A small door to the stairs of the Ubahn Gesundbrunnen opens up to a dim and suffocating, stench of death , despair and fear world.
Not a window, as if hope has been left there beyond the narrow entrance in which an aseptic and empty world takes us back in time. The city was razed to the ground , the targets became the civilians, bomb alarms sound, you sleep with your bags packed by the door. You have to be quick to react and run to the shelter, where the light does not exist but you are saved for 2 hours, two very long hours in which to wait for the green light and go outdoors. And maybe to find out that your home has become a pile of rubble.
An underground world, used as public transport warehouses until a few years ago, today is revealed and made walkable for tourists ready to live cramped moments of ominous history.
It narrates of war and of courageous women, whose task was to prepare the children, teaching them the rules of the game of war, and making this to appear as a methodical and routine game.
The war was the norm, death a possibility, the race the only way to salvation.
A board game whose stations are bunkers and the pawn must escape from the bombs that explode, introducing the child to that horrible game of real death in which you find shelter underground, isolated from events that within minutes make you lose everything.
How do you explain to a little one what is war? How do you explain that you have to run in the middle of the night taking with him only a puppet and the briefcase with documents and maybe wearing pajamas? How do you explain to your child that he must wear a gas mask as if he were a space alien?
The claustrophobia , of which I suffer , for the first few minutes takes the air from me. I am closed under ground . In front of me the toilets , of those without tubes but with sand at the bottom , a hand crank that opens and closes the table.
A toilet next to another, without a booth, they seem exhibits out of a museum put together there at the mercy of the curious tourist, designed to explain the workings in general of the toilets in the women’s section .
But the first horror is shown among those toilets , that if there are no pipes for the passage of water or dividers, it is because they were designed like this, to prevent further suicides in that one private place between concrete rooms where intimacy was to be shared with other 1300 people.
I do not see toilets anymore . I see blood and broken mirrors , women desperate to the point of wanting to leave that world in distruction outside so much so that the hope to get out alive , perhaps , no longer exists.
There is no air , the stairs that continue to go down in the darkness disturb me . A silent descent into hell , which you do not know the purpose of nor the path , and I let myself be dragged through the halls that make me forget what time it is , and also that in Berlin today is sunny.
I see them sitting facing each other, without saying a word or passing the time waiting to once again cross the threshold of that cage without light .
Isolated from bombs and destruction, witnessing powerless in a world , their own , now collapsed by 80 % . And then , when all seemed lost by now , the bombs out there ceased , and what remains is a city bent whose magnitude, which in Hitler’s plans was to excel as Germany, was instead reduced to rubble.
And the same women themselves , whose role was to educate the children of the war game, with a meticulous selection process , picking up brick by brick to rebuild what had been demolished.
And so they change direction , imparting the rules of reconstruction and teaching how to find solutions despite the hunger and the lack of resources .
And defused bombs become stoves , the helmets colander, the bullets seals . Brick by brick Berlin is rebuilt .
Concrete blocks above . Concrete blocks below. This is Berlin today.
A hard story , that for the umpteenth time instead of burying under the sand, tells its visitors the horrors of the past by opening the doors of its dark worlds .
For more information on guided visits the official site is : Berliner Unterwelten
Cost of the tour per person : € 10
Office to purchase tickets ( you can not book in advance so I recommend to arrive 1 hour before the tour even before in high season ) : UBahn Gesundbrunnen