Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Teufelsberg update: Beware the devils on Devil's Mountain!

I'd been getting a lot of bad stories of people being threatened, bullied and – in short – exploited at Teufelsberg so I've decided to get to the bottom of what's going on. I went there today.
I circled the perimeter edge looking for a convenient hole in the fence but didn't find any so simply hopped the front gate. Fuck it, I wasn't hiding from anyone. I wanted to see what was going on.
I walked up the main entrance, saw a car ahead, heard voices, kept going. As I rounded the corner and made to go past them a guy came over straight away. Demanded money. Why? Because it's private property and you can't simply walk around.
I asked who he was. He said it wasn't important.
I insisted. He said he was working for the security company. Wouldn't tell me the name of the security company.
I asked for ID, some proof of who he was. He refused.
I said I didn't believe him, he could be anybody, and that I was going on ahead to take pictures. I told him the site belonged to an investor group based in Cologne and it was up to them to decide who could go and who not.
He continued on about the security company. I again asked for proof.
“You can look it up on the internet,” he said. He still wouldn't tell me the company name.
I again asked for proof, something to fucking look at.
“I don't need to show you anything.”
You do if you want money from me buddy.
I showed him my press ID, told him I was going ahead to take pictures and I wasn't giving him money.
He laughed at the press ID.
“That's no good to you here.”
Then I started taking photos of him. He seemed surprised at first, then he laughed, stuck his tongue out, raised his fingers at the camera.
I went to move past him and he started shoving me as the aggression levels were rising. I went to walk on. He went in front of me, started pushing me back.
I warned him to be careful not to overstep his bounds.
He kept shoving me back. I held my ground.
Then another guy came around the corner, from the direction of the main domes, with two or three tourists in tow. He charged over straight away, shouting. He pushed me back, put his face in my face. He was scowling, his face contorted with rage.
He was much bigger. A thug. A thuggish thug, as opposed to the mere goon I'd already been talking to.
I had pretty much the same conversation, wanted to see some proof of who they were. I said the site belonged to the Cologne investment group and that they were the ones to decide who should go in etc.
“I live here,” the thug said.
He had a clipboard in his hand and I asked to see it. It was filled in with the names and addresses of people, but I couldn't see any mention of any security group, Cologne investment group or tour agency.
He threatened to call the police.
“Call the police,” I replied. The police would have been welcome at that stage.
He said the owner of the investment group was off doing a tour and that I could talk to him when he came back – but that I'd have to wait at the gate for him. He named a name. It didn't sound like the name the head of a Cologne investment group would have.
I took a picture of him. I think the fact I had pictures of them put them off hitting me. That, and the tourists, who were still standing by awkwardly. I guess they would have been witnesses.
But I knew at this stage I couldn't get past without risking some serious violence. This guy was just itching for me to make the first move so he could retaliate. I'm not crazy. I knew I was pushing my luck.
I agreed to go back down to the gate to talk to “the owner.”
He asked me to delete the photos. I refused.
As we were walking back to the gate, he made a wanking sign and said, “You can take your pictures and do this with them.”
A thug, and clearly a wanker too.
As I was leaving, some couple I had already met outside looking for a way in arrived at the gate.
“How much is it in?” the guy asked me.
“I don't know. I didn't bother asking,” I told him.
The thug forgot about me. He had customers.

So I didn't get to the bottom of it, but I will. It seems pretty obvious the guys charging people admission are fraudsters. Whether they're squatters, or security charged with looking after the premises but taking advantage of it on the side, or whether they're entitled to rip people off remains to be seen. As soon as I find out what's going on I'll let you know.

The pictures here were taken on a previous visit in 2010, apart from the photos of the security guys. That's the thug on the left, the goon's on the right.

UPDATE: November 17, 2012 - I spoke with Teufelsberg's owner and with the guy he has entrusted with security on the site. Full details are here: http://www.irishberliner.com/2012/11/teufelsberg-update-mountains-devils-in.html 

16 comments:

  1. Dude, that's crazy! Very fishy. Way to go, holding your ground - but I'm really glad they didn't beat you up or anything! Thank goodness for that tourist group of onlookers!

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  2. Wow. I bet you're right, something fishy is going on there.
    Put that press pass to good use and check it out!

