The Grabowsee sanatorium is a former lung sanatorium north of Berlin in the German state of Brandenburg. It was the first sanatorium for pulmonary tuberculosis in the North German lowlands and was founded in 1896 by the German Red Cross to test whether sanatorium cures in the Brandenburg pine forest were just as successful as in the mountains and by the sea. After World War II, it served as a military hospital from 1945 until the Soviet Army left Germany in 1992. After that, the complex became a popular backdrop for films and photographs, but also for vandals.
In the second half of the 19th century, the number of lung patients in the German Reich rose drastically. About a third of all patients between the ages of 15 and 60 suffered from pulmonary tuberculosis. The Red Cross's "People's Health Resorts Association" (Volksheilstättenverein) acquired an area in what was then Mark Brandenburg on the shore of Lake Grabow and initially had 27 barracks built there in order to research whether the air in the North German Plain could also be successfully used to treat lung diseases.
Until then, doctors assumed that diseases of the lungs could only be improved or healed in the mild Mediterranean climate or in the pure mountain air.
The test was extremely successful, so that by 1896 the first sanatorium for lungs in northern Germany could start work with permanent buildings. n 1900 there were already 200 beds available for people with mild to severe illnesses, there were patient houses, operating theatres, treatment rooms, lying halls as well as a director's villa, a machine house, stables, official apartments and a gas plant to supply energy. An underground transport system was soon added, which transported the food from the central kitchen to the wards. Shortly before the outbreak of the First World War, the facility had 400 beds for the sick. In the first few years however, only men were admitted.
During the war, the sanatorium at Grabowsee served as a Red Cross hospital for the treatment of soldiers with lung disease. Prisoners of war were also housed here until 1918.
The war and the time of inflation brought the sanatorium into great economic hardship. The Volksheilstättenverein therefore sold the institution on June 1, 1920 to the State Insurance Institution Brandenburg. From 1926, extensions were built, so that the number of existing beds increased to around 420 by the 1930s.
Due to the discovery of antibiotics and their use in Germany from 1943, tuberculosis became curable more quickly. Long hospital stays were no longer necessary and many sanatoriums became superfluous. After the Second World War, as a result of the Potsdam Agreement, the region Mark Brandenburg fell into the Soviet occupation zone and with it the former lung sanatorium Grabowsee. The occupying forces used the entire complex as a military hospital from mid-1945 until their withdrawal in 1992. All the doctors and nurses came from the Soviet Union, but GDR citizens were also used for a great deal of unskilled work.
Most of the facilities were only poorly maintained; in the long term they were run down. After the withdrawal of the Russian armed forces from the former sanatorium complex, a new use did not seem possible without enormous expense. Immediately after the occupation troops withdrew, the building complex came into the ownership of a (unspecified) financial company.
A concrete long-term use was not planned. On the other hand, the finance company rented large parts of the facility to a paintball game community, which caused great damage to most of the buildings with their wild war games. Further destruction was caused by illegal graffiti sprayers.
The ensemble has fallen into disrepair and has been plagued by vandals and metal thieves in recent years. Since 2005 the association "Kids Globe e. V." takes care of the remaining 30 ruinous buildings, 15 of which have been places under monument protection since the end of the 20th century. The association won former German president Roman Herzog as the first patron for the project of an educational facility for children and young people, which wants to present both the immediate history of the sanatorium and the eventful history of Oranienburg (for example the local proximity to the Sachsenhausen concentration camp). The association's activities span the fields of art, crafts, music, agriculture, entrepreneurship and research. For this, Kids Globe has to buy the site from the owner, a Berlin businessman, for around ten million euros and transfer it into a foundation. The further complete renovation is estimated at 40-50 million euros.
In 2007, the chapel fell victim to an arson attack. In 2013, the first (educational) events with young people took place on the site. A trained landscape gardener, manages the site for the association and is entrusted with accompanying potential visitors.
The site was frequently used as a backdrop for film and photo shoots from the 2000s onwards. In 2011, the Artbase, an art and music festival, was held on the site. In 2013, the site served as a filming location for the film Monuments Men, which recreated the rescue of art treasures by a US special forces unit at the end of World War II. and in 2017 for the film Heilstätten, set in the Beelitz Heilstätten. The video Judged by by Euzen was filmed on the premises.
Visited: August 15, 2019
Location: Grabowsee, Germany