Zombie insanatorium: Waldhaus Buch

Filed 7/3/2014 | Updated 8/3/2014
Funny how the nurse becomes the patient. Now it’s Waldhaus Buch that needs care, and quick! Abandoned in 1992, the former tuberculosis sanatorium has since become a haven for zombies, lured by the huge welcoming sign on the front porch. ZOMBIES it says, in letters bigger than mortals.

And so they arrive in numbers not countable in numbers, waves of brain-thirsty non-beings intent on they know not what – for zombies are brainless after all. They get to the front porch and circle around, perplexed in mindless stupidity. They circle for days and days and nights on end. It drives them insane and they don’t know why. It’s the zombie insanatorium.
This place has had an association with brains long before the zombies arrived, unfortunately. You’ll see what I mean…
But we’ll start at the beginning, when Berlin was finding its feet as the capital of the newly formed German Empire, expanding at a ferocious rate while diseases like tuberculosis and typhoid were doing their best to keep pace.
Buch, an idyllic little village out in the country with its unpolluted air, clear waters and abundant trees, was seen as a haven at a time when sanatoriums were springing up like mushrooms wherever mushrooms sprang up – away from the pollution of the city.
You already had the likes of Beelitz and Grabowsee to name but a couple, and Buch was soon playing its part, with a huge hospital complex said to be Europe’s biggest between 1900 and 1930. That’s bullshit of course, since Waldhaus Buch, the first hospital built, wasn’t finished until 1903. But property developers will say anything to sell their precious apartments.
At the time it was called the “Heimstätte für männliche Brustkranke” (Homestead for male chest illnesses). Planning started in 1899 and construction began two years later. It was built to a baroque style in a T-shape with three wings.
The impressive hallway is modeled on the courtyard of an Italian Renaissance palace, with its vaulted ceiling, balustrades and columns, along with sculptures and floral motives along the balustrades. Very pretty.
The first of 150 patients with TB arrived in late summer 1905, apparently. (I wasn’t around at the time myself, so I’m relying on other sources for this information.) And it wasn’t until July 21, 1927 that it became officially known as Waldhaus Buch. By now it may well have been part of Europe’s biggest hospital complex.
Waldhaus Buch continued as a sanitarium for TB patients until the war, before becoming a military hospital for the Luftwaffe in 1942.
It seems that the original patients fell victim to the Nazis’ “euthanasia program,” which began by killing children.
On March 28 and 30, 1940, the first physically and mentally ill patients from Buch were transported to the “euthanasia centers” of Bernburg und Brandenburg. One of the Buch clinics had to close seven months later due to a lack of patients.
Patients from other clinics around the country were ferried through Buch to be murdered too.
Another wave of killings under the “Aktion Brandt” scheme from 1943 just cleared patients to make way for wounded soldiers. Why have sick and useless people taking up valuable beds when fighting men could be repaired to carry on fighting?
Altogether, around 200,000 people were “euthanized” or removed from life under these schemes. The Nazis were a practical if murderous bunch and they saw the advantages in mass murder…
Some of their victims’ brains found their way back to Buch for research.
Apparently 698 murdered patients’ brains were delivered to the Buch-based Kaiser Wilhelm Institute for Brain Research (Institut für Hirnforschung), where Julius Hallervorden carried out his work. That fucker even witnessed children being exterminated at the Brandenburg killing center on Oct. 28, 1940 to become his “donors,” according to Wikipedia.
Hallervorden continued as head honcho of the Max Planck Institute for Brain Research, (as it was renamed in the meantime) in Gießen after the war and was even awarded the Federal Cross of Merit in 1956. I mean, what the fuck? He consumed more brains than your average zombie does in a lifetime. He lived to the ripe old age of 82.
“Even after 1945 Hallervorden never saw his actions as wrong,” the Süddeutsche Zeitung wrote in 2007. “In a letter to the president of the international court of justice in Nuremberg dated Feb. 11, 1946, he wrote: ‘I never had the least to do with the process of euthanasia. I’ve consistently condemned it and would have resigned if I were still a psychiatrist at the time. At least I didn’t think I was morally in a worse position than an anatomist who seeks the body of an executed person because he needs the freshest possible test material.’”
Waldhaus Buch, meanwhile, became an orthopedic hospital after the war and was integrated with the other four hospital complexes to form the Berlin-Buch Municipal Hospital in 1963. The whole thing had around 3,700 beds, again making it one of the largest health care facilities in Europe.
The fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989 seems to have spelled the end, as it did for pretty much anything East German.
Buch had 40 clinics, 4,200 staff and up to 4,000 patients at that time, but a period of downsizing and closures followed and it was only downhill from there.
The Waldhaus closed in 1992 and has been empty ever since. The rest shut down in the meantime, most have already been converted into fancy apartments. More than 500 are planned altogether.
The state-owned Liegenschaftsfonds Berlin has the Waldhaus earmarked for a “Researchers’ Castle” apparently, as an educational site for life sciences with an exhibition and information center to be known far and wide for its innovation. It sounds very highfalutin but good luck to them.
Food for thought. Research. Brains. Zombies. Somehow it all fits.

