Abandoned NSA Listening Station on Devil’s Mountain, Berlin

August 22nd, 2011 Permalink

Once upon a time, or during the Cold War, the U.S. National Security Agency (NSA) built a man-made mountain of rubble over the top of an underground Nazi technical college in Berlin. This massive hill was called Devil’s Mountain, or Teufelsberg in German. It was on Devil’s Mountain where the NSA built one of the largest and highly classified Listening Stations in the world to eavesdrop and spy, intercepting Soviet, East German and other countries’ communications. This NSA Listening Station of Radar Domes on “The Hill,” was rumored to be a part of the global ECHELON intelligence gathering network. Other rumors include tunnels beneath the spy complex and yet others suggesting that by 1954, 1,200 calls could be recorded simultaneously, filling up more than 50,000 reel tapes, so that hundreds of tape recorders were installed, the better to hear and record you with my dears. The station continued to operate until the fall of East Germany and the Berlin Wall. Yet after the station was closed, abandoned, and the equipment removed, the derelict buildings and radar domes still remained. This was too much temptation to urban explorers, especially since the elevation of Teufelsberg is 377 feet, and the former NSA Listening Station is over 262 feet high, offering the best views overlooking Berlin. Here’s a urban exploration look at Devil’s Mountain; the once highly classified, now highly vandalized NSA radar domes at Teufelsberg. On this trail of spies during this armchair tour of abandoned NSA listening station in Berlin, remember a little intelligence motto: In God we trust; all others we monitor. [44 photos]

Teufelsberg towers, abandoned NSA spy station in Berlin

Abandoned NSA spy station: The elevation of Teufelsberg is 377 feet (115 m) but the hill north of Berlin, Germany’s, Grunewald forest was artificially created by the Allies after WWII. The Allies built Devil’s Mountain from about 400,000 buildings that were reduced to rubble during the 20 years after Berlin was rebuilt. The Teufelsberg Towers stand over 262 feet (80 meters) tall. The former U.S. listening station which sits atop Devil’s Mountain was referred to as “The Hill” by American soldiers, spooks and their Allies. Photo #1 by Matt Biddulph

Sentry box at abandoned NSA Teufelsberg Listening Station in Berlin

Sentry box at abandoned NSA Teufelsberg Listening Station in Berlin. When the NSA built one of the largest listening stations in the world on top of “The Hill,” it was rumored to be a part of the global ECHELON intelligence gathering network. The mystery of Devil’s Mountain began with what was buried beneath the hill. It was a Nazi military-technical college that the Allies could not demolish with explosives. It turned out easier to cover it with debris and build a man-made rubble mound. There are rumors that Americans had excavated a shaft down through the ruins beneath The Hill, but it was never proven. In fact, many rumors circulated about the highly classified NSA Listening Station including one about “the tunnel” beneath being an underground escape route for people working at Devil’s Mountain, or that the tunnels were being used to further intercept communications and spy on the world. Photo #2 by Matt Biddulph


Teufelsberg Radar Station Watchtower in Berlin, Germany

Teufelsberg Radar Station Watchtower in Berlin, Germany. It is also said that Grunewald Forest in German means wild boar, so American soldiers nicknamed them “gurnie pigs” since the animals roamed the hill. In the 1950s, Mobile Allies drove around through West Berlin to find the best vantage points for listening to military traffic regarding the Soviets, East Germans and other “Warsaw Pact” nations. When one unit parked at the top of Teufelsberg, the G-men discovered the place offered great improvement in listening ability. This is why the NSA ran the large listening post built upon Devil’s Mountain. The U.S. government asked for the ski lifts to be removed since they allegedly disturbed the signals. When NSA Operations discovered that the reception of radio signals was better during the annual German-American Festival due to the Ferris Wheel acting like an amplifier, they asked that the Ferris wheel be left standing after the festival was over. Photo #3 by © Madzia Bryll

Small tower at Devil's Mountain, Teufelsberg former NSA listening post in Berlin

Small ‘Jambalaya’ tower at Devil’s Mountain in Berlin. The Jambalaya tower is regarded as one of the most mysterious installations at Teufelsberg. On the “legal” tour, this Jambayala smallest Tower is off limits, as are other buildings due to “asbestos installed” there. Photo #4 by Matt Biddulph

