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The Phantom Sanatorium, Hitler's Hospital

Rusty railings, vine-covered buildings, collapsing roofs, and empty corridors with walls covered in graffiti and slowly peeling paint are what remains of the gigantic Beelitz-Heilstätten sanatorium. Beelitz was built in the late 19th century to help rehabilitate the growing number of tuberculosis patients in the expanding city of Berlin. During the Great War, Beelitz-Heilstätten was turned into a military hospital and was where a young Adolf Hitler was treated for a thigh injury from a grenade blast during the Battle of the Somme in 1916.

Hitler was not the only dictator to recuperate at Beelitz-Heilstätten. In 1990 GDR leader Erich Honecker received treatment for liver cancer and after he was deposed following the fall of East Germany, he used Beelitz-Heilstätten as his starting point in his flight to Russia to escape prosecution. Beelitz-Heilstätten remains serene and eminently peaceful…in spite of its past.

Cool fact: The complex was used as a movie set for Roman Polanski’s Oscar winner ‘The Pianist’ and the 2008 film ‘Valkyrie’ starring Tom Cruise.

Image by: RonAzevedo

The years 1989 to 1990 brought terror to the women living in the area as a serial killer began to murder workers of Beelitz and residents of the area. He became known as Die Bestie von Beelitz (The Beast of Beelitz). The killer often left his own left pink lingerie on the corpse, and sometimes used it to strangle or gag the victims while they were raped. In March of 1990 one of the most heinous of his crimes was committed…a wife of one of the senior physicians at the hospital was taking her infant son on a stroll through the forest when the killer grabbed the child and crushed his head on a tree. The screaming mother was gagged with a brassiere and strangled. In August of 1990 two joggers were attacked by the killer, however one was able to overpower the man and take him to the police. He was identified as Wolfgang Schmidt, and given a 15 year sentence in prison and detention in a psychiatric hospital. A movie about the killer was released in 2008, named Der Rosa Riese (The Pink Giant – in reference to his trademark lingerie).

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