Oct 19, 2014

Bunker Kralenriede – Führung 3. Oktober 2014

Keep calm!
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In Braunschweig, very few bunkers remain in original condition. The city center was dotted with bunkers during WWII, however most of them were taken down after the war. Others were turned into apartment buildings, none of which still look like bunkers to this day, of course. Bunker Kralenriede is one of the few that remained untouched. Organized by KulturTeam, monthly tours are available for those interested in taking a peek inside Bunker Kralenriede.

The tour lasts about 1 1/2 hours, costs 7€, and is led by a well-informed local (i.e. a Braunschweiger). Though the bunker was not built below ground, it felt about 10 Degrees chillier inside. That's the first thing I noticed upon entering, in addition to feeling a tad spooked out. The second thing I noticed was Rauchen verboten! (Smoking not permitted!) written on almost every wall in an unfamiliar typeface.

The bunker has a simple layout: ground floor, 1st floor and 2nd floor. Each floor looks identical to the next and consists of long hallways lined with 6 sq. metre rooms. Unbelievably, 20 people fit in each of these rooms, sometimes for days at a time. Despite having vents that allowed fresh air to enter the bunker, ventilation was horrible and made worse by the perpetually foul state of the washrooms.

Only German women and children were allowed in the bunker. Foreigners and Jews were not permitted to enter. Bunker Kralenriede was mainly for residents in the local area, and most people kept a few of their belongings inside the bunker as there were periods of time when the alarms went off frequently.

The photos below show stairs leading to one of the bunker's main entrances, as well as the actual door at that entrance. Our tour guide explained that once the door was closed, it remained closed until it was safe to open again. Oftentimes, people who hadn't entered the bunker in time desperately waited at this door in hopes of being let in. The sheer thought of this makes my heart sink.

Nowadays, musicians make use of Bunker Kralenriede by renting out the space for practice sessions. I've shared this with a few people I know and I've either gotten a raised eyebrow or a shrug of the shoulders. So long as the musicians are comfortable with it, why shouldn't it be tolerated?

Situated in the neighbourhood of Kralenriede, it's hard to notice the unassuming bunker at first since it's surrounded by normal houses on a residential street. Here's a photo of the bunker taken from outside.

While it isn't the most positive time in history to reflect on, my visit to Bunker Kralenriede was admittedly fascinating. The past cannot be changed. As such, I think it's necessary for one to know a thing or two about the place where one lives or the place one calls home, even if this place is temporary. I can't think of a more worthwhile activity to have done on the Tag der Deutschen Einheit (Day of German Unity) earlier this month. *proudly waves German flag in the air*

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