Wien, part IV – bunkers

During my stay in Vienna I slept in appartment very close to Arenberg park, in 3rd district, very close to Landstrasse. It is a small park, usually crowded with parents with kids, small playground and two basketball courts right next to one of two bunkers. Yes. A bunkers. And not like any other bunker you have seen in movies about WWII. These two are known as Flaktürme, a Flak Towers and are some of rare remaining towers of that kind in Europe. In Vienna, there are 4 other ones, two in Augarten and another two in Stiftskaserne. Those two in Arenberg park are 42m and 39m tall, made of concrete walls thick about 2-3m.

All of three pairs of bunkers were made during 1942 -1943 to form a triangle for anti-aircraft protection of a city. The name, Flaktürme, comes from a word flak (acronym for Fliegerabwehrkanone, meaning anti-aircraft gun) and türme – tower. Each pair of towers consisted of a large, heavily gunned attack tower and a smaller communications tower. They were designed by city architect, professor Friedrich Tamms, already famous at the time for his contribution to Germany's concrete Autobahnen system. There is a story that construction of the towers used enough material to build an apartment for every citizen of Vienna!!! A roof of towers was meant to contain the heaviest artillery and lighter armaments installed on projecting balconies below. All the towers were self-contained with their own water and power supplies, military hospitals, and filtered air systems in case of gas attack. However, the towers only became operational towards the end of the war by which time they were already serving as air raid shelters for the local population.

After war, some of the towers in Germany were successfully destroyed (there were towers in Berlin and Hamburg), but those in Wienna remained, mostly because they were too close to surrounding buildings. However, Russian soldiers tried to demolish one in Augarten but they attempt failed, leaving only a crack on the top – towers seemed indestructable!!!
Since 1945. there were a lot of plans to make towers usable but they rarely moved out of drawing boards. Only in recent times, because of solid construction, communication tower in Esterházypark has been successfully converted into the fascinating House of the Sea (Haus des Meeres) and now houses many species (snakes, piranhas and crocodiles as well as sharks and giant turtles). Unfortunately I missed the opportunity to visit it. All other towers are closed. I can just imagine how many good photgraphs could be made from their balconies…
Just one more interesting story: "…anticipating victory, Hitler's architects had plans to clad the Flak towers with slabs of black marble on which the names of dead German soldiers would be chiselled in gold leaf. The towers would thus become both monuments to German triumph as well as memorials to those who died achieving it…"
What really happened later is a part of history.

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19 Responses to Wien, part IV – bunkers

  1. Spaggyj says:

    They are very unusual bunkers indeed! It makes sense that an anti-aircraft communications tower would also be a bunker, doesn't it?

  2. Dacotah says:

    Interesting post Darko. I enjoyed reading it.

  3. attilasoul says:

    I thought that bunkers were always under the ground. These are really special. Not pretty, but special. 😀 Thanks for another interesting history lesson. :up:

  4. gdare says:

    Carol – thanks, it was interesting to me when I saw that first one – no one told me about it before and I was :eyes:Kimmie – yes, especially because all the telecommunications were so good protected – even direct hit with an average aircraft bomb would hardly harm it :)Tilla – they are really ugly but somehow nice in its ugliness; and in a city like Vienna… 😀

  5. Dacotah says:

    You are welcome. 🙂

  6. Spaggyj says:

    That's impressive, and damn smart.

  7. Cois says:

    Look like castles.. 😀

  8. gdare says:

    Cois – they were castles… sort of… 🙂

  9. Cois says:

    Forts maybe? Sorry.. History I left behind early.. :left: guess that's why I find this so cool now..

  10. SittingFox says:

    Very interesting :up:I used to know an elderly lady in my home village who had an underground air raid shelter in her garden. These towers are on a different scale altogether!

  11. gdare says:

    Cois – no, they were made during WWII; with defined purpose;Adele – thank you; stories from people who needed to go to shelters during air raids are always similar – what will happen, will they survive, what will they found after the raid,… 😦

  12. CedarFox says:

    Wow they're huge! :eyes: I would never want to go against one of those things for sure

  13. gdare says:

    Well, they are meant to save a sky over Vienna from British and US aircraft, especially Lancasters and Flying Fortresses. Too big for infantry…

  14. gdare says:

    Neither did I. When I saw them first times, I was :eyes: and I asked my friend: What is this? pointing a finger like a kid 😆 He just laughed and told me a story. I was in Berlin a long time ago but no one told me about their towers…Sometimes in one of the towers they make a disco, but only with purpose and I have heard it is very expensive to enter :left:

  15. edwardpiercy says:

    The Museum of the Sea sounds interesting, I'm sorry for you that you missed it. Perhaps they will be able to do something with the remaining towers eventually. — I'm thinking they would make one hell of a club/disco.Thanks for this interesting info. I had no prior knowledge of any of the towers.

  16. edwardpiercy says:

    Umm. Then mabey kinda like those impromtu clubs they do in London. Might be nice, I suppose.

  17. gdare says:

    I will take it from you, I`ve never been in London 😀

  18. rose-marie says:

    Wow, those are huge! In one way, I like the fact that they have converted it into something completely different.

  19. gdare says:

    I was really :eyes: when I saw them 🙂

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