It is a sight that many people do not want to see in their backyard: A derelict building like the one in the picture above near their backyard because it is an eyesore and a hazard. Yet such buildings and places like this one have a character of its own- a history that is unknown to the public, but when researched thoroughly, is unique and a valuable asset to the community. We’re seeing many historic buildings like this one being abandoned and eventually demolished without knowing more about them, let alone looking at options of restoring them. In the case of places of historic interest in Germany, much of the records were destroyed during World War II and in the case of the eastern half of the country (where the former German Democratic Republic or East Germany existed), they were either altered or destroyed by the Communist government, thus leaving oral histories as the lone source. But where are these sources and how can we bring these sites to light, attracting many to visit them, even restoring them if needed?
In response to a successful story on the Prora near Binz in Mecklenburg-Pommerania and a large demand for more stories of these mystery places, The Flensburg Files is now starting a page on Mystery Places in Germany, which you will find on the Files’ website, and is therefore accepting any inquiries of places of unique value but in need of the necessary information to solve their mysteries. This includes former factories, railroad stations, parks, apartment complexes, and even remnants of old motorways (just to name a few that are acceptable. The page will run parallel to the Mystery Bridge page provided by sister column The Bridgehunter’s Chronicles (which you can view here). That means, the mystery building article will be posted in the Files and forwarded to various sources who might be able to help. Follow-ups will be posted, and all information will be placed in the Files’ Mystery Places page for readers to look at.
If you have something historic that you want to know more about, please send the information to Jason Smith at the Files. The e-mail address is email@example.com. The Files is on facebook and you can also contact him through that channel. Please note all mystery bridge inquiries will be posted in the Chronicles, which is also on facebook and like the Files, you can like to follow.
Keeping this in mind, let’s have a look at the next mystery place, this time in a small community of Halle (Saale) in Saxony-Anhalt. While this city has prided itself on George Friedrich Händel, well-restored architecture, many historic bridges, a small but unique Christmas Market, a green and diverse zoo, and rows of parks along the Saale River, it also has some buildings and historic places worth inquiring about, even if they are abandoned like this building. Located south of the city center next to the Saale River between the Hafenbahn and Genzer Bridges, this building resembles a covered railroad turntable, used to redirect trains that terminated here at the starting point of the Hafenbahn. Yet the building seems a bit too small for that function, for steam locomotives were huge during the 1800s, the time the Hafenbahn existed- approximately 100-150 feet long (33-50 meters) and about 15-20feet wide (5-6 meters). It does however make sense, given its proximity to the Hafenbahn Bridge, which was once used as a railroad bridge before it became a pedestrian crossing. The question is, if this was a turntable house, when was it built and how often did trains use this facility? If it was not that facility, what was the function of the building? Judging by the roof being gone, it was most likely damaged severely in World War II and was never used again afterwards. But then again, could the Communist government afford to leave buildings like this, as it is, abandoned all the way up to the present?
What do you think? Your comments, ideas and information will help a great deal towards solving this mystery….