Well now, it would truly be a sin to visit Germany without exploring at least one decaying building! So a couple of us hopped onto a train from Berlin into the small town of Beelitz in the Brandenburg countryside to find this gigantic hospital complex with an incredible history. Built by architect Heino Schmieden starting in 1898, it was originally a sanatorium for workers from Berlin, but was taken over by the Imperial Army during the first world war, during which time in the winter of 1916 it would be host to one of its most notorious patients - a young Adolf Hitler recovering from a wound sustained during the Battle of the Somme. In 1945 the hospital was captured by the Soviet Army as they marched into what would in 1949 become the Soviet-influenced German Democratic Republic (GDR). As the GDR was absorbed into the Federal Republic of Germany in 1990, the former leader of the GDR - Erich Honecker - would himself stay here for a brief period before fleeing the country to escape responsibility for state abuses committed by his government. The Russians would retain the hospital for several more years, even after the breakup of the Soviet Union, but the hospital would finally become a civilian (and German) institution again in 1995, although due to its poor financial performance most of the buildings would be abandoned in 2000. Behind a patch of peeling wallpaper I found a Russian newspaper from 1990! Some of the site remains in use, but for the most part the buildings are decaying rapidly, attracting no attention other than photographers and graffiti artists.

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    Beelitz-Heilstätten hospital, Brandenburg, Germany by LiamCH on Flickr
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