Table of Contents
History of the Humboltshain Flak Tower
After the bombing of Berlin by the English RAF in 1940 Adolf Hitler ordered the construction of 6 massive Flak Towers or FlakTurms in German to protect the city for future air assaults. Three Flak Towers were actually build, the other three were never constructed. One Flakturm was build near the Berlin Zoo, one in the Friedrichshain park and the third was build in the Humboltshain park, this is why some refer to it als Flakturm III Humboltshain. The massive Flak Tower and his Fire Control tower were build from October 1941 until April 1942. The short construction time was realised with use of forced labourers and foreign labourers, in total about 3200 men strong. These men worked in shifts and the work went on for 24 hours a day.
The Flakturm Humboltshain
Flakturm Humboltshain is a 1st generation G – tower. The ‘G’ indicated Gefechtsturm or Combat tower. Its measurements are 70,5 by 70,5 metres, and 39 meters high. The walls were 3,5 metres thick and the roof was 5 metres thick, all reinforced concrete. The inside was used as bomb shelter, ammunition storage, first aid station and such. On the lower floors some 10.000 or more civilians could take shelter from allied bombardments and were armed with a variety of anti aircraft guns. The Flak towers of the 1st generation ‘G’ type were usually armed with numerous 37mm anti aircraft guns Flak 37, eight quadruple 20 mm guns, named Flakvierling or Flak 38, and four massive twin 128 mm Flak 40 guns. With all of its guns the tower could reach a gun speed of 8000 shots a minute with an average range of 14 kilometres. The Flak Tower was controlled by the TurmFlakAbteilung 132 which part of the 1st Flak Division.
The strangest feature of these towers is that they have windows, which doesn’t sound like a good plan if used as bomb shelter. During World War Two these openings were sealed off with bricks or iron shutters. The windows came from a long term view on the Flaktower. After the war the bunkers should have a more civilian use, decorated with Nazi symbols and eagles and were to be used as office or living quarters in the new town of Germania. Germania was Hitler’s dream to recreate a new Berlin according to his vision, this metropolis would be named ‘Germania’.
When the Russian army entered Berlin and closed in on these Flakturms they discovered that even their biggest guns, the 152mm assault guns, had little effort against these huge fortresses. On the other hand when the Flakturm lowered it’s Flak guns on the Russians troops they could muster a huge firepower.
The ‘L’ tower.
The L-Tower or Leitturm was a fire control bunker constructed near the Flakturm. The building was 23 by 50 metres and it had a Wurzburg Riese radar station on top to locate enemy bomber formations and send the information to the guns of the Flakturm. Next to the Wurzburg Riese it had multiple 20 mm Flak guns on its Schwalbennestern, the parapet on the bunker.
Flakturm Humboltshain and its Leitturm today
After the war the Flakturm was partially demolished by French Troops. They blasted the tower in 1948 on multiple occasions but a big part still remains because they did not want to damage the railroad nearby. The demolished part of the Flakturm was covered with its own debris and the debris from the the Leitturm, it is now part of the park. From the Leitturm only a few walls remain. The Flakturm is now used as panorama viewpoint, as climbing wall and you can take a 90 minute tour inside the Flak Tower.
Visiting the Flakturm in Humboltshain is pretty easy. You just enter the park and walk up to the tower. There is no elevator though and disabled can find it a big climb. If you would like to see the inside of the Flak Tower you will have make an appointment with the ‘Berliner Unterwelten’.