The abandoned Beelitz Sanatorium (Heilstätten) lies in East Germany and was built in 1898. It was primarily designed by two leading German architects, Heino Forging and Julius Boethke, and specialised in the treatment of TB (the individual pavillions were built east-west so that one of the longer sides would face directly south to benefit from sunshine; these pavilions also featured distinctive first floor bathing terraces). The site is vast and spreads out to northern and southern complexes split in the centre by a purpose built railway station.
In its heyday, Beelitz was a self-sufficient colony housing up to 1200 patients, producing its own meat, vegetables and bread and boasting a post office, restaurant, mortuary, nursery, stables, workshops and laundries. There were separate areas for men and women, the only areas where they might meet being the church (now demolished) and the central bath house.
During both World Wars Beelitz was used as a military hospital and in WW1 Hitler was admitted there for a short stay which he refers to in his autobiography, Mein Kampf. Post-war Soviet administration ensured the survival of Beelitz with neither renovation nor demolition taking place. Although in 1995 the site was listed, inevitable deterioration and decay continue to ravage the structures.
On the day of my visit the ornate, majestic buildings and surrounding pine forests, vast and dense, were covered with thick snow. There was lamentable and widespread evidence of petty theft, scavenging and looters bleeding the beautiful buildings dry of their few remaining fixtures and fittings.
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