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Beelitz-Heilstätten

Beelitz-Heilstätten Hospital, commonly known as just 'Beelitz', was designed by Architect Heino Schmeiden and work began in 1898. The Hospital was commissioned by the Berlin Workers Health Insurance Corporation and was planned as a Sanatorium. At the beginning of World War One, the Hospital complex of 60 buildings was taken over by the Imperial German Army as a Military Hospital. One of Beelitz’s most infamous patients was Adolf Hitler who was sent to Beelitz to recuperate in October and November 1916 after being wounded in the leg at the Battle of the Somme.

After the Soviet Union invaded Germany towards the end of World War Two, they took over the running of Beelitz and continued its use as a Military Hospital. Beelitz was in the hands of the Soviets until 1995, five years after the reunification of Germany and four years after the fall of Communism. Another infamous resident of Beelitz was Erich Honecker, who was the GDR’s Political leader from 1971 until 1989. He was admitted to Beelitz in 1990 with liver cancer, he later sought refuge in the Chilean Embassy in Moscow but was extradited back to Germany in 1992 by the Yeltsin administration over Cold War crimes relating to the deaths of 192 of people who tried to flee the GDR. He was released at the start of his trial on the grounds of ill health and moved to Chile with his family. He died just over a year after moving to Chile on 29 May 1994, of liver cancer.

Today the Hospital complex sits in a mixed state, some parts have been demolished to make way for housing, other parts have been converted to homes, there are buildings which continue in use for healthcare, and then there are the parts which have been left to rot. But there are soviet relics whichever way you turn, be it Cyrillic text on the walls of the Gymnasia or the monument to the Soviet war dead, no matter what Beelitz reeks of the Cold War.