with Teufelsberg owners Hartmut Gruhl and Hanfried Schütte has been scrapped. A bailiff arrived last Tuesday, Sept. 1, to announce the eviction after a dispute over the rent.
Abraham had been charging admission to the site but the owners weren’t getting the benefit, apparently. Hanfried Schütte said he was only interested in money, Der Tagesspiegel reported.
“Money was taken in but no rent was paid,” Marvin Schütte, Hanfried’s son, told Morgenpost. It’s possible that the Schüttes saw how much he was making and decided they could do it better for themselves.
Marvin is the new “Pächter” (tenant) and he too has big plans for the site, including the opening of a café, beer garden and art gallery. He won’t be able to build much more as the area is protected as a forested area.
He told Abandoned Berlin today (though he didn’t know he was talking to AB) that there will be even more street artists working on the site than before, and that their work will be more varied, using all sorts of materials. Teufelsberg’s art attacks are set to continue.
More importantly, he let AB and AB’s young sidekick in for a look for €7. Tours are still ongoing and will continue, despite the change in tenancy, but we got in after the last one and were left to our own devices as we poked around.
You can’t go right up to the very top anymore – it’s blocked off, presumably for security or safety reasons – but Teufelsberg’s still very much worth a visit. Especially now the goons are gone.
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39 comments

It came to me as a big surprise that this is happening at teufesberg. In July 2012 I went there with my girlfriend and we could easily get into the fence and no one asked us anything.

We went for a tour around the whole place and even get up until the top of the tower, along the way we met several people like us on a very laid back atmosphere, so it came as a surprise this lattest happenings, I hope those abandoned places are free (within our own risks) to enter because we had a awesome time over there.

Thanks for the nice post anyways.

Cheers from Brasil.

Thank you so much for this blog. Went to Spreepark last week (though only found your blog last weekend) and can report that it's still okay to go :) We went at like 5/6 in the morning on a weekday and there was no one there. Had a great time. Looking forward to exploring the other places.

Glad to hear it! Early morning is always best, but for a night owl like me these early-morning plans never come to fruition. It always sounds great and fine when I'm awake, but until then my body refuses to cooperate. Have fun!

Hello, Hallo!

So. I ventured out to Teufelsberg today. Just thought I'd update you on my experiences there as it might prove of some help to potential abandoned Berlin goers :)

I arrived at the top of the hill at 11am this morning (Sunday) with two other adventure buddies. We thought this might be a sneaky time to go... But we weren’t right at all…

There were a few people with dogs, mainly families etc, just one other group of youngsters looking to break in, like us. We walked the entire perimeter of the fence, which actually consists of three fences which run parallel to each other. All are made of barbed wire and metal fencing. The second and third fence appear to have many places in which one can easily get through. However… We spent a good hour looking for a crevice for the first fence, just to break the bloody thing open! But every possible nook, cranny or bird hole had been WELL covered up by yet more metal fencing and prickly barbed wire. Seriously, not one little hole was there at all big enough for anything bigger than an agile rat to get through. After doing a whole loop, we arrived back at the main gate into Teufelsberg (which probably looks like the easiest place to hoist someone over - that is if no-one else is around). Unfortunately, much to our dismay, there were people around…

These 'people' were parked in some shitty looking boyracer car- two young fellas in their early 20s. My German freund got talking to them- and they said they worked there. Their job was to guard the gate from their car. They smoked cigarettes and played on their iphones, like all nice mobsters do. They told us they worked for their ‘boss’ who ‘leased the place from the government’. Therefore, they were running tours- not sure whom through or how- and this was the only way to get in. ‘’The next tour is at 1pm’’, the greasy haired young one said. A mere 8 to 15 Euros per head.

Fuck. That.

So I don’t know who these fellows are, OR if they are ACTUALLY legit.
My advice to you guys wanting to venture out there, go early morning, probably during a week day, with some serious, serious metal pliers. That’s the only way you’ll get in, that is if you don’t want to pay the crims making some dosh off the historical monument that should be protected and available to the public to see, not ‘governed’ by some mob of young boys in untasteful vehicles.

Good luck to you all.

