Why visit Beelitz Hospital

The beauty of decay is summed up in this immense hospital complex, enveloped in forest on the outskirts of Berlin. Bisected by the trainline, the 19th century buildings (for the most part) stand eerily abandoned and vandalised, but their Art Deco architectural splendor remains. With over one hundred years of history, Beelitz Sanatorium tells true stories of fatal disease, world war, serial killers and famous patients (including Adolf Hitler and Erich Honecker). Although many of the semi-derelict structures are boarded up, with a little persistence a way inside can often be discovered to explore the heart of this old hospital.

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Beelitz Hospital and Sanatorium history

Beelitz Sanatorium (Beelitz Heilstätten)

Beelitz Heilstätten, German for Beelitz Sanatorium, was originally designed as a treatment complex for tuberculosis in 1894. Initially, the complex featured four sanatoriums, to which a surgery pavilion was added in 1930. Not only was it one of the largest hospital complexes in the Berlin area, boasting over 60 buildings nestled in the forest, but the sanatoriums were exemplary of their time.

Beelitz Hospital - The Home to Hitler

From the beginning of WWI, the complex be...

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Beelitz Sanatorium (Beelitz Heilstätten)

Beelitz Heilstätten, German for Beelitz Sanatorium, was originally designed as a treatment complex for tuberculosis in 1894. Initially, the complex featured four sanatoriums, to which a surgery pavilion was added in 1930. Not only was it one of the largest hospital complexes in the Berlin area, boasting over 60 buildings nestled in the forest, but the sanatoriums were exemplary of their time.

Beelitz Hospital - The Home to Hitler

From the beginning of WWI, the complex became the home of the Beelitz Military Hospital. More than 12,500 soldiers were cared for at Beelitz Hospital, among them a young Adolf Hitler where, from October to November in 1916, he recuperated from a leg wound received during the Battle of the Somme. Ironically, his successful treatment would set the stage for the complex to once again be used as a military hospital, treating wounded Nazi’s during WWII. Also, for its partial destruction, with one of the female sanatoriums being bombed by the British, mistaken for a military barracks.

Soviet Military Hospital

Occupied by Soviet forces in 1945, Beelitz Heilstätten and the surrounding area closed off. Incorporated into East Germany, the complex remained a military hospital until well after German reunification in 1995. Notable guests of the period included Erich Honecker. Made famous by the East Side Gallery painting of him kissing Soviet leader Leonid Brezhnev, Erich was admitted to Beelitz Hospital in December 1990 after being forced to resign as head of the GDR.

The Beelitz Beast

The chaotic interim between the fall of the Wall and German Reunification brought terror to the women of Beelitz. The serial killer dubbed the Beast of Beelitz stalked and strangled five women in the vicinity of Beelitz Hospital, leaving the pink lingerie he used to suffocate his victims on the corpse as a sick calling card.

Failed Restoration and Abandonment

A new era for Beelitz Sanatorium began in 1995 with the withdrawal of the Soviet garrison and the reassignment of the land back to the original owners, who swiftly sold it to an investor.

The old power house with its large water tower and one of the men’s sanatoriums were restored to their former glory and are currently in operation for specialist rehabilitation and research. However, the concept of reuse of the historic area halted in 2000 when the investment company became insolvent. The remainder of the complex, including the women’s sanitorium, bathhouse, old surgery and psychiatric ward, now lie abandoned.

The decaying hospital buildings and surrounding forest give the area a ominous atmosphere. However, the complex retains a touch of flair and charisma, which has attracted Hollywood as the set for movies including The Pianist and Valkyrie.

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Opening hours

No set hours

Time to visit

6 hours

Transport

RE7 to Beelitz Heilstätten

Address

Beelitz Heilstätten, 14547 Brandenburg, Germany