What
Waldhaus Buch, former tuberculosis sanatorium, military hospital during the war, and then orthopedic hospital. It was just one clinic/hospital in a complex said at times to be Europe’s biggest. Caters only to zombies nowadays, or not as the case may be, depending on your definition of “zombie catering.”

Where
Alt-Buch 74, 13125 Berlin, Germany

How to get there
Get the S2 S-Bahn from Friedrichstraße or Bornholmer Straße to Buch, turn right out of the station, walk along Wiltbergstraße and take your first left onto Alt-Buch. Walk along until you hit Waldhaus Buch on your left. It will be the huge abandoned-looking building hiding behind trees, preceded by a fine house, which appears to be occupied by humans, and another ruin, which is not.
You could also cut through the woods upon leaving the S-Bahnhof and get hopelessly lost like I did, before emerging, cursing, on a street miles away and starting again. I make it sound worse than it is – you often stumble upon other hidden treasures when you’re looking for your initial target.
Here’s a map so you don’t get lost, or so you can plan getting lost. You’re not lost if your plan on getting lost goes exactly to plan though.
 
Getting in
Walk up past the “Am Stener Berg” bus stop and you’ll find a little overgrown laneway on your left. The fence is not worthy of the title ‘fence’ and easily overcome.
Now, I’m not sure I can recommend getting into the Waldhaus Buch, simply because it was the hardest place I* ever managed to get into and I only barely made it back out again. All the windows are sealed with those metal shields they use when they’re determined no one should get in any more. I managed to squeeze in through a gap above two of the shields covering a doorway at the back, just big enough for my ribcage and spine to jam through. Fuck it was hard! And my ribs let me know for days afterward.
Getting out was ten times harder because of the unfavorable angles involved with bars blocking the way inside. If you do decide to try this method, let someone know you’re going so they can ring emergency services to get you out again.
 
When to go
Go during the day so you can see the place. Nighttime is not an option, especially if you’re determined to get inside. You won’t be able to fit your beer through the gap for a start.

Difficulty rating
9/10. The only reason I’m not saying 10/10 is because I* managed to get in. So it’s not impossible. 

Who to bring
Someone skinny. Or a mouse with a miniature camera. Better still, a mouse who’s handy with bolts and spanners who can remove one of the metal shields to let you in.

What to bring
Camera, torch, sandwiches, refreshments – preferably alcoholic refreshments – and the aforementioned mouse.

Dangers
The building’s in pretty good condition, presumably because so much effort has been made to preserve it and stop people getting in. (You can tell there’s money to be made.) So no need to worry unduly about ceilings falling on your head.
Watch out for security though. I* went there twice in the space of a week and noticed several fresh tire marks on the second occasion. It looks like someone is doing the rounds from time to time, but they’re obviously too lazy to get off their fat arses and get out of the car. Still, listen out for approaching vehicles and security goons. Someone still cares for the place.
And zombies of course. Watch out for the zombies.

*Customary disclaimer. I is not me, nor anyone that can be held responsible for the words preceding this disclaimer.

Photo freaks can check out more wonderful pictures if they’re so inclined here: http://www.flickr.com/photos/abandonedberlin/sets/72157642018145713/
Many thanks once again to Mark Rodden for his copy editing skills and suggestions.
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17 comments

This place looks great, would like to see it myself.. But I guess I wouldn't fit through the mentioned space ;) So I keep looking at your photos.. :)

Hi,
First of all, I must say some words about the way you publish those sensetive locations... we were in there some years ago... a few times and it is hard to see those fu**in new graffitis and distortion ever since. We are proudly save the real names of those places and other do so too cause it is a kind of codex you have, a kind of responsibility... Why do you name the places, even with the full adresses? And also about how to get in..? There is really no need for that, if you like to share with someone trustable, you can do so but we all know about those sprayers who are searching for just those buildings where they can "train" themselves without thinking and respecting the precious architecture or the heavy history behind it... please think about deleting the details and maps for your locations, it is really enough to share your photos, don't you think? What is your personal advantage of this?

