The fall of Berlin, 1945, part 6/X


in Bombs and rockets, Writing

“Inside the fort the noise was almost intolerable. Added to the firing of the batteries was the constant rattling of automatic shell elevators, which carried ammunition in an endless stream from a ground floor arsenal to each gun. G Tower was designed not only as a gun platform but as a huge five-story warehouse, hospital and air raid shelter. The top floor, directly underneath the batteries, housed the 100-man military garrison. Beneath that was a 95-bed Luftwaffe hospital, complete with X-ray rooms and two fully equipped operating theaters. It was staffed by six doctors, twenty nurses and some thirty orderlies. The next floor down, the third, was a treasure trove. Its storerooms contained the prize exhibits of Berlin’s top museums. Housed there were the famous Pergamon sculptures, parts of the huge sacrificial altar built by King Eumenes II of the Hellenes around 180 B.C.; various other Egyptian, Greek and Roman antiquities, including statues, reliefs, vessels and vases; “The Gold Treasure of Priam,” a huge collection of gold and silver bracelets, necklaces, earrings, amulets, ornaments and jewels, excavated by the German archaeologist Heinrich Schliemann in 1872 on the city of the ancient city of Troy. There were priceless Gobelin tapestries, a vast quantity of paintings – among them fine portraits of the 19th-century German artist Wilhelm Leibl – and the enormous Kaiser Wilhelm coin collection. The two lower floors of the tower were mammoth air raid shelters, with large kitchens, food storerooms and emergency quarters for the German broadcasting station, Deutschlandsender. Entirely self-contained, G Tower had its own water and power, and easily accommodated fifteen thousand people during air raids. The complex was so well stocked with supplies and ammunition that the military garrison believed that, no matter what happened to the rest of Berlin, the zoo tower could hold out for a year if need be.”

Ryan, Cornelius. The Last Battle. 1966. p. 167-8

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