You may already have read our pages covering the TB sanitaria around Berlin. If so you will understand why it was so important to the newly emerging nation of Germany at the turn of the 19th. - 20th. centuries, to ensure that it's population could increase without hindrance. TB ravaged the world at that time and so the German nation input a great deal of effort into the treatment of the disease and searching for a cure. It was also important for Germany to ensure that as many children as possible survived their early years to ensure the future prosperity of the nation. To that end the construction of several state of the art children's hospitals was proposed, and in 1909 in the district of Weißensee in Berlin, a large "Kinder Krankenhaus" was built to the design of the architect Carl James Bühring. The primary purpose of this particular hospital, known as the "Säuglings und Kinderkrankenhaus Weißensee", was to deal with the ever increasing number of births in Berlin at that time and it was the first communal children's hospital in Prussia.
In 1911 the site was increased in size and more buildings were constructed, together with a farm to raise dairy cattle. A milk processing plant was constructed so that babies who's mother's could not feed them would still get high quality milk, as well as providing for those older children in need of better nutrition. The hospital soon became the best of it's gendre and as a centre of excellence it soon took on the role of training doctors and nurses for the other children's hospitals appearing at that time.
The dairy farm, despite appearing on the face of it to be a good idea, was relatively short lived, closing down in 1920 after only nine years operation. After World War II the Soviet Union held on to much of east Germany - Berlin in particular - and they continued to use the hospital for it's original purpose, adding a new infirmary in 1987 only two years before the fall of the Berlin Wall - BELOW RIGHT. After the reunification of Germany the hospital continued for a short time, however by 1997 it was very long in the tooth, and on January 1st. it finally closed it's doors. It was sold to a property investor in 2006 and plans were made to turn it into a cancer hospital, but to date nothing has been done. Originally a date for the start of re-construction was set in 2011 however as can be clearly seen from our photographs taken towards the end of that year in November, it is slowly rotting away with no sign of any progress what so ever.
The hospital sits on a busy road running through Weissensee, almost directly opposite a busy tram stop, and yet despite that it was very easy indeed for us to gain access - all we had to do was step over a badly damaged fence and we were immediately within the front yard outside the plant complex. A short walk and a wobbly ditch crossing by plank, and we were sprinting for the open side entrance to the main building! Once inside it is immediately obvious that the original construction was to the usual exacting German engineering standards which we had seen elsewhere around Berlin. Apart from the effects of vandalism and some water damage in places it is still very sound and it would take little in the way of structural work to renovate at this time. The ward extension to the immediate centre rear of the main building however has not faired quite so well. There is a lot of graffiti everywhere on the site and the attic space in the main building has become "Harry Ramp Central". Fortunately no one was home when we were there but filthy bed rolls and a scattering of personal belongings made it quite obvious that this area is lived in. In the adjacent plant complex I pushed open a door and my nose was assailed by the most appalling stench. I stuck my head in a little way and spotted what appeared to be a human form lying on a filthy mattress under a mouldering duvet - alive or dead I would not like to say but the atmosphere in the room did not smell particularly healthy and there was no way I was going to investigate further!
To the rear of the hospital site the gardens have been reclaimed by nature and a wander through the woods here takes you to what appears to be a tiny circular chapel. To the right of the chapel is a free standing building which is in all likelihood the infirmary constructed in the late 80s. All stark green tiles and concrete corridors so typical of the utilitarian construction techniques of the Deutsche Demokratische Republik, it is a rather unpleasant place and it afforded us very few photographic opportunities.
So, all in all the Kinderkrankenhaus Weissense was not a brilliant exploration - and this is reflected in the paucity of aesthetic photographs - however it was worth doing if only to see for ourselves another example of the way that the emerging German nation invested in it's future at the start of the twentieth century.