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