The town of Zossen outside Berlin has had a long military history in Germany. It was a prisoner of war camp during World War I and from the 1930s on became a top secret complex that was the headquarters of the whole German army during the Second World War. The ‘Zeppelin’ bunker was completed in 1939, and was the largest and most modern telecommunications centre for the German Army. Between 1939 and 1945 all messages sent by the army came through this command centre, which was so large that a tank could enter and unload with ease.
Less than a hundred metres away are the bunker complexes of Maybach I and Maybach II, which housed the top generals of the German military. Built to look like ‘normal’ houses from the air, they were made of reinforced concrete and featured four floors, two above ground and two under. The hundreds of workers entered through secret openings to the complex, connected by hundred of metres of underground passages. The camouflage was so successful that the Allies didn’t discover it until a raid by the US Air Force in 1945, which missed in any case. After 1945, and under the terms of the Allied Occupation Agreement, the bunker complex was supposed to be destroyed.
What actually happened was that the Soviet Army renovated the Zeppelin bunker to make it nuclear-proof, and continued to use it. Until 1994 it was the central command for the Soviet Air Force. .Alongside the bunkers, there are also a number of museums within the complex, such as the Garrison Museum (German military history), and an interesting exhibition on the ‘Everyday Life of the Russian Soldier’. You can also explore the bizarre cigar shaped bomb shelters, which were supposedly virtually impossible to hit from the air. They never caught on.
Info: You need to take the regional train from Alexanderplatz which leaves every 30 minutes and then a bus from outside the train station to Waldstadt Wünsdorf. You can take tours of the bunker complex daily, which run at 2pm on Mondays to Fridays, and 1pm and 3pm on winter weekends (Nov to Mar). From April to October there are three tours a day on Saturdays and Sundays, at 12noon, 2pm and 4pm. Unfortunately the tours are only in German, although there is an information sheet available in English. The museums are open 10am until 5pm daily (In the winter months they are closed on Mondays)