Rusty and crusty at abandoned US Listening Station in Teufelsberg, Berlin taken  May 2011

Rusty and crusty steel bones, the only remnants of an old warehouse at abandoned U.S. spy complex. This Teufelsberg photo was taken in May 2011. Photo #5 by Parkinpants

Teufelsberg abandoned by NSA Listening Station

The spy station on Devil’s Mountain continued to operate until the fall of East Germany and the Berlin Wall. Then the station was closed and the equipment was removed. The buildings and radar domes still remain in place. This is the current condition of abandoned Teufelsberg. Photo #6 by Victor Bergmann

Teufelsberg FREAK graffiti 2011

A German newspaper talked of illegally entering the site before a young entrepreneur set up ‘legal tours’ to the decayed trail of spies. All the locks are broken and the 48-acre site suffered seven years of decay when the area was not protected by security guards. All valuables have been stolen by copper and metal cable thieves. “The five white balls, the symbol of the devil, are all cut.” Photo #7 by Victor Bergmann

Looking up at Teufelsberg 2011, abandoned NSA listening station on Devil's Mountain

Looking up at Teufelsberg. Photo #8 by Victor Bergmann

abandoned Teufelsberg graffiti previous NSA ears station

Curiously, the terms “Alien” and “Aliens” are referred to multiple times in English graffiti at the previous NSA ears station. Photo #9 by Victor Bergmann

abandoned NSA listening station on top of the Teufelsberg, Germany

The photographer wrote, “This impressive elevation (called the Devil’s Hill) is nothing but a mound of 12 million cubic meters of WW2 rubble piled on the carcass of an abandoned Nazi military college, overgrown with forest, and the cherry on the top is the spy station which the Americans used to eavesdrop on the Russians East of the Wall. It has been abandoned since the end of the Cold War and has suffered much decay. You’re not supposed to go there, but the three fence perimeter can’t really stop the curious, and the payback in adrenaline is immense. You just need to be very careful not to injure yourself on any of the damaged construction, slide off a ladder, get lost in the creepy basement or fall into the open elevator shaft at the top of the main radome tower. Keeping all that in mind, it is well worth the climb as the echo in the main dome is so strong, even your own breath is reiterated.” Photo #10 by Magic Madzik

Unfinished building at Teufelsberg in Berlin, former NSA listening station

This is NSA building was unfinished before the fall of the Berlin wall. Photo #11 by Steve.Jackson

Teufelsberg, former NSA listening post on the Devil's Mountain, Popular place on a Saturday

The photographer called this a “Popular place on a Saturday.” Photo #12 by Matt Biddulph

Considering the climbing it takes to get to Teufelsberg former NSA listening post, I agree with the photographer who called this "Inappropriate attire."

Considering the climbing it takes to access Teufelsberg, the photographer called this “inappropriate attire” for urban exploration. Photo #13 by Matt Biddulph

A hall in the former NSA listening post on the Devil's Mountain in Berlin

Abandoned hallway on Devil’s Mountain. Photo #14 by Gregor Fischer

Irony Fly graffitti from abandoned Teufelsberg NSA Listening Station

You know the saying I wish I could be a fly on the wall, meaning to hear what is said? So this fly graffiti seemed like great irony at the abandoned NSA Listening Station. Photo #15 by Neil H

The Arctic Tower abandoned NSA Teufelsberg Radar Station

The Arctic Tower. Note the spray-painted message. There may be some leftover resentment in regards to the former NSA spy station. Photo #16 by © Madzia Bryll

Graffitti tag...Teufelsberg NSA station

In the 1990s there was talk of preserving the former NSA Listening Station as a sort of spy museum. That plan fell through. There were estimates of almost $50 million to mortage the place, so after it was heavily vandalized, the project was forgotten. In 2011, an enterprising student began offering guided tours in German and in English also to the former NSA field station. This offered the first real opportunity for Berlin residents and visitors to legally visit Teufelsberg spy station. Photo #17 by David Rush