-Chloe

Hey Chloe!
Did you read the previous two posts about this?! Sounds like you had the same experience I had, only then I got in touch with the owner and the guy who has a lease to run tours and I came up with the post above which explains everything. Happy reading!

Unless you're happy to fork money out, that's how it looks for now. But things have a habit of changing quickly in Berlin!

Thanks so much for confronting them for those of us who can't & putting the truth out there, the bastards need to go... lets send some bears up there to take care of them!

Hey, is there a way of getting into contact with the owner ?

Yes, that's how I got in contact with him, but I'm not going to publish his contact details here.

I'm a film maker and would love to talk to him about filming there. I can understand if you dont want to post here. my email is maxhink@gmail.com would really appreciate any help you can give me, cheers bud

Hello Irishman, great stuff you discover! I am working in the editoriaö team of an up and coming SCIENCE format fot the Austrian TVstation ServusTV. YES, it's a bout Science, about discovering things, making them your own, digging in history etc. besides covering rocket science. We plan to make a 15 minute episode in Berlin in the middle/at the end of april. It would be easy/cheesy to just follow your descriptions - we rather 'conquer' the 'other' Berlin with your guidance. We would appreciate an answer today friday to make first decisions. Cheers mate! > Gerald.benesch@cosmosfactory.at THX!

thanks for your posts irish..i've made the same experience in the summer of 2012. two primates guarding the gate, beeing dicks, demanding money and giving no information whatsoever. obviosly these guys have the right to shield that sight but still..interesting to hear that the security company was given "freie hand" by the investor. just fishing in the dark here but the first idea that came to my head was: tax evasion. my impression was they would try anything from hindering you from entering the sight but would give in if i would've actually called the police. anyways.. the way those two low lifes run the place is shady and legal trouble with the authorities seems to be their cryptonite. anyone who went up there in 2013 and can report back around here? curious what the current situation is at the moment.

post scriptum: i don't mind payin an (accepatble) entrance fee for it is a really cool place but it simply pisses me off having to deal with some mobsters because i`m simply exploring the city i live in

Last week it took place a kind a "rave" inside...
... but you had to pay 7€ Eintritt. They offered us this "Kurz Führung" as well.
There was also some guys guarding all along the enclousure and repearing any kind of little whole in the fance.
We are intrigued with this situation as well...
Thanks for the posts!!
Salut!!

Some days ago we went with some friends to Teufelsberg. We didn't actually know there was a tour going on. So we went through a hole just because we dind't want to walk until the main entrance. We spended almost 2 hours there. As we were leaving one young german guy "found us" and told us it was forbidden to be there. He was really nice telling us he hated his job. We really understood and were actually willing to make the tour some other day because the place was quite interesting. So we were going out to the main entrance and as we got there they dind't let us out. The "nice german guy" told us they had called the police and that we will have to pay 100 euros for this, and that there were going to be consecuences. We really thought it was a joke or something. The security guy was standing on the door, screaming that the police was coming and acting really aggresive. We were asking them what was going on, that they couldn't keep us trapped there, he started shouting that we shouldn't make him act more aggresive. We were really scared, also because there was no explanations, no one who look normal and quiet to talk to. So we decided to go back to where we came in to go out, because nothing of that made sense to us. As we were WALKING back, the security guy chased us and told again that we shoulnd't make him aggresive. So we decided to stay there and wait. We told them that we wanted to stay there and wait for the police but they wanteed for us to go to the main entrance, which was just ten meters away. So he started pushing us, WOMEN, he pushed us until the main entrance while SINGING. They started to asked us where we were from, while another guy that was there told something like "dont ask that, they dont understand they are sutpid" words like AUSLANDER, Arschloch, came from their mouth. They were not only insulting us, they were humilliating us. And the worse thing is that he stoped pushing me when he saw the police was coming. As we saw the police we coulnd't be happier. We wanted to charge them, but it seemed you have to have bruises to do that. We know we dind't do good to enter in that way, but the way they treated us representing their enterprise was worse and unhuman. We wanted to know if there is other people with the same experience as us.

Thanks for sharing your story. Very sorry to hear about your bad experience. These people are thugs.

