Little grey ghosts
East Germany checked out before the Stasi could check in.
The country expired as the Stasi hotel was being constructed, robbing would-be guests of a place to stay and the hosts of their raison d’être. Poor buggers.
The Stasi hotel was due to open near Templin in 1991 but it was abandoned before it was completed, leaving a great hulking ruin to wither and wonder between the trees about what might have been.
Floors of nothingness stretch up to the forest canopy, eking for a peek beyond the bleak. Whining winds howl through the emptiness. Grey concrete slabs emulate the little grey men that never moved in, dead inside, eaten by rules, regulations and notepads.
Stasi secrets die hard. It has taken more than a year and a half to get any information whatsoever from the Stasi archive, and that only after persistent pestering. It’s almost as if they don’t want people to know what shit the little grey men got up to.
MfS-Ferienheim Buchheide, codenamed FH150, was to have 180 bedrooms, a swimming pool, sauna, bar, and bowling alley – all to cater for Stasi officers and their families. There were to be wired communications in every room, whether the guests wanted them or not.
Plans for the Stasi hotel also envisaged a private strand with a jetty for boats at the nearby Lübbesee lake. Here it was that officers could wash away the stresses and strains from their roles as part of East Germany’s dreaded secret police, probably the sneakiest and among the most vile that ever existed.
All that mass spying, documentation, manipulation, murder, terror and torture ain’t easy – if anyone needed a wellness break for rehabilitation, it was the soulless devils of the Ministerium für Staatsicherheit (Ministry for State Security), commonly known as Stasi.
VEB Spezialhochbau Berlin (SHB) handled construction of the planned hotel but all their efforts were for nichts. At the Stasi Archive, a mound of files as tall as a stack of pancakes on Pancake Tuesday attest to all the plans and calculations for the hotel that were effectively ruined overnight on Nov. 9, 1989.
The end of the Berlin Wall brought the whole DDR shithouse crumbling down with a joyous Trabi dash across the Bornholmer Brücke.
Meanwhile, the Stasi were too busy desperately trying to destroy incriminating files and documents to give much thought to their as yet-uncompleted hotel.
They didn’t have time to bug the place before the real bugs moved in. The beds were never made, literally, nor the rooms, nor any of the interior. Just the outside was done, the roof and expensive thermal windows from Sweden. Human leeches made off with what they could, denying the bugs any warmth they might otherwise have gathered.
The half-finished hotel, still a construction site, was bought by a Swiss consortium that went on to do absolutely nothing with it.
They probably got distracted chasing Nazi loot elsewhere. You can’t trust anyone who puts holes in their cheese.
Now the Stasi hotel doesn’t take reservations, but guests can drop by at any time for a self-service stay. It’s quite breezy, damp and cold, haunted by guiltless Stasi ghosts, but it’s cheap and – in contrast to most local hotels – there’s a pleasant lack of staff to abuse the customers.
LOCATION AND ACCESS (HOW TO FIND GUIDE)
- What: The Stasi hotel, also known as MfS-Ferienheim Buchheide, codenamed FH150.
- Where: Zur Buchheide, 17268 Templin.
- How to get there: You could get the regional train to Templin from Berlin but the train service these days is a disaster so I’m not sure I’d recommend that. You might be better off hiring a car and driving. I think at this stage it’s safe to say we’re all doomed anyway. And the only authentic way to get here is with a Trabi. It’s the only authentic way left to get anywhere.
Here it is on a map.
- Getting in: Follow the road toward the lake, past the small gardens on your left, and you’ll come across a wide-open gate on your right. Come on in, guests are welcome! There’s a fence around the Stasi hotel but it’s as effective as the Berlin Wall is these days, trampled down and broken in many places.
Though the photos you see are from 2020, the info here is from the last visit in July 2022 and the condition of the hotel hadn’t changed in the meantime.
- When to go: Any time is good. There are no peak seasons. Check out Vogelsang while you’re in the area.
- Difficulty rating: 5/10 Getting here is the main obstacle.
- Who to bring: Bring your friends for a party.
- What to bring: Beer, wine, mezcal and a piñata. Bring mozzie spray unless you want to invite them too.
- Dangers: Stasi mosquitoes. These are worse than regular mosquitoes as they’re more persistent and annoying. Watch out for Nazis – there were a few swastikas scrawled around the place. Watch out for the Polizei, too. They don’t like people having a good time either. And of course, watch out for the little grey ghosts.
The Stasi files
Haus der Statistik looms over Berlin’s Alexanderplatz with STOP WARS across its bow in big red letters. The DDR’s former statistics HQ is right to be angry.
The Stasi spy station Quelle 1 in Rhinow tapped fiber cable going from West Berlin 250km across the DDR to enemy state West Germany. Sneaky.
Schloß Dammsmühle was a playground for more unsavory types than you could shake a stick at, from Nazis to Stasi officers. Now there are plans to revive it.