“During my time in the 78th, I felt like I was doing an important job with a large number of very bright young men. We certainly did not like the Mickey Mouse Army stuff, but my memory is that we really tried to do our best on the job.”
This is a quote from one of the guys on a Yahoo list I belong to. But his sentiment pretty much sums up the feelings of those involved in the actual operations on Teufelsberg. All we had to do was put on our headsets to know how critical our mission was in the cold war. We listened in on the actual conversations of the highest leaders in East Germany’s Central Committee, all the way up to and including Walter Ulbricht, the general secretary, or leader, of the German Democratic Republic from 1950 to 1971. There are those who have postulated that the work done on that isolated rubble pile in Berlin played a significant role in bringing down the wall and ending communist rule in Germany.
All we had to do was get past the “Mickey Mouse Army stuff” that often hindered our ability to do our jobs. The attitudes of the treads who supervised us was “Screw the mission, clean your position.”
This is pretty much how the installation atop the rubble pile looked when I arrived in Berlin in 1967. While McCurry’s War is a novel, the description of the activities carried out in the buildings around this dome are pretty accurate. The guard shack in the center is the site where the gator captain tried to get at McCurry for not adhering to the rules of the war games being played in the Grunewald, the forest surrounding Teufelsberg.
Only a few years before my arrival, guys worked out of mobile units while the installation was being built. The picture below shows what it looked like before being abandoned and dismantled in 1990.
And below is a view of it today.