Government bunker (Germany)
The government bunker is the abbreviation for the alternative seat of the federal constitutional organs (AdVB) in the event of a crisis or defense in order to maintain their functionality . It is a 17.3-kilometer-long bunker around 25 kilometers south of Bonn in the Ahr valley between Bad Neuenahr-Ahrweiler and Dernau in Rhineland-Palatinate , not far from the Marienthal state winery at the time . In the years of planning, construction and use of government bunker under different Decknamen- or was fake names like Rose Garden , unit designation, Marienthal and THW systems Marienthal out.
The bunker was created under the auspices of the Federal Ministry of the Interior under great secrecy between 1960 and 1972 in two of five tunnels built at the beginning of the 20th century on the never-completed Ruhr-Mosel relief line (section Liblar - Rech). The bunker was intended in particular for the civil authorities from what was then the federal capital of Bonn and was intended to serve as an alternative seat and underground guidance system for the German government in the event of a defense (V case) ("alternative seat of the constitutional organs ") .
After the end of the Cold War , the plant was shut down in the late 1990s for cost reasons. Only a few years later, the complete gutting of almost the entire complex began. Today only a small bunker, 203 meters in length, remains of the most expensive building in the Federal Republic of Germany, which has been converted into the Museum Documentation Center Government Bunker. The museum is located on a wooded mountain slope above the Roman villa in Bad Neuenahr-Ahrweiler . In 2009 the government bunker was declared a European cultural heritage by the European Commission .
The planning and construction of the bunker system under the vineyards and forests on the Ahr was based on two old tunnels on a strategic railway line from the Ahr Valley Railway to the strategic embankment in Neuss . It was built in preparation for the First World War , but no longer put into operation. After the war and the years of economic recession, the interest of the then Deutsche Reichsbahn in this unfinished line of no economic importance and it finally stopped building.
Between 1930 and 1939, a mushroom cultivation was set up in the unused railway tunnel . The aim was to become independent of the import of these French noble mushrooms. In the final phase of the Second World War , various armaments companies set up in the tunnels, which outside the protection of the tunnels set up a subcamp of the Buchenwald concentration camp , the Rebstock camp , for the accommodation of forced laborers . Ground systems and vehicles for the V-2 missiles were built in the railway tunnels . In the last days of the war, the civilian population sought shelter from air raids in the tunnels.
Construction and equipping of the government bunker
As mentioned at the beginning, two existing railway tunnels, but at that time still not used for their original purpose, were the structural basis for all further expansion work from 1960 to 1972 on the government bunker. His planning goes back to 1950, Federal Chancellor Dr. Konrad Adenauer was involved from the start.
The under the Trotzenberg lying Trotzenberg tunnel forms with its 1,340 meters in length, the basis for the 3 components of the western BT3 (west-east), BT4 (West-center), and BT5 (West West). While about two thirds of this tunnel run dead straight, the last third bends in the form of a half curve to the south, which was only important for the expansion of the bunker with regard to the usable cover with slate. The arranged in the region of the half-curve member 5 is therefore also only in a northerly direction from the main gallery of propelled been. The eastern parts BT1 (east-west) and BT2 (east-west) lie below the Kuxberg been exaggerated Kuxbergtunnel . Over its entire length of 1285 m, this is a straight line throughout, so that at that time you could see from tunnel mouth to tunnel mouth. Today this is no longer possible due to the massive entrance structures. In addition to the existing 2,625 m long railway tunnels, many more transverse and longitudinal tunnels were excavated. Using drilling and blasting, the miners worked their way through the soft slate of the Ahr valley in the classic way , so that at the end of the construction period the entire system had a tunnel length of approx. 19 km. After deducting all tunneling work, which only served the actual construction purpose itself and which were partially closed again at the end of the construction phase, there was still a usable tunnel length of around 17.3 km to allow a so-called federal emergency administration with a total of 3,000 employees to endure allow at least 30 days.
The plant itself was supposed to be safe against attack with nuclear weapons and was largely self-sufficient in terms of supplying electrical energy, fresh air and drinking water . In contrast to other fortresses or military bunkers, however, it was not armed. The security should be taken over by the Federal Armed Forces units in field positions, including the security and supply regiment of the BMVg . The cost of the building was estimated at around three billion DM ; exact figures are not available due to confidentiality.
The bunker, covered with up to 110 m of rock, consisted of the east and west parts separated by a valley cut, which were connected underground with a walkway at a depth of 60 m. The east component again consisted of two self-sufficient components (east-west and east-east), the west component of three (west-west, west-center and west-east). Starting from the main tunnels, there were transverse and parallel tunnels. They were all lined with concrete and often built on two floors. Various exits and emergency exits led outside.
