Bunkers fell into disrepair and air sirens were dismantled after the end of the Cold War – Germany now woke up to security gaps | Foreign countries

Bunkers fell into disrepair and air sirens were dismantled after

In Germany, there are shelters for only half a percent of the population. visited bunkers built during the Second World War, where people would like to reserve shelter.

BERLIN The subway rumbles underfoot. Labyrinth-like corridors wind between 25 corner halls, the concrete walls show holes left by old structures and wartime life.

In pitch darkness, the phosphor glow of the special paint guides movement.

This anti-aircraft shelter in Berlin’s Gesundbrunnen housed a maximum of more than 1,300 people during World War II when the Allies bombed the city.

Not everyone could sleep on the couches, but the majority either sat awkwardly on plastic chairs in rows or stood still for two days. After 48 hours had to leave for ventilation.

Bunkers became a topic of conversation again

Now underground shelters are relevant again. Many Germans fear for their safety.

During the Cold War, old bunkers were renovated in case of a full-scale nuclear war. New ones were built near subway stations, for example.

The reunification of Germany in 1990 caused a complete reversal.

– The atmosphere after the fall of the wall was that there is no more threat. It was thought that a time of peace would come both in Germany and in Europe as a whole, the research director of the Berliner Unterwelten, or Berlin Underworld Museum Reiner Janick explain.

As a result of the Russian war of aggression, the Germans wondered if war could come to Central Europe again. And if it does, what’s the best place to hide?

The cold truth is that there are no public shelters. Germany would not be able to protect its citizens if someone invaded the country.

Cities and municipalities demand investments of billions of euros in conservation measures. Along with the shortcomings of the German army, the country has also noticed shortcomings in the protection of civilians.

There are no warning sirens

According to representatives of municipalities and cities, the old civil protection system with air alarms should be reactivated. Air sirens were also dismantled after the Cold War.

– War is not just about the army being able to defend Germany. It is more generally about protecting the population from war-related dangers, deputy head of the DStGB, the association of German cities and municipalities Tim Fuchs says.

The federal government has established a special fund of one hundred billion euros for the army. The shortcomings of the Bundeswehr are regularly reported.

On top of that, according to the municipalities, the government should invest large sums of money to protect citizens in the event of an attack on their own land.

About ten billion euros would be needed for new bunkers and sirens in the coming years. The municipalities propose to the federal government a commitment to investments of one billion euros every year, so that the safety structures can be slowly restored.

– It’s not much when it comes to the protection of human lives, says Fuchs.

There are shelters for only 0.5 percent of the population

Of the 2,000 public shelters from the Cold War era, only 600 remain. They can accommodate just under half a million people. There are 84 million Germans.

After German reunification, the bunkers have been turned into warehouses, art exhibition spaces or apartments, they have been privatized or demolished or they have simply been left in their places to decay.

Berlin was the real capital of bunkers in the Second World War, research director Reiner Janick says. Now there are 23 civilian shelters in the city, compared to more than 700 in the Second World War.

In principle, the old bunkers could be returned to use again, but it would require large investments, says Janick.

There are 3.8 million Berliners and 30,000 shelters in the city. This means that less than one percent of Berliners would be able to get to safety. The rest of the townspeople would have to be evacuated.

According to Janick, the Germans have started to fear.

– People ask us if they can reserve a place for themselves in the bunkers. Of course, that’s not possible. Many privately build their own protective bunker in their own yard. A lot of business has sprung up around bunkers.