That is really outrageous. I had a somewhat similar experience which I describe here: http://katekatharina.com/2013/04/28/the-devil-you-dont-know/

Let us hope the entire plan for commercial use collapses like the rest did. I heard rumours about it but at least I don't have to bother any longer to check if the stuff people say are true. Been there twice like most people from Berlin - it is a shame that some people try to take that from us.

We went there yesterday (15th August 2013) and were confronted by intimidating "guides/security"......I'm being kind here.......really legitimate thugs!!! We were relieved of 7 euros each and taken on the "silent" tour, constantly being told to move on and hurry up.
One thing I would point out though, to prospective adventurers who want to get in "unofficially". The "security" have errected steel gates at the entrances to all the interesting parts of the buildings which are presumably secured when the thugs aren't there. So any "unauthorised" or out of hours exploration could prove disappointing.
Watch out particularly for the very unpleasant female "guide".

Hey, I also need a contact to the owner (I hope you mean Gruhl), because as a last season worker there, I have a problem with getting my payment back from Shalmon Abraham, and I want to talk with the owner first before I'll go to the Amt furn Arbeitshutz. Maybe it'll help maybe not.

you can send it to alittleflame@gmail.com, thanks a lot for your help!

To be honest I don't think Gruhl is going want to get involved. He just leases the site, collects his rent money from Shalmon Abraham, and doesn't care about the rest. The only thing that will get him moving on anything is if the city suddenly gives him planning permission for a load of apartments.
I'd go straight to the Amt if I were you. Or try contacting Abraham directly. His mobile number is 0163-8585096 according to his website.
Best of luck!

Thanks for help, anyway I'm going to contact Gruhl about Shalmon, his behavior was just not acceptable on our phone call, yelling at me and telling me to stop annoy him (WHAT? I just want my money back), continuing to tell me that he's going to pay me when he'll have cash (again... WHEN?)

Problem is that we were about to make a contract, and the time passed, Shalmon din;t make anything with contract case and then season ended and he told me to go back, pay'd me part of the money and told that the rest he's going to send

Looking to shoot film here between 10th - 18th of December — ~ Ideally would like to avoid conflict, should have researched this earlier but 'glad' to know of this in advance ~ — would it be possible to email me the contact details of somebody to arrange a visit with?
txroyale [at] gmail [dot] com
Thank you ~

Hi Denis
I went to Teuflesburg on the 12/12/13 with a friend on our first urban exploration. This was a very risky trip despite using sat nav to find the place. We started off on the woodland paths, up the hill on the tarmac, and then left the path up to the high metal fences. There were small rectangular hand painted signs that said entrance that way on the fence and at the entrance there was a sign which said trespassing was forbidden. We heard music coming from a caravan and met this guy in 20's in a baseball cap. We asked if they spoke English .He did and said it cost 7 euros per person to get in and asked if we wanted to go around the site alone. I thought we were bribing security which I was ok with as we are new to all of this but there was a big risk. As none of this seemed legit (no friendly signs, no name of a tour company etc.) and felt they could just beat us up if they felt like it. So we paid and the following 2 people paid. Confusingly the guy lead us into the building and once we went down a corridor we were passed onto a 6 ft guy in a long black coat with a Bandana. So this was scary and uncertain.
We went further into this one building with this guy and couple (not alone). The guy shone his torch on the stairs for us and gave us plenty of time to take photos. As we went up the building we spoke with him in English and based on my coat he suggested we should try k-17 ( a club, place where you would expect a goth coat), found out his name(Duncan) and he asked me to add him on facebook.
On the roof he answered my question about the QR code picture on the roof of the next building and he talked about comedy because of my humour. I also spoke to the woman from the other visiting couple. When we reached the top of the tower we talked about music and he told us about the 2 figures with the rope tying their fingers and how he thought it was the connection between life and death. He also told us he was poet and into music. . But he was only forthcoming with this info when we talked with him- (no intro at the start to suggest this was a legit tour).
Although he acted like a guide on the bottom floor; explaining the pictures stuck up there (Which I thought were hastily put up diagrams and photos for tourists) and gave info on the prison area ( without locking us in) and the boiler suits worn by people who had to fix the tower.
There were other buildings I wanted to look around but didn’t want to push my luck. After that he led us near the exit and he wrote his name down for the other people to add him on fb. He did say they had run this tour for 2 years. But this did not feel like a legit tour.

