Berlin’s Lost Places: Elizabeth Sanatorium (Stahnsdorf)

The day was planned in a very different manner. The intention was to have a long and leisurely Sunday brunch, followed by some writing time, and then off to the fields for strawberry picking. Well, hells bells, the clouds suddenly became incontinent and the pouring rain ruined our plans. As an old acquaintance once said, there is no such thing as bad weather, just the wrong clothes. So off we went in pursuit of more Lost Places and headed toward Stahnsdorf to explore the abandoned Elizabeth Sanatorium. It was an absolutely gorgeous drive out there, and if it weren’t for GPS and Google Maps we would not have found it.

No Entry ©MTHerzog

Little did we know it would the first of many fences that we had to deal with. We found the Sanatorium eventually, but the barbed wire on the fence was not exactly the welcome reception I was expecting. It wasn’t any ordinary barbed wire, but the NATO razor wire, which was recently deemed controversial in Austria for being marketed as “anti-migrant, animals and burglars” (yes, all in one sentence).

From a distance… ©MTHerzog

The watchman on duty at the gate is unfriendly but polite. He absolutely forbade any entrance, informed us that there were no tours available and never will be. So that was that. Try as I might, there was no way to enter that compound because the razor wire will tear your clothes and flesh open in an instant. This is one item on the Lost Places Berlin that should really be taken off the list because it really impossible to enter.

What hides behind the shutters? ©MTHerzog 

Nevertheless, stubborn that I am, there was no way I was going to leave empty-handed. So from the other side of the highway, standing in the drizzling rain, I changed lenses and zoomed in. Built by Walther Freimuth in 1912 for this wife Elizabeth, the sanatorium was dedicated to the treatment of tuberculosis. After WWII, Sanatorium E, as it was called, became the leading center for skin and lymph tuberculosis. The facility was completely abandoned in 1994 when the entire operation was moved to Potsdam.

Cough cough, anyone home? ©MTHerzog

Ownership has reverted back to the Freimuth heirs, but the plans keep changing for this historically protected building. From here we attempted to explore the abandoned Kramnitz military Baracks, but ran into the same problem of barbed wire, high fences and stern warnings. The vegetation is so dense here that it is frustrating just to look at. Even if you shoot from the road you can’t get a decent shot. I wouldn’t have minded climbing a tree or two, but it was raining, I was in shorts (hey, I hadn’t planned on the barbed wire and trees) and somehow getting arrested on a Sunday afternoon didn’t seem worth the effort. By this time I was beginning to dislike the word Verboten (forbidden) more an more.

And we didn’t find any strawberries.


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