Flooding of U-Bahn & S-Bahn Tunnels in Berlin

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Durand
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Flooding of U-Bahn & S-Bahn Tunnels in Berlin

Post by Durand » 23 Jul 2003 12:43

Hallo,

In "Race for the Reichstag" Tony Le Tissier mentions that orders were issued from the Führerbunker on April 21, 1945, to stop all traffic in Berlin's U-Bahn and S-Bahn tunnels and to erect barricades at various points in the tunnels. Because some lines ran under the Spree and the Landwehr canal, consideration was given to deliberate flooding of the tunnels as a defensive nature. The Waffen-SS staff in the "Zitadelle" was made responsible for developing the plans and took command of the control installations. There was friction between the Waffen-SS and the railway engineers. One engineer, who tried to stop preparations for planting explosive charges, was shot.

In "The Bunker", author James O'Donnell interviewed SS Major-General Wilhelm Mohnke on the question of flooding the tunnels. Mohnke indicated that consideration had been given to flooding the tunnels, but that no order was given to do so. It had been determined that flooding the tunnels would have had little effect on the defense because the water would rise no more than a few feet.

In "Defeat in the East" Jürgen Thorwald cites a passage from the journal of an officer (not further identified) of the Müncheberg Division which reflects that their command post in the subway tunnel under the Anhalt Station was briefly flooded on April 26, 1945. Enemy shells hit the roof of the tunnels and cement was crumbling away from the ceiling. At one point water rushed through the tunnel and rose to over three feet. People panicked in the tunnel and ran. Many fell and were drowned or trampled to death. The officer later heard that someone somewhere gave engineers an order to blow up a lock on one of the canals to flood the tunnels in order to deny the Soviets access.

I would like to know more about the plan to flood the U-Bahn and S-Bahn tunnels. To what extent were the tunnels flooded? Was it deliberate or an accident of war? If deliberate, