In the late 1890's, the German Order of St. John decided to start building a sanatorium for lung diseases.
The southern slope of a summit in the Harz Mountains was chosen as a building site and in 1902, the first patients were admitted. The building was massive. The walls were built of granite three stories high, and next to the comfortable rooms, the patients had a conservatory, a library and a variety of lounges and day rooms at their disposal. In 1903, a residence for the chief physician and a farm building were constructed on the premises, and in 1906, the hospital was connected to the newly built electrical plant south of the hospital via overhead power lines. At the same time, the capacity was raised from 60 beds to 72.
As early as 1909, the first X-Ray- and a pneumothorax-apparatus were bought for the hospital, making it a state-of-the-art facility.
In 1926, the originally leased area was bought by the order and a plan for a substantial expansion was approved. The main building received a large extension on its western side, making room for 45 more patients. The treatment rooms in the old building had become too small and were substituted by modern operating rooms in the new building that was opened in 1927. The sanatorium for "light" lung deseases had become a modern lung hospital with 130 beds.
After expanding to 130 beds in 1927, 35 more followed in 1930, and in 1938, the final expansion to 180 beds was completed.
The sanatorium was continuously running during World War II.
In 1951, the last lung operations were conducted at the facility, and due to better hygienic conditions the number of patients decreased until in 1967, the church of Saxony was informed that the sanatorium had to be closed instantly, so on Dec. 31st, 1967, the facility closed forever...
...until in 1968, the East German NVA ("National People's Army") took over and used the building as a recreation facility for all ranks of the army.
In fact, it was rumored that the patients weren't there for their health at all, but rather indulged in laziness, so the clinic was silently nicknamed "Sloth Farm" by the people in Eastern Germany.
After the German reunification in 1990, the property situation remained unclear and the building started to decay.
From 2012 until 2019, a caretaker lived on the premises. He had a pack of Greenland Dogs, the largest pack of its kind in the world, and he took them to sled dog races around the planet. Over the years, he set up a camp for photographers, sleigh dog mushers and tourists. He died under tragic circumstances in April of 2019, and it is unclear what's to become of the place.
Photos in the first gallery are from October 31, 2013.
On April 20, 2019, one of my best friends was taken from us without warning.
I first met Jens back in 2013 on a spontaneous visit to "his" abandoned sanatorium - a lonely place on top of a mountain where he had chosen to live with his pack of sleigh dogs. He offered us coffee, showed us the place and told stories. The little time we had just flew by. This first meeting was special. We had immediately connected on a really cool level, and my wife and I only reluctantly left that evening. We returned a few months later, and then again...and again. Over the years, a real friendship developed. Jens and "his" mountain became the place for us to be grounded, to meet new people, learn new things - and have barbecue ;)
We felt at home there, and Jens was the reason for that.
I still can't believe that he is gone and that I won't see him anymore walking quickly over his premises, feeding his dogs, riding the sleigh or building something new.
What remains are the great memories of adventure, of long talks by the campfire at night, the hunts for trespassers trying to jump the fence and of surprising visits to cool places that nobody else knew of.
And what will remain are the friendships that developed with the people we met on the mountain. That is Jens' legacy - he brought people together. People of different ages, religions, political views. People that came because of the dogs, people that came because of the sanatorium - in the end everyone came for Jens and for all the things that made this place so unique.
Thank you, Jens, for your friendship.
Thank you for everything you gave us!
We'll meet again by the great campfire in the sky!!!
Gallery Update: Photos taken on July 5, 2014
Gallery Update: Photos taken on Aug. 20, 2016
Gallery Update: Photos taken on November 25, 2016
Gallery Update: Photos taken on October 1, 2017
Gallery Update: Photos taken on October 3, 2017