We are waiting for an article from the area newspaper about the closing of the site and turning it over to the German government .....
(September 2, 2003)
Waiting ... waiting ..... It has arrived!
When you look in one direction from the Backoefle atop Schneeberg’s
1050-meter summit, you see a massive, modern Bundeswehr structure and adjacent
tower, which now serves a base station for cellular communications. When you
look in the other direction you see a much older triple-wing building, from
which the US Army monitored and analyzed East Bloc communications for some 40
Time has stood still on Schneeberg’s summit for the past eleven years – interrupted only by the partial restoration of the area surrounding the Backoefle, which was reopened to the public in 1996. But even back then some of the buildings on Schneeberg had already disappeared.
Unlike the Bundeswehr tower, the American buildings were continually
rebuilt and expanded over the years. The natural stone and slate that adorn
the exterior are typical architectural features for this region. The American
buildings therefore do not look out of place.
Nonetheless, the final bell has now rung for this outdated dwelling. The
antenna bridge recently vanished, and now the building (old ops) itself is
beginning to come down.
The origin of the triple-wing building remains cloudy. Some say that it dates back to the late 30s or early 40s when the German Army occupied the top of the hill and erected a wooden tower and other structures, which have long since disappeared. But other sources assert that the buildings were first built by the Americans after the war. The latter is unlikely, however, in view of the architecture.
The Americans occupied the summit of Schneeberg in May of 1945 immediately after the end of hostilities. From here they observed the troop movement of their then Soviet allies. At the beginning of the 50s the US compound was successively expanded. At the height of the Cold War some 40 soldiers under the command of a single officer were permanently stationed on the mountain. They lived in barracks below the summit where the current Bergwacht [mountain rescue] cabin is located.
The Bundeswehr also set up shop on Schneeberg next to the Americans.
In 1970 the Americans packed up and left Schneeberg. In 1975 they returned on a smaller scale to resume monitoring operations. At the end of the 70s and beginning of the 80s the compound was thoroughly renovated: new windows, new heating system, new kitchen. The temporary buildings from the 50s and 60s vanished. Even an indoor basketball court was erected. The concrete floor is still visible.
Following Operation Desert Storm, the first Iraq war, the US Army shut down
all operations on Schneeberg. Engineers removed all of the technical equipment
at the end of 1991 and the beginning of 1992. Since then the building has
remained vacant. Long-term plans call for all remaining structures right down
to the concrete and asphalt surfaces to be removed from the former US
compound. Only the fence will remain standing. In contrast to the adjacent
former Bundeswehr compound, the area within the fence will be left to develop
naturally, free of any human influence.
The entire summit of Schneeberg has been a protected nature preserve for over 60 years. This is why the buildings, which were still in very good shape when handed over by the Americans, could and cannot be put to reasonable use. It is not known if anyone ever sought to preserve the buildings for use by, for example, the Bergwacht. This would have eliminated the need to build a new structure slightly farther down the hill.
While no one would probably shed a tear if the Bundeswehr’s structural monstrosities were to come down, not everyone is glad to see the older buildings with their rich and varied history disappear.