Machine in abandoned NSA Teufelsberg Listening Station

Unknown Teufelsberg machines left to decay. Photo #18 by Herman (baracoder)

Approaching former Devil's Mountain and NSA Radar listening station

Approaching Devil’s Mountain and the heavily-tagged former NSA Radar listening station. Photo #19 by Tom Taylor

Interior offices of abandoned Teufelsberg NSA listening station

Shot of the interior offices. At its prime, NSA people would “chemically” break down all the papers that were no longer needed and then use them to generate heat for the building in large boilers. The student who wanted to make tours legal to Devil’s Mountain had to start by first registering all 800 people who used to work at the spy station. Photo #20 by David Rush

abandoned Radar Rust at Teufelsberg NSA station

The photographer called this “Abandoned Radar Rust.” Photo #21 by David Rush

Former NSA American military radio installation at Teufelsberg

Mr. Schoen, one of my favorite people from the EFF (Electronic Frontier Foundation), took this shot. He wrote, “Former NSA American military radio installation at Teufelsberg.” Photo #22 by Seth Schoen

2010 Teufelsberg Graffiti - Devil's Mountain NSA

2010 Teufelsberg Graffiti – People of Berlin Underground Association and have researched under Devil’s Mountain and the former NSA facility. Despite many people assuming the underground tunnels exist, they reportedly found no secret bunker rooms and called all the hype “mere speculation.” However, it is “curious that at a place on the coordinates of all the missiles of the Soviet Union were addressed, there is no bunker.” Photo #23 by Steve.Jackson

Graffiti and overlook at Teufelsberg

The Devil Mountain is still good for generating myths and graffiti tagging. Other urban explorers are said to bring wine and blankets to enjoy the view and such. Photo #24 by Victor Bergmann

Collapsed lift shaft at Devil's Mountain - Teufelsberg former NSA listening post in Berlin

Collapsed lift shaft at Devil’s Mountain. A German newspaper described previous illegal visits to the the derelict NSA listening station. The lift elevator is broken, so visiting the spy station takes “228 steps through a dark staircase” before the “domed top is reached.” The outer skin of the domes was reportedly first cut open by people probably just wanting to enjoy the view. Now most of the foil-lined skins have been shredded. Photo #25 by Matt Biddulph

At the Teufelsberg in Berlin. A former american monitoring station for eastern radio communication

At Teufelsberg in Berlin. The photographer described it as, “A former American monitoring station for eastern radio communication.” Photo #26 by Till Krech

Teufelsberg roof in 2011 spring

Untold thousands of people have supposedly enjoyed this view of Teufelsberg roof “illegally” in the years since the Cold War and the NSA listening station was abandoned. This shot was captured in the spring of 2011. Photo #27 by Victor Bergmann

Blue graffiti about abandoned NSA Teufelsberg

American Allies, namely the Brits were also supposedly busy spying from this location. Now there is only decay, graffiti tags, and curiousity by urban explorers at the former military and government intelligence complex. Photo #28 by Steve.Jackson

Main tower Teufelsberg abandoned NSA listening Station

Main Teufelsberg tower. The view from the top is supposed to be phenomenal, overlooking the entire area. Some visitors to the former NSA Listening Station use the domes for acoustics and jam. Even when it was illegal, and people had to slip in through cut barbed wire, there were reportedly at least 100 people on the site every summer weekend. Photo #29 by Matt Biddulph

Inside Berlin Teufelsberg graffiti 2011

One site alleges that American CIA and British Secret Intelligence Service ran a joint operation called Operation Gold in the 1950s from underneath the NSA spy station and tapped into landline communications of the Soviet Army headquarters in Berlin. It further suggests sources say the operation tunneled under the NSA spy station, into and under the Grunewald Forest, into the Soviet-occupied zone. If all of that were to be true, remember no tunnels were found, then this place was overrun by spooks. Photo #30 by Victor Bergmann

Berlin's Biggest Balls

“Pet name” for the Teufelsberg spy facility: “Berlin’s Biggest Balls.” Photo #31 by dasalte.ccc.de