We love this location very much and we always try to avoid all those vandalists there, of course also on all other abandoned places... we do not need an urbex tourism!

Greets from Berlin

H.

Well thats the end of that every vandal in town will be there and won't be long before nothing is left, true urban explorers don't give out where and how to get in, great job well done…

Thanks for your comment. I've given my reasons often enough before. I'm not going to keep writing the same stuff. Have a look at the "about" page if you want to know more.
As an aside, you say you were here a few years ago and that it's hard for you to see the graffiti and damage done in the meantime. You've just showed the vandals will do their business regardless of whether locations are published or not - they didn't wait for me to publish the location.
My reasoning is that other people should enjoy these places before it's too late, but I've written all this before...

Thanks Hannes. Thankfully there are other places to visit too! :)

I have been there yesterday with a friend. Great place, I loved the top floor / attic and also the huge underground. Some tunnels led us 200/300m away from the house, we heard the cars above us - that was awesome.

The skyscraper ruin right next to it is nice as well. It is possible to get on the roof, so we enjoyed the sun quite a bit.

Thanks a lot for this one.

Hey, just went there today with one friend. With much effort (and with the help of a native who was having some good time around with his girlfriend), we finally managed to open a door at the back of the building. So now it's a 2/10 and it's really worth it.

Thanks a lot for your blog.

Today I went there with a friend. The place is a fortress now: every door and window is sealed. I read that there's a door on the back. Bad luck for us there were people cutting the trees all around the place so we couldn't explore and in the end we went away because it was clear that they didn't appreciate us being around. Next time! Peace. Guido

We tried today, but it was the same result: everything was sealed. Some new bars on some windows and one
door. We have to have an eye on it, perhaps someone has the power to open again one door. the new building
behind is accessible...there is an open door. better to have a torch because there are holes in the floor at the
entrance...you can see some nice graffitis and the damages are bearable....no zombies in this building!!

Alright man! I managed to squeeze though the crack and unbolt the door and losin' up a window at the back (Oba is sprayed on it) So unless there quick at fixing it, it now has a rating of about 1/10 because u can just move the door and walk on in (put please put it back so it looks good) I don't know if everyone should know this or not? so if not just take this comment down, Otherwise Enjoy!

Also don't squeeze through the tiny broken window at the back (even if u fit) u only end up in a elevator shaft u cant get out off, but once ur inside u can see into it.
did u see the attic?

There's now a possibility to get in easily. One of the metal plate on a door has been removed. You can see it on the right side on the back. I wouldn't recommend to go to the basement without proper equipment, a strong smell of something is emaning from there. Really beautiful place tho.
It is also possible to get in the new building, right behind Waldhaus buch. It's an interesting place too. You can maybe find child's drawings in some rooms, a picture of a woman on the wall and some interesting things on the floor. And it's really beautiful when you get on the roof to look at the sun going down.
Just follow the abandonned skis to get in and you'll see an open door to the basement. Just go to the left once you're in.

Thanks for sharing, it was really interesting to go there.

Hey, we went there today and there is no way to get in to the two main buildings. All sealed with steel plates. Maybe if you got an Skeleton key you're able to open the door on the back. The two rear buildings are open but very destroyed. Beware of the security guard who makes his rounds there.

Been there last weekend ( 1 Juni 2014). There is 1 steel plate thats gone so you can enter the old building. Very interesting espesially the basement.

we have been there 2 weeks ago (6. Juni 14). we opend one of the panels at the backside of the main building using a prybar and forceps.
(Its the light-grey one next to the basement entry). I dont know how fast they are fixing it, but if your lucky you might still get an easy access.
We made a shooting there and had quite an amount of equipment with us so we needed a bigger entry. There was a second group of people that found there way in through a window in the basement. unfortunately i cant tell where this one is...

Went there last week just to find that it was all sealed up, found one plate that looked very new so i guess i was a week or so too late. Very sad, the building looked amazing.

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