    Looking forward to your followup.

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  3. Geez - thanks for the report. Sounds pretty ridiculous all around. Hopefully it sorts itself out, or you help get to the bottom of it.

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  4. Wow. I went there early September, snuck through some hole in the fence (which was not easy to find), and after wandering for about an hour, I walked in some room downstairs, near an old can collection hanging, and two guys were seated. They asked me who I was, I told them I was just a tourist, they said they were security and that I was not allowed to be here, and one of them flipped out and demanded that I show him where I came in so he could fence it off. The other one was pretty calm and he just escorted me out of the main gate. He told me that during the past months a lot of party Berliners were coming in, making a lot of noise and seeing that it's dangerous, entry is no longer allowed without a tourist group. I later heard that if you tell them you're a graffiti artist, they let you in with no trouble.

    But geez, had no idea it could be dangerous. I think you should've reported them anyway.

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  5. Thanks for the comments. Not sure these guys are actually dangerous unless you refuse to give them money and insist on going in. Then, I'm sure they'd get dangerous. But if you cough up a few €uros, I'm sure they're happy to refrain from violence.
    I hope to find out more. Will keep you updated.

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  6. Good on your for not giving in to such a blatant shake-down. Sure hope McGoonthug and Co will be put out of business soon.

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  7. Thank you for your post and for looking into this. We visited Teufelsberg for the second time in October (the first was about a year ago) and had almost exactly the same experience as you, down to the questions I asked the thug (the goon wasn't present at the time). Our visit one year prior was so wonderful; there were families with kids and dogs, just wandering around peacefully. We were incredibly disappointed and pissed off to discover that these dudes are ruining the experience of visiting such an amazing place, making it feel sinister and dangerous. I look forward to hearing if you uncover any further information about these douche bags.

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  8. Well done @IrischeBerliner

    Yeah these guys are assholes. I had a very similar experience at the beginning of October as well. One of the guys was going to jump me, had the tourists not been there. I wan't able to get up into the tower, but last week I took my girlfriend's dad and we were able to get in all the way by sneaking around the tours.

    One thing that really bothers me is the way they seal up holes in the exterior fence with barbed wire. It's just plain nasty. The fence is so easily permeated - people are going to get in no matter what you do. The only difference with the barbed wire is that a kid in the dark is going seriously hurt themselves and bleed out in the middle of the Grünewald. I think Berlin has too much razor wire in its history already. We don't need more.

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  9. What if you contacted the investor group in Cologne for comment? They are presumably liable if anyone gets hurt on their premises, especially if there is a report to them and the police about it.

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    1. I say we load up on Sterni and goofballs and go and twist those mutha fuckaz!!! I looked up their crimes (maybe) in the German Criminal Code: posing as security, extorting and being aggressive with foreigners. Their punishment: we are allowed to kick seven shades of scheisse of them. I got yer back, G!

      db

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  10. Guten Tag, Irischer Berliner,

    thanks for investigating and publishing Teufelsleaks... Part 1 had inspired me to sum up my memories of an encounter & exchange with a guard 2 years ago. It turned out too long to be acceptable as commentary, and when I wanted to shorten it, it grew some new arguments...

    So, my idea is to publish it with a reference to your postings - if you agree?

    I tried to comment on part 2 now, but it looks as if you took it down for revisions?

    A relevant detail up-front:

    One hint by the guard in 2010 led me to identify the same security as you have found, eMGe, owned by Gerd Emge. Address and contact details can be found (somewhat hidden) on their proper imprint page: emge-sicherheit.de/impressum

    Herzliche Grüße von Gesine, der Berliner Füxin @foxeen (aka @textgruen)

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    1. Hi Berliner Füxin,
      Those revisions are revised now. There were a couple of stupid spelling mistakes and a couple of other small changes.
      Yes, of course you can reference my postings! I'm happy that they might be of use to someone.
      Thanks for the eMGe details. Looks like I'll have to do another revision...
      Liebe Grüße,
      IB

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  11. Ooops, .html missing in the link:

    emge-sicherheit.de/impressum.html

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  12. Thanks for all your interest and comments folks! Your interest is inspirational. I followed it up and there's another update online now: http://www.irishberliner.com/2012/11/teufelsberg-update-mountains-devils-in.html

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