Text and Pics by Donna Tzanaeva

Beelitz Heilstätten: An abandoned WWII sanatorium

One would think that the gargantuan 60 acre sanatorium located in, and therefore conveniently named after the village “Beelitz Heilstätten”, would be set in a world of its own, far far away from any form of reality. Surprisingly enough, this perfect ‘Texas chainsaw massacre’ setting is only about an hour’s train ride away from Berlin, Germany’s capital.


The sanatorium, built in the 19th century, used to be a prestigious treating facility for wounded soldiers, its most popular patient being Adolf Hitler.


Certain of its buildings sustained damages during WWII and its operation shut down in the beginning of the year 2000.


Since its closure to the public, some of its buildings have been fenced-off, windows and doors have been nailed shut and public entry is considered trespassing.


However, its undeniable ghostly aura, unique architecture and preserved nature is attracting more and more tourists and photographers, seeking an ‘alternative-Berlin’.


The sanatorium itself that once used to be the filming grounds of the movie “The pianist” however, hides many secrets often unknown (maybe for the better!) to the general wanderer.


Wolfang Smithz, or the so called ‘Beast of Beelitz’ was a serial killer, lurking the grounds and killing numerous women before being captured in the early 90s. A young model was also viscously murdered during that period of time.


Nevertheless, the mixture of excitement yet at the same time ultimate fear is what makes exploring the grounds of Beelitz sanatorium one of its kind and entirely worth it.