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Dreadful Nonsense

"I've read your blog. it's really funny. you should write a column." - Jon Ronson


We had a list of things we wanted to do while in Berlin, having both spent endless lunch hours at work trawling through search engines and various tourist recommendation websites, as well as getting hints and tips from friends. It is absolutely astonishing that, until we turned up at the museum, completely coincidentally just in time to join the last jaunt around the nuclear bunker, that neither of us had heard of this tour.

Being in a nuclear bunker, an actual nuclear bunker, a nuclear bunker designed to withstand nuclear attack, not just something mocked up to look like a nuclear bunker but your actual nuclear bunker, a bunker that is still fully functional and would still be used in the (hopefully) unlikely event that Berlin is bombed, is quite a surreal experience.

The rows and rows and rows of beds can’t be described, and these photographs don’t do justice to the full horror that the people in the bunker would experience during their 2 week stay in the bunker. I can’t remember the stats and figures now, but thousands of people would be staying here, all sleeping four people piled on top of each other, surrounded by thick walls of concrete. The heat would be unbearable. The noise and the smell would also be overwhelming.

The atmosphere of the brief tour was also added to by the fact that our tour guide didn’t seem to speak any English words outside of the actual tour he was giving. If he was interrupted at all, or if he lost himself in the middle of a sentence, he would go back to the beginning of the sentence (or even the beginning of the paragraph he had obviously learned by rote) and would start again. His intonation was very factual and unemotional. It was jut brilliant, his under whelmed, almost bored sounding delivery set off quite nicely by the frankly awe-inspiring surroundings.

Television sets were also hung sparsely around the bunker, showing old 1950s films that were used to train soldiers in the event of nuclear war. One part showed a soldier being told to work out the direction of the wind, and then to shelter underneath a tree, to allow the nuclear fall out to harmlessly blow past him. Other sections were incredibly gruesome, with rotting corpses and bodies being blown to smithereens. I couldn’t decide, having seen it, if I would prefer to take my chances above ground or opt for what would possibly be a 2 week stay in an actual hell on earth. I think your survival instincts would have to be incredibly strong.


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