The main entrances could be locked with rollable MAN gates made of steel and concrete, each weighing 25 tons.
Gates and ventilation covers on the supply air structures that could be closed in fractions of a second were able to hermetically seal the bunker. A drinking water supply from two of our own deep wells, our own power generator, air filter and supplies as well as an infrastructure with kitchens, hospital, dentist, etc. enabled a 30-day stay without contact outside. This was intended to ensure in the event of a defense (V-case) that the Federal Republic of Germany could continue to rule even in a nuclear escalating war and that the Bundeswehr could be led.
In the last stage of construction, which should have been expanded due to the increased space requirement, the bunker could accommodate around 3,000 people who, with the exception of the Federal Chancellor and Federal President, were accommodated in multi-bed rooms, whereby the bedrooms were consistently sparsely furnished. When it was completed in 1971, the bunker had grown to 17.3 km and comprised 936 bedrooms and 897 offices. There were a total of 25,000 doors in this complex to separate these rooms, and even an underground hairdressing salon had been thought of.
In the event of a defense, the bunker should accommodate the Federal President , the Federal Chancellor , the Joint Committee , the President of the Federal Constitutional Court , various ministers and civil and military personnel. The briefings had taken place in a large conference room with map walls right next to the rooms of the Federal Chancellery.
The temporary motorway airport near Grafschaft-Gelsdorf on the A 61 (length: 1,900 m) ( ), completed in 1973, was supposed to act as an airport for the "Marienthal Office" in an emergency. For obfuscation reasons, the bunker's transmitting antennas were located in Bad Münstereifel- Kirspenich in North Rhine-Westphalia, about 30 km to the west .
In the government bunker were under NATO -exercise WINTEX held every two years exercises where the staff up to 30 days in hermetic operation worked. For example, the legislative process was simulated with an emergency parliament of 22 members, and an existing Federal Chancellor (Bundeskanzler-Üb) and a Federal President were not missing. The bunker was used for the first time in October 1966 during the NATO frame exercise FALLEX 66 , and for the last time during the WINTEX / CIMEX exercise in March 1989. The Berlin Wall fell in November of the same year .
Around 180 people were constantly on duty in three shifts for maintenance, repair and operation. For reasons of secrecy, the employees with civil servant and salaried status were only recruited in the region and bound to strict secrecy.
As it became known in 2008, the bunker system would have withstood just a 20 kiloton bomb, comparable to the explosive force of a " Hiroshima bomb ". Although in 1962 secret reports were counting on weapons that were 250 times more powerful and it was clear that the facility would collapse in an emergency in the event of a nuclear strike, the construction project was continued for political reasons.
Coordinates of the entrance structures
- (east / east)
- (east / west or west / east)
- (west / west)
Dismantling of the plant (2001-2006)
In 1997, the then federal government decided to give up the government bunker, as no civil use concept could be found for the facility. The fire protection renovation, which had only just begun and implemented, was a decisive obstacle for investors. The running operating costs of 20 million DM per year could have been reduced, however, had it been used for civil purposes, which would not have required any precautions for a nuclear strike. A user would only have to use one of the five components independently.
The government bunker was cleared and sealed in the following years with a financial investment of 16 million euros. The dismantling with the complete clearing out of the interior was necessary for reasons of environmental protection . It began in 2001. Since the pumps were switched off when the system was abandoned, water ingress into the tunnels was to be expected. As a result, environmentally harmful building materials could have entered the groundwater .
When, after the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001 , thought was given to whether it might not make sense to maintain the bunker, the demolition stalled for a short time.
In 2006 the demolition work was finished. What is left is the bare, concrete-lined tunnel tube. The entrance structures above the Kloster Marienthal winery still exist; but their gates are welded.
Documentation center government bunker (from 2008)
From the entire bunker system and its facilities, a bunker section of 203 m in length has been preserved in Kuxberg not far from Ahrweiler. With the help of the district of Ahrweiler , the bunker section was expanded into a museum as a symbol of the Cold War and a contemporary testimony, which is called the Government Bunker Documentation Center . After the groundbreaking on November 22, 2006, the museum facility was opened on February 29, 2008. The federal government continues to own it, and has invested 2.5 million euros in the museum. The reason for the participation of the federal government is also that the originally estimated costs of 30 million euros for the dismantling were clearly undercut with 16 million euros. The museum is run by the Heimatverein Alt-Ahrweiler e. V. led.
