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The fence bends easily like they want you to come in. Some trees sportingly hinder progress briefly so you don’t feel cheated, but the invitation is clear from the open door – they’re willing you, begging you to enter.No children cry here anymore, no longer do they suffer. No brave little soldiers, sad eyes wide above glistening cheeks, nor any laughter from those over the worst, happy now to be the centre of attention, the cause of so much worry and pain. No birthday parties, Christmas parties, balloons or cake.
Visitors gave up waiting a long time ago. It’s too late to save any of them now. They’re all gone, the last drama played out before the wards were left creaking and empty, rooms bare and lonely. The Kinderkrankenhaus is krank and no one’s there to provide the cure. No wonder the little souls of those left behind are desperate for visitors to come through its doors once again.
The children’s hospital and women’s clinic in Neukölln was discarded like an old nappy in 2005, when it and two other local hospitals were closed down and shunted together to a new super-duper complex up the road.
Kaiser Wilhelm II, the Prussian king, must be spinning in his mausoleum at the thought. Germany’s last monarch decided in 1913 that Brandenburg needed a midwife school for Brandenburg. Germans not being people to do things by halves, not even for midwives, it was opened on July 1st, 1917, during the war.
Under the leadership of Prof. Sigfrid Hammerschlag, it developed quickly and became very important, 20,000 nippers being brought into the world here by 1928. Unfortunately, another crowd came into the world too and Prof. Hammerschlag was forced into retirement on November 1st, 1933 – because he was Jewish.
In his inauguration speech the next day, Prof. Benno Ottow promised to fight for the “reorganisation and inclusion of this clinic in the whole of the state structure under National Socialism without compromise.” I presume all babies gave Nazi salutes as soon as they came out of the womb.Prof. Ottow, who even had the Hitler moustache favoured at the time, stayed in charge until 1945, when he managed to escape to Stockholm. There he worked with baby animals and wrote stuff about dinosaurs. He lived to the not insignificant age of 91 before dying in 1975. Of course, the hospital had been severely damaged in the second war, but was rebuilt and progressively expanded over the decades. A new children’s hospital building was built in 1969 and another new building with surgery and facilities to care for newborns and premature babies was built in 1978.
By this time 3,000 babies a year were seeing their first light of day here, making the Frauenklinik Neukölln the biggest such hospital in Germany for many years.
Now, before it’s converted to apartments, it’s occupied by bums and crawling with Polizei. At least it was when we were there, when one guy was being led away in handcuffs.
No bodies, but long empty crumbling corridors, open doors, smashed glass and concrete crunching underfoot. Cheery paintings on walls somehow having the opposite effect. Everything’s smashed. Most of the buildings are the same.The older one, from 1917, is magnificent however, with statues on the outside walls, a wonderful stairway, great doorways and fantastic bay windows.
Some idiot tried burning it down though, so be careful if you go to the roof!
Someone else was roaming around too; voices drifted over every so often as I explored and admired the ubiquitous street art. I did stumble across a few hidden lairs, decrepit, dank and lonely, albeit luxurious when compared to what else must be available. There’s not a huge amount else to see unless you get a kick out of meeting homeless people. Just don’t kick them back or you might end up in another hospital.
Abandoned children’s hospital and previously Germany’s biggest women’s gynaecology hospital for births, the care of newborns, premature nippers etc. By that, I mean the clinic was the biggest of its type in Germany, not that it was only for Germany’s biggest women. Ditto the hospital, it was abandoned. It wasn’t a hospital for abandoned children.