These so-called “Hochbunker” or “Spitzbunker” (Eng: “Tallbunker” or “Peakbunker”) towers were developed specifically as air raid shelters by German Architect Leo Winkel. The idea for this construction was patented as early as September 1934 and the first tests were done at the Luftwaffe Test Center in Rechlin, Germany in the beginning of 1936. The towers withstood the tests to the full satisfaction of the German Army and Winkel was awarded with a contract. In 1937 the first non-test version Winkelturm was built in Duisburg. Winkel eventually designed up to 16 different types of construction. The largest types could hold up to 600 people.
While many of these towers were constructed near populated areas to serve their purpose, they soon got nicknamed “Betonzigarre” (Eng: “concrete cigars”) because of their awkward looking shape. But it was thanks to this design that the towers proved to be very effective. The idea was that the tall, pointy and slender construction would make it a hard target to hit and if it would then the bomb would slide off the sloped sides keeping it from detonating, at least until it reached the ground, where it’s walls were at it’s thickest. In it’s track record, there are only two known cases where a Winkel tower was hit and breached. One of them was during an American bomb raid on oktober 1944 on Bremen Hemelingen, killing 5 and another in Duisberg.
The Winkel towers of former Truppenlager Zossen
Between 1938 and 1941 in the area Wünsdorf-Zossen of the OKH and OKW (German Army Supreme Headquarters) a total of 19 of these type 2 towers (see picture above) were built in the vicinity of different Military personnel and civilian premises. There are stories that these towers provided an entrance to the vast underground complex of both headquarters (Maybach I and II) and the communications bunker, but these are unconfirmed. The construction of the towers began in the northern section.
Every tower had it’s own appointed Air Raid Commander or responsible civilian who was in charge. During the heavy bombing raid of March 15th 1945, largely destroying the Maybach II complex, none of the towers were hit. It was only after the war that 11 of the towers were demolished. The rest of them remain until this day as protected monuments.
A total of almost 200 of these Winkelturme (Eng: towers) were built until the end of the war. Most of the surviving ones have been marked as a protected monument.
Many of these Spitzbunker can be seen in the Wünsdorf-Zossen area (see pictures below). Most of the towers can be admired from the outside, but there is one that is open to the public so you can take a look inside. For more info visit the office at the Zehrensdorfer Straße 12 in Zossen, from where they also provide guided tours to the Maybach I and Zeppelin bunker complex.