The abandoned military facility known as the Forbidden City sits behind a hefty padlocked gate in the quiet neighborhood of Wünsdorf. The city of Wünsdorf is located 40 kilometers (almost 25 miles) south of Berlin.
Wunsdorf was the biggest Soviet military camp outside the USSR. But it also had shops, schools and leisure facilities and train station with daily trains going to the Soviet capital. Wunsdorf had a population of 60.000 people, 50.000 of them were soldiers. Soviet Marshal Georgy Zhukov made it his headquarters and the Soviet High Command remained here until their complete withdrawal in 1994. It’s abandoned now, mostly forgotten and discarded.
The town of Wünsdorf appeared in 1874 after the unification of the two villages of Nächst-Wünsdorf and Fern-Wünsdorf. The Wünsdorf train station opened in 1897 and by 1910 there were quite a few army barracks in Wünsdorf with population about 600 people.
With the construction of railway line, the whole area began to gain strategic significance and by the time the First World War kicked off in 1914, the 60,000-acre complex had become Europe’s largest military base. By 1935, Wünsdor became the headquarters of the Wehrmacht, the unified armed forces of Nazi Germany. The German forces abandoned the facility as Russian troops bore down on Berlin in 1945, and for decades it would become the nerve centre of the Soviet operation in East Germany.
Wunsdorf became a Soviet city in Germany and a forbidden city for the Germans. Locals were moved out and the area became restricted, all roads into the city were closed to traffic. From Wünsdorf, the Soviets provided their East German counterparts with military backing to secure the 155-kilometer border around West Berlin.
After the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989, the reunification of Germany and the dissolution of the Soviet Union, the Russian soldiers were called back home. Families left in such a hurry they couldn’t take everything. Houses were full of domestic appliances. Wunsdorf has been empty since the last remaining Russian soldiers left it many years ago. In 2015 the Wunsdorf went on sale for a price estimated to be around £3million, with the vendor demanding a guarantee that the buyer restores Wünsdorf back to its former glory.