*take nothing for granted!
Unless otherwise indicated all photos © Richard McKie 2005 - 2015

Who is Online

We have 77 guests and no members online

Translate to another language

Remnants of War

When walking in the park (Volkspark) in Friedrichshain with Guido's aunt she pointed out the hill that dominates the landscape and told me that it was built from the rubble left by allied bombing.  She added that that place was chosen in order to bury a 'flak tower'.

On the flight over I had been reading Joseph Kanon's Leaving Berlin set after the War. Then Emily leant me Ken Follet's Winter of the World - not as well written but well researched and much more voluminous.  So this reference to Flak Towers sparked my interest.  Why would anyone bury a tower - why not just knock it down?  Ken Follet told me that Berliner's loved them.  They provided shelter and their guns told them that someone was fighting back against the waves of bombers that were trying to annihilate them.

So I did a bit of research.  At the beginning of the Second World War the Third Reich did not believe in defence. Expenditure on defensive infrastructure detracted from the war effort and was often ineffective, so their slogan was:  'The best means of defence is attack'.  They wanted to avoid at all costs the defensive stalemates of the First World War.  But when against all their assurances Berlin came under attack from British bombers in 1940 they reluctantly and very rapidly constructed huge castle like structures called Flaktürme (Flak Towers). 

They were built in pairs. The Gefechtsturm (the battle tower) was the gun tower and the largest. The smaller Leitturm (search tower) coordinated the defence.  Berlin had three pairs.  There were also three in Vienna, two Hamburg and others in Frankfurt and Stuttgart.

The word 'Turm' in German can mean 'tower' as in English.  But it can also refer to a 'castle'.  While the Leitturm resembled  a substantially built water tower, the Gefechtsturm (G-tower) was a huge square thirteen story building half the size of a city block with outer walls 3.5 m (11 feet) thick ferro-concrete that looked more like a big castle.  At each corner was a cylindrical tower containing a helical access stairway and each was topped with 128 mm (5.0 in) anti-aircraft guns firing explosive shells (producing flak).  In addition, each tower had numerous rapid-firing 50mm guns for defence against low flying aircraft and attack on the towers themselves. 

 

Zoo Flak Tower
source: http://theelephantgate.weebly.com/the-war-comes-to-the-zoo.html

 

Allied bombs couldn't penetrate the towers and they acted as local air raid shelters for women and children and men over 70 years old.  Men of fighting age were excluded.  They also contained an emergency hospital.

So it turned out to be very difficult to remove them, particularly the Gefechtsturm.  Towers in Hamburg, Vienna  and Stuttgart have been repurposed but in Berlin they had been points of last resistance to the Russian invasion and their popularity with Berliners meant that they had to go.  They were located in a triangle around the city. One at the Zoo; one at Friedrichshain and the third at Humboldthain.  The only one to be fully demolished was at the Zoo in the British sector.

The French tried blowing up the Gefechtsturm at Humboldthain but success was illusive because of collateral damage to nearby railway tracks.  The Russians were similarly unsuccessful at Friedrichshain in the Soviet sector. So the next best solution was to bury the recalcitrant monsters.  Thus women, of which there were many more than men, the men being prisoners or dead, were put to work, carrying rubble from the city to cover the remaining towers.  Hence Mont Klamott (Rubble Mountain) in Volkspark Friedrichshain.

I want to stay with the Flak towers for just a little longer because when I was looking at photographs of them I saw something that didn't make sense to me.  There on the cover of LIFE magazine was a picture of US military women posing with a radar dish that was obviously operating in the microwave band. 

 

Radar dish
source: http://theelephantgate.weebly.com/the-war-comes-to-the-zoo.html

 

How could that be?  Surely microwave radar was an allied military secret along with proximity fuses?  Yet these flak towers clearly had microwave radar controlled guns.

 

Add comment


Security code
Refresh


    Have you read this???     -  this content changes with each opening of a menu item


Travel

Japan

 

 

 

 

In the second week of May 2017 our small group of habitual fellow travellers Craig and Sonia; Wendy and I; took a package introductory tour: Discover Japan 2017 visiting: Narita; Tokyo; Yokohama; Atami; Toyohashi; Kyoto; and Osaka.  

Read more ...

Fiction, Recollections & News

Preface - The Craft

 

 

A Note about Witches

In fairy-tales, witches always wear silly black hats and black cloaks, and they ride on broomsticks.
But this is not a fairy-tale.  This is about real WITCHES
REAL WITCHES dress in ordinary clothes and look very much like ordinary women.
They live in ordinary houses and they work in ORDINARY JOBS.
That is why they are so hard to catch.

Roald Dahl - The Witches

 

The Craft is an e-novel about Witchcraft in a future setting.  It's a prequel to The Cloud, set initially at the turn of 2069-2070 after The Great Famine.

It has adult content.  

As with all fiction on this Website stories evolve from time-to-time.   Unlike printed books that have distinct editions, these stories morph and twist so that returning to them after a period may provide a new experience.

Click here to Read more...

 

 

 

Opinions and Philosophy

Jihad

  

 

In my novella The Cloud I have given one of the characters an opinion about 'goodness' in which he dismisses 'original sin' as a cause of evil and suffering and proposes instead 'original goodness'.

Most sane people want to 'do good', in other words to follow that ethical system they were taught at their proverbial 'mother's knee' (all those family and extended influences that form our childhood world view).

That's the reason we now have jihadists raging, seemingly out of control, across areas of Syria and Iraq and threatening the entire Middle East with their version of 'goodness'. 

Read more ...

Terms of Use                                           Copyright