The government bunker documentation center includes the entrance of component 1 (east / east), which has been expanded to include the ticket office, film room and functional areas, and the following 203 m of this component. There, visitors experience the two MAN gates along with bypass locks and decontamination rooms, then three more steel locks and a number of rooms on the working level as well as the living and sleeping rooms on the upper floor. Sanitary building 29, which is partly authentically furnished, can also be seen. Set pieces from the bunker equipment, photos and the guided tours make it possible to experience function and life in the bunker in a largely preserved small part of the bunker. After 203 m, at the end of the museum area, you can see the completely gutted bunker tube leading further into the mountain. The documents about the bunker presented in the documentation center come to a large extent from the holdings of the Ministry for State Security of the GDR , since the German documents are still almost completely confidential.
The government bunker documentation center is one of 15 extraordinary locations, one of the masterpieces between the Rhine and Moselle .
Secrecy of the government bunker
The government bunker in the Ahr Valley was considered the most secret structure in the history of the Federal Republic of Germany.
The government bunker was surrounded by an aura of mystery throughout its existence, even though the extensive construction work meant that absolute secrecy was not possible. Rumors made the rounds in the Ahr Valley, for example, there was talk of an underground luxury department store or even of an underground brothel . There were also repeated reports of an underground connection between Bonn and the government bunker, in which there was even an underground train . The rumor read: “The tunnels go up to Hardtberg.” But what was meant was not the Bonn district with the seat of the Defense Ministry on Hardthöhe, but the Hardtberg vineyard in Dernau . There is actually the western entrance to the government bunker with component 223.
Images from the government bunker documentation center
In addition to a series of documentaries, the Marienthal office also produced the feature film Marienthal: State of Emergency in August 2001 , which was not only shot almost exclusively at the original locations in the bunker, but also addressed them. The Götz-George film The Trace of My Daughter (shot in 1999, broadcast on television in 2000; working title: Element of Death ) was partly shot in the bunker, which is not mentioned as such in the film.
In 2009, the tunnel footage of the RTL film Vulkan was shot in a specially converted tunnel tube inside the bunker.
Government bunker in the GDR
- Michael Preute : From the federal government's bunker . edition nachraben, Cologne 1984, ISBN 3-924366-00-4 .
- Michael Preute: The Bunker - A Journey into the Bonn Underworld . Pahl-Rugenstein, Cologne 1989, ISBN 3-7609-1281-8 .
- Horst Garbe: The government bunker. AdVB without a future? (= DAWA News . Special Issue 27). German Atlantic Wall Archive (DAWA), Cologne 1999, ISBN 3-931032-91-4 .
- Wolfgang Gückelhorn: Rebstock camp. Secret armaments factory in Eifel railway tunnels for V2 ground systems 1943–1944 . Helios-Verlag, Aachen 2006, ISBN 3-938208-30-9 .
- Wolfgang Gückelhorn: The history of the Bonn government bunker in the Ahr valley. Construction, use, dismantling, 1915–2007 . Helios-Verlag, Aachen 2007, ISBN 978-3-938208-45-8 .
- Werner Lacoste, Peter Skibbe: Alternative seat of the federal constitutional organs. The bunker in the Ahr valley and its history (= fortification . Special 2). Study group Interfest, Saarbrücken 1999, DNB 980775531 .
- Peter Skibbe: Visit of the former alternative seat of the constitutional organs of the federal government ("government bunker") Marienthal . In: Fortress Journal . No. 9 , November 1999, p. 16-19 .
- Christian Linder : Where you can't get there. One last walk through the federal government's nuclear bunker . In: The castle in the clouds. Views of the Rhine Valley and elsewhere . DuMont, Cologne 2001, ISBN 3-7701-5827-X , p. 101-122 .
- Wolfram Dorn : The cold war was so hot. Fallex 66 . Dittrich, Cologne 2002, ISBN 3-920862-39-2 .
- Andreas Magdanz: Marienthal Office. A building monograph . Self-published, 2002, ISBN 3-00-005923-7 .
- Federal Office for Building and Regional Planning, Foundation House of the History of the Federal Republic of Germany (Ed.): The government bunker . Ernst Wasmuth Verlag, Berlin / Tübingen 2007, ISBN 978-3-8030-0671-4 .
- Ursula Samary: The bunker. During the war, the government was supposed to flee to the Ahr bunker - the government complex was considered the most secret place in the republic in the 80s - construction on the remains of a concentration camp - now a museum is supposed to document checkered history In: 60 years of Rhineland-Palatinate. Festschrift. (Special publication by RHEIN-ZEITUNG and its local editions, May 16/17, 2007), Mittelrheinverlag, Koblenz 2007, p. B-42
- Christoph Bach: The government bunker in the Ahr valley and its history . Gaasterland-Verlag, Düsseldorf 2008, ISBN 978-3-935873-30-7 .
- Christoph Bach: The government bunker and its history . 5th edition, Eifel-Verlag, Jünkerath 2016, ISBN 978-3-943123-18-0 .
- Manfred Böckling: Documentation center government bunker near Bad Neuenahr-Ahrweiler . In: Rheinische Heimatpflege . 45th year, no. 4 . Rhenish Association for Monument Preservation and Landscape Protection eV, 2008, ISSN 0342-1805 , p. 311 f .
- Stephanie Jacobs, Stefan-Paul Jacobs: "On October 22nd, 1966 the Third World War begins". The government bunker near Marienthal an der Ahr as a monument to the Cold War . In: Inge Marszolek, Marc Buggeln (Ed.): Bunker. War site, refuge, memory space . Campus, Frankfurt am Main 2008, ISBN 978-3-593-38603-4 , p. 89-102 .
- Jörg Diester: Secret files government bunker. Diary of a state secret . Handicraft publishing house, Düsseldorf 2008, ISBN 978-3-87864-911-3 .
- Heike Hollunder: Documentation center government bunker . A museum guide for young people . Gaasterland-Verlag, Düsseldorf 2010, ISBN 978-3-935873-42-0 .
- Heike Hollunder (Ed.): The government bunker . Eifel-Verlag, Cologne 2011, ISBN 978-3-943123-00-5 .
- Tobias Feld: Spies and State Secrets - As a relic from the Cold War, the former government bunker in the Ahr Valley stimulates the imagination of visitors and residents. In: Neue Zürcher Zeitung. International edition, Zurich, No. 221, September 24, 2013, Spectrum Germany, p. 7, full-page.
- Jörg Diester, Michaela Karle: Plan B. - Bonn, Berlin and their government bunkers. An East-West Dialogue on the Cold War . Handicraft publishing house, Düsseldorf 2013, ISBN 978-3-86950-164-2 .
Film documents and reports
- -AdvB- Marienthal . Oberfinanzdirektion Koblenz, Federal Property Administration, Koblenz 1998. (Length: 12 minutes)
- The federal bunker. Out for state secret No. 1 . A film by Edith Beßling. NDR, Germany, 2001. (Length: 30 minutes)
- Code name "rose garden" . A report by Jörg Laaks. WDR, Germany, 2002. (Length: 30 minutes)
- Film documentation about the alternative seat of the constitutional organs of the Federal Republic of Germany . In the summer of 2001, the Koblenz Chamber of Crafts began to report on the former Marienthal government bunker with its TV program HwK-TV , which was re-produced every fortnight in cooperation with the regional TV channels WW-TV and Kanal 10 . After filming in the following years and enriched with a lot of information from contemporary witnesses, a 50-minute film documentary was created in autumn 2004 about the alternative seat of the constitutional organs of the Federal Republic of Germany in crisis and war .
- Florian Huber: Government bunker . TV film of the series Mysterious Places of WDR TV, first broadcast on April 24, 2015, media library .
- Website to the current documentation sites in former government bunkers Bunker documentation sites
- Website of the alternative seat of the constitutional organs of the Federal Republic of Germany Alternative seat
- Website of the documentation center government bunker in Bad Neuenahr-Ahrweiler
- Photos and history of the railway, the tunnel and the bunker
- Pictures of the tunnel portals and a map showing the exact course of the tunnels
- Side of a photographer to the bunker
- Video about the documentation site and interview with a former employee
- Government bunker on wdr.de
- Jörg Diester: Secret files government bunker. 1st edition. 2008, p. 56.
- Christoph Bach: The government bunker in the Ahr valley and its history. 2nd Edition. 2008, p. 5.
- Ahrweiler: Former governmentbecomes European cultural heritage. In: aachener-nachrichten.de. Aachener Nachrichten, June 4, 2009, accessed on August 14, 2020 .
- The government bunker. Government bunker documentation center, accessed on March 2, 2020 .
- W. Gückelhorn: The history of the Bonn government bunker in the Ahr valley. 2007, p. 7.
- Christopher J. Peter: Germany's secret superbunker. In: one day. March 18, 2008, accessed March 23, 2008 .
- Christoph Lüttgen: The "alternative seat" becomes a museum. (No longer available online.) In: General-Anzeiger Online. November 22, 2006, archived from the original on September 30, 2007 ; accessed on October 5, 2019 .
- Günther Schmitt: The most secret building in the republic: he had to be silent for 36 years. In: ga.de. April 30, 2016, accessed August 14, 2020 .