after reading your article i'm kinda confused. we're coming to berlin in march and wanted to see all the famous urbex spots, which teufelsberg surely is. we'll be there from 12 to 14th of march, is it possible to get there? or only on weekend?

greetings from Poland

Maybe I need to rewrite this post. In fairness, it's a bit all over the place.
But I did write that you'll be charged €7 (if caught) entrance during the week, and €15 for a more "official" tour at weekends. Prices may have gone up since, but the helpful "guides" will tell you if it has.

only in german.. but giving the whole thing a frame in my eyes (latest in times of google translate):
http://berliner-teufelsberg.com/web/fuhrungen-und-preise/

If anyone want´s to visit us on Teufelsberg legally, you are welcome!
More Info and contact: http://www.berliner-teufelsberg.com/web/

these go2know guys now wanna have 30 euros for a three hrs what they call fotowalk... :(((((((((

Yeah! That's ridiculous, isn't it? And it looks as if they run short of new lost places they can seize and squeeze lots of lovely money from clueless tourists. Jugendhochschule Bogensee is no longer listed among their tours, that Köpenick prison is just a little something which also can be visited for free. And Beelitz, their best cah cow in barn, will be stopped end of this year. Unless I am very much mistaken their buisness gos downhill - hopefully...

DANGER: my friends climbed the fence and got attacked by security dogs. security didn't even apologize, but they did drive us to the hospital. pretty nasty bites too. I posted on the other page about Teufelsberg too.

DANGER: my friends climbed the fence and got attacked by security dogs. security didn't even apologize, but they did drive us to the hospital. pretty nasty bites too. I posted on the other page about Teufelsberg too.

I've sent an email (tours@berliner-teufelsberg.com) about a week or two ago, and no-one ever bothered to answer

Thats the right attitude: You enter a premise illegally and want an apology when guard dogs attack you...love the hypocrisy...

Dear Anonymous 22.07.2015: I hope that you will get attacked by dogs the next time you do something illegal. But I'm sure you never do anything illegal and never are hypocrite yourself, so no worry!

Hello!

Having recently visited Teufelsberg, I accidentally came across your blog (which I’m very grateful for!) and have just spent the past few hours reading through it and reproaching myself for having missed all these wonders during my recent architecture-hunt trip to Berlin.. I was also very pleased to read your article about the Buzludzha monument, being a Bulgarian myself I’ve never had a chance to visit it - now it’s definitely on top of my ‘Must See' list :)

From an architect’s perspective, I am very curious to hear your opinion on the following matter - what is the ideal “faith" for any of these abandoned monuments/remnants of the past? Should they be left in peace to rotten with dignity, or perhaps what is worse, overtaken by developers, converetd into the next cafe/art gallery/supermarket/the next tourist attraction, etc? Or may be you see an alternative for their role in the contemporary city? Just wondering...

Keep up the great work!

I accsidently found this place at my last trip to berlin. It was december 2015, i was with my boyfreind and we climbed a hill in the forest and saw these weird buildings and lots of graffiti. The time was sundown and we coulden't see very well, we thought about walking around and cheking this place, and suddenly heard a loud angry scream from the distence. We heard angry voices arguing, it sounded like they're getting closer but we coulden't see them because of the dark. My boyfreind said they're probably just some crazy junkies and we have nothing to fear, "Or maybe this is exactly why we should fear..." I freaked out and we escaped to the S Bahn station.
Later we found out this site and read all the horror stories of these who succeded at getting in, and i glad we didn't.

Was there with friends in June 2016. A bunch of local artist were there hanging around. The man at the gate tried charging us $7 a person but we bartered down to $3 per person. Well worth. A bunch of other people there, there was no hostility and the artist were quite friendly, we helped them unload some plywood and they offered us a beer. Hung out for a few hours, explored some of the closed off areas but be careful and walk slowly.

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