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On top of Devil's Mountain

On Top of Devil's Mountain

Long before the National Security Agency drew outrage in Germany over revelations of mass surveillance, residents of West Berlin went about their days knowing that the agency and other American military services had their antennas tuned in to many of the conversations carried out in the city and for miles beyond, the New York Times reports.

But in the black-and-white geopolitics of the Cold War, there were few doubts that spying on the Warsaw Pact powers from Field Station Berlin - deep within East German territory - was necessary to keep West Berlin free and safe.

Now, more than two decades after the United States pulled up its final cables from the site, the ruins of the complex still hold a mystical attraction for history buffs, artists and tourists.

Teufelsberg, or Devil's Mountain, includes an abandoned Cold War NSA listening post in Berlin that has evolved into a de facto art installation. Everyone who worked there simply called it 'the hill,' and there's still something a little otherworldly about it.

It's an artificial mountain built of the rubble from WWII in Berlin. For 22 years, up to 100 trucks came out every working day and dumped the rubble. Then, a listening station was built on top of the hill.

The gleaming white domes were once crammed with some of the most sophisticated surveillance
equipment in the world.

Now, it's a place where history, decay and art mingle to create one of Berlin's most unique places.

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Margaret February 17 2014 at 5:55 PM

Check out http://rayscoldwarberlinblog.com In this blog, Ray Adams, who served on top of Teufelsberg in the 1960's, talks about listening to Russian soldiers and other topics. One blog series is called: Return to Teufelsberg: The Devil's Rear End. This has a lot of interesting Cold War stuff and there are over 100 blogs.

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rmcarmany February 16 2014 at 8:01 PM

I was stationed at "The Hill" from 1970-1972. It was never directly operated by the NSA but rather the US Army Security Agency and, as such it was a military installation. The intercepts were pulled hourly from the phone traffic and from military units. They were then either transcribed word-for word or, in the case of phone traffic, a gist of the conversations was prepared. It was all done in real time. The intelligence was send back to the NSA with sometimes less than an hour's delay. The New York Times was only partly correct.

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rfgin February 16 2014 at 7:38 PM

I worked there in 1967-1968 while I was in the U.S. Air Force. We listened to Russian fighter planes and bombers make practice runs over Berlin. The United States was only allowed to have cargo planes and helicopters in West Berlin. We listened to the Warsaw Pact, led by the Soviets, invade Czeckoslovakia in August, 1968. We lived at Templehof Airport which was half military and half civilian. You could see the imprint of a huge swastika which once hung from the facade of Templehof, and many of the buildings in Berlin were still pock marked from the fighting during WWII. I'll never forget seeing East German soldiers armed with machine guns in wooden watchtowers overlooking the Berlin Wall, while children were playing underneath them. I became friends with a West German family named Grosskopf who invited me to spend their Christmas with them. The West Germans loved the Americans!

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Dominic February 16 2014 at 6:54 PM

Didn't Reagan help kick the Russians out of Afghanistan, so that now we can spend 2 billion a week, and lose so many of our warriors. Thanks Ronnie.

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ga7smi February 16 2014 at 8:03 PM

yep - Reagan's Freedom Fighters are now called Taliban

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cgcpurple65 February 16 2014 at 8:24 PM

Why blame Ronnie? It's Bush and his cronies who got us in there because they were too stupid to read the history lessons Russia and Britain learned--you can't beat the Afghans in their own country.

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Dominic February 16 2014 at 9:23 PM

Your right. But Russia as it turns out, is the enemy of our enemy. That makes us allies. If Ronnie let the Russians be, we wouldn't have to be there today. And the Taliban wouldn't be attacking us. They would be after Putin and company.

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liquidwallpaper February 16 2014 at 6:36 PM

Even after all the money spent on spying when the iron curtain was up, And Reagan spent billions on Stars wars programs that made the soviet union spend more on research to counter the US move. It all was a big waste. Russia now moves back towards a dictatorship/ultra socialist country led by Putin and a few very wealthy criminals. They cannot be trusted , never were and never will be a country to do business with.

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rockymtnal February 16 2014 at 6:50 PM

The difference is, Russia is no longer the threat they once were. As for waste...well, I wouldn't call it that at all. Just because your house never gets burglarized, does it mean the money spent on locks was wasted? The infrastructure necessary to support the US forces stationed in western Europe for those 50 or so years was tremendous...probably amounting to hundreds of billions of dollars, if not more. Housing, air fields, barracks, hospitals, support facilities, ammunition storage areas. And I, for one, am glad they're no longer needed.

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Dominic February 16 2014 at 9:25 PM

Russia really wasn't a threat to us. If we had just minded our own business, the free enterprise system would have won out without our military. The real threat is radical islam.

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Fallenrock February 16 2014 at 10:02 PM

yeah...it all falls under the "Oh what a tangled web we weave" category...it's amazing how much money we can all save by just being honest with each other. (Note: I didn't say trusting, just honest).

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cnmcnm February 16 2014 at 6:10 PM

Holy Moley 2 - 1

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davidpegasus482 February 16 2014 at 6:05 PM

Nothing good came out of Reagan

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rockymtnal February 16 2014 at 6:58 PM

Yup. No recovery from the Carter legacy of stagflation, recession, double-digit inflation, and the highest interest rates in history. No rebuilding of the US military from the empty shell it became after Vietnam. The Berlin Wall never came down, there was no breakup of the USSR, and, of course, the Iran hostages never came home. Hmmm...no, nothing good came out of the Reagan Administration, I guess.

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dlcox56 February 16 2014 at 10:49 PM

And never once did he blame Carter for the mess he inherited...

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ZACK February 16 2014 at 7:11 PM

if I had wanted to hear from an arse hole, I would have farted......

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YourFtr February 16 2014 at 6:00 PM

It was Reagan who finally got the Commies to 'Tear Down This wall';
after years of hand-wringing and bed-wetting
by the Liberal Democrats.

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YourFtr February 16 2014 at 5:57 PM

The Berlin wall was put up by the Commies; so that everyine wouldn't flee to the
west from East Berlin and East Germany.

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kingofswords72 February 16 2014 at 6:25 PM

When they first erected the Berlin Wall people from East Germany would jump from tall buildings overlooking the wall to try to get to freedom, some made it alive, some didn't.

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thelightdragonstephen February 17 2014 at 8:53 AM

Wow... you have to give it to the Jewish and the blacks doing that sort of thing to get their freedom. Hats off to them!

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YourFtr February 16 2014 at 5:55 PM

adolf had built some 'Forts' near Berlin which were artillery emplacements.
Made with reinforced concrete and anti-aircraft positions...
They were considered to be artillery and air-bombardment proof....
They were hunongous and had garrisons of thousands with ammunition machinery
like battleships. They were almost assault-proof.
The allies didn't want anything glorifying the Nazis remaining; so when the forts finally
fell; they were covered with mounds of dirt; so that nobody knew what they were......

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