Inside the Teufelsberg NSA Listening Station dome

The photographer wrote, “This is the interior of one of the domes at the Teufelsberg listening post in Berlin If you look carefully you’ll see that no repeating pattern exists. My friends and I were unsure why this should be but reckon its something to do with minimizing constructive interference. The Other main dome was a very regular shape so maybe they have opposite functions….any ideas?” Photo #32 by Neil H

Teufelsberg Devil's Mountain US National Security Agency Listening Station

Teufelsberg Devil’s Mountain offers a wonderful view high above Berlin. Photo #33 by Victor Bergmann

NSA Berlin Teufelsberg, 2010

This shot was taken in 2010. Another nugget of supposed wisdom of the former NSA radar dome listening station suggested that “although there was at least one severe case of secret betrayal,” U.S. units stationed at Devil’s Mountain won the ‘Travis Trophy’ twice. “This prize is awarded annually by the NSA in the military or civilian communications intelligence unit, which has provided over the years the best and most valuable services for the U.S.” Photo #34 by Neil H

Teufelsberg Devil's Mountain NSA Listening Station Alien 51 graffiti

Allegedly this place was used to listen to and to disrupt radio transmissions and similar tasks. It is believed that about 230 people worked here per shift. “Guests” who sometimes used the NSA spy complex system might have included “a detachment of the British 13th signal regiment, the CIA, the NSA and French units.” Photo #35 by Mike Brand

2011 abandoned US Listening Station tower in Teufelsberg, Berlin

At one point, around 1992, this Cold War relic was considered as the future location of a “Devil’s Mountain Resort.” This shot of the abandoned U.S. Listening Station tower in Teufelsberg, Berlin, was taken in 2011. Photo #36 by Parkinpants

Graffitti door at abandoned NSA Radar listening station

Some sources suggest that by 1954, 1,200 calls could be recorded simultaneously. There is really no way to know if such reports are true, if they are far below what was technically feasible in 1954, or if they are only feeding conspiracy theories about the super secret NSA and its former spy complex in Berlin. Photo #37 by David Rush

NSA Teufelsberg Graffit and a view

Poking around online to do research for this post, we ran across a site allegedly for former spies from NSA Teufelsberg and other intelligence units. In 1999, the site posted, “Paranoid about your privacy? Feel like you’re being watched? Guess what: you’re right. “THEY” are poking through your files, reading your email, plucking your instant messages out of thin air, and monitoring your surfing habits.” Feel better? How about this from the same site, a quoted motto: “In God we trust; all others we monitor.” Photo #38 by Victor Bergmann

Graffiti in abandoned NSA Canteen Teufelsberg

Graffiti in abandoned NSA Canteen Teufelsberg. Photo #40 by Steve.Jackson

Building on Devil's Mountain Teufelsberg abandoned NSA Listening Station

Part of the building complex on Devil’s Mountain Teufelsberg, including the five abandoned NSA Listening Station “devil domes.” Photo #41 by Axel Mauruszat

Devil's Mountain American legacy in 2006 before the abandoned station was highly vandalized

“American legacy in 2006.” The photographer noted, “Teufelsberg in Berlin, Germany. At times where Berlin was something like an island in the eastern block, the American army used this phallic thing as a listening post for all sort of radio communications.” Photo #42 by Till Krech

The aerial image depicts approximately the maximum installation on the Teufelsberg as it once was

The aerial image was described as it “depicts approximately the maximum installation on the Teufelsberg as it once was. Clearly visible is the big antenna tower that was used by the British GCHQ. Also visible are the small radomes on top of the big tower and the Arctic tower main radomes. Their usage is unclear and they have been removed when the NSA left. Also visible are some smaller antenna towers with antennas that can be guessed to be part of a shortwave directional setup.” Photo #43 by dasalte.ccc.de

Teufelsberg dome at twilight

Teufelsberg dome as it is now at twilight. We hope you enjoyed the virtual urban exploration of this Cold War relic. Please be so kind as to keep your comments decent, friendly, and unclassified because Big Brother really is listening . . . just not from the abandoned NSA Listening Station on Devil’s Mountain. ;-P Photo #44 by Matt Biddulph


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