Teufelsberg: A Photo Tour Inside Berlin’s Secret Abandoned Spy Station

Berlin is a city that harbors its share of ghosts. As Germany’s premier city marches ever further into the future, shiny new government buildings and designer lofts rising on vacant lots across the capital, vestiges of Berlin’s infamous role in two World Wars and a Cold War can still be found if you know where to look. A prime example of this 20th-century legacy is Teufelsberg, an artificial hill just west of Berlin that harbors an amazing connection to Second World War military history and a now abandoned Cold War-era spy station.

The history of Teufelsberg is a fascinating mix of World War II and Cold War intrigue. During the Third Reich, Teufelsberg was to be the site of a proposed Nazi military technical college that was never completed. After the war, German authorities began hiding the unfinished buildings by burying them under more than 75 Million cubic meters of rubble created by Allied bombing campaigns. As the Cold War kicked into high gear, American military personnel began using the artificial hill’s excellent height to improve their efforts to spy on Soviet and East German communications, eventually building the radar domes and buildings in evidence to this day.

Touring the Teufelsberg site today is possible through an organized tour, though there is a bit of an ongoing debate amongst Berlin locals as to who should be allowed access. Once inside, the sight is a beautifully creepy mixture of colorful graffiti and decaying radar towers. Theme park this is not – broken glass, dark staircases and a lack of railings make the tour rather treacherous – but for a one of a kind chance to step inside Berlin history, it can’t be beat. Check out the photos below from Gadling’s recent visit.


Photo of the day (10.21.10)

Do spies wear sundresses? Flickr user jrodmanjr snapped this woman in Moscow‘s Red Square and imagines she may be a cold war spy, her black briefcase full of classified documents. More likely an art student with a portfolio, but any any rate, its fun to speculate on the secret lives of strangers. As a photo, it’s pretty interesting too: nicely framed, distinctly Russian, and the mysterious girl’s dress balances nicely with the colors of St. Basil’s Cathedral.

Photograph any intriguing people on your travels? Submit your photos to Gadling’s Flickr Pool & it could be our next Photo of the Day!

Not a nomad: Unusual traveler looks for way into politics

Warning: this won’t work for everybody. It helps to be female, smokin’ hot and be able to lie comfortably through your teeth.

When you travel, I suspect you don’t roll like Anna Chapman. Rather than book a flight, get a room at an upscale hotel (or pay-by-the-hour joint) and see the usual sights, she truly blended in like a local … and kept here eyes on the sorts of attraction that people back in Moscow want to hear about it.

In case you’re a bit behind, Anna Chapman’s not one of these nomads who scrapes for a living here and there between or during random excursions for self-fulfillment. Rather, she took a four-year extended business trip that ultimately landed her in handcuffs before sending her back to the motherland in a spook-swap.

Anna Chapman was a Russian spy.

And, in case you’re extremely dim, the only reason you know her name and nobody else’s is because “drop-dead” is more than just her job. Now that she can’t lurk in our dark alleys any more, Chapman’s looking for a job, and if life cuts her way, it will be in politics.

The hottie agent has already drummed up some name recognition and celebrity status – to the point where she has to “wear sunglasses and a hat on the street,” she tells Der Spiegel. It’s a good problem to have when you’re running for office. Der Spiegel continues:

Russia has been consumed by a Chapman cult since her return. The tabloids print page after page of love confessions by her previous boyfriends. In her hometown of Volgograd, known as the “City of Heroes” for its role in World War II, members of the city council have proposed making the 28-year-old an honorable citizen.

Her next step is to get her website “up and running,” according to Chapman, which will have the contact details for her publicist … utterly predictable for the recently (in)famous.

Maybe she’ll get a call from Steven Slater for advice. Like Chapman, he probably can’t go back to his old line of work, and starting from scratch when you’ve been plastered all over the media can be so difficult.

[Via Business Insider, photo via Facebook]

SkyMall Monday: Top 10 pieces of spy gear

The world is a scary place. Heck, even the Cold War is heating up (er, cooling off?) again with Russian spies being kicked out of the US. It’s becoming harder and harder to trust anyone, even your family. Here in the SkyMall Monday headquarters, I trust Calvin the Garden Yeti and no one else. In these crazy times, it’s best to find out all the information you can on those around you, lest they try to steal your possessions, kidnap your children or take over your life like that crazy lady from Single White Female. Covert ops are not just for TV and the movies. You need to take matters into your own hands and do constant reconnaissance to be sure that you stay one step ahead of your wife, boyfriend, babysitter, coworker or daughter. Thankfully, SkyMall knows that your paranoia is justified and that a tinfoil hat is not enough to keep you safe from the people who want to steal your thoughts. They have 89(!!!) different items listed in their “Under Cover” spy and surveillance section. If that doesn’t validate your decision to spy on your loved ones, then just do it because it’s fun! This week, we take a look at the top 10 pieces of spy gear in SkyMall.Teddy Bear Hidden Camera Pictured above, this innocent looking teddy bear houses a heat activated camera which will record your baby’s entire sweaty nap thanks to that handsome and thick wool cap. It also works on grown women who creepily dress like little girls.

Tie Spy CameraWhat better way to spy on your coworkers than by placing a camera discreetly in your office attire? Of course, if you work as a lifeguard, you’ll want to make sure that the tie matches your swimsuit.

Cell Phone Spy Text ReaderThis device lets you read deleted text messages and review deleted numbers from any cell phone that uses a SIM card. There’s no way your girlfriend can hide her affair – or her obsession with the Justin Bieber fan line – now.

ID Card Hidden Camera Almost every office requires employees to keep an ID badge with them at all times. So what better way to hide your spy camera then behind that unflattering photo of that kind of makes you look like a pedophile? And, since everyone from your office park eats at the same Applebee’s, you can also use it to see who’s been spitting in your Wonton Tacos.

Tissue Box Internet CameraThe camera in this tissue box streams video directly to the web for you to watch in real time. If you see someone bring a bottle of moisturizer over to the tissues, it may be time to navigate to another website.

Panning Faux Security CameraYou’re not the only person who’s paranoid. Play on your friends’ fears by just making them think that they’re being watched. Now maybe they’ll stop leaving those bags of poop on your front porch.

Electric Outlet Hidden CameraSince it’s motion-activated, you’ll get great footage of your unattended toddler approaching the outlet immediately before sticking a fork in it.

Wireless Color Mirror CameraAs the product description so poetically puts is, “Mirror, mirror on the wall, catch that burglar once and for all.” Assuming, of course, that the burglar stops in the bathroom to put on some of your makeup. Speaking of which, you look like a clown whore when you wear all that blush.

Cell Phone Voice ChangerI’ll defer to the product description on this one: “No one will recognize your voice with The Cell Phone Voice Changer. Easily change your voice from man to woman, woman to man, a child’s voice, or even a robot–and it will sound completely real and natural.” Now you can call your ex and use that completely real and natural robot voice. She’ll be none the wiser.

Ultra Spy Hearing Ear MuffsHear every conversation going on around you while blending into the environment with your massive headphones with two microphones prominently attached to each ear.

Of course, what you do with this equipment is your business. Gadling in no way, shape or form condones you violating any privacy laws or statutes when spying on people. I assume you’ll be using these tools for educational purposes. Though, if I see you in the gym locker room in nothing but a tie, I’m going to punch you in the throat.

Check out all of the previous SkyMall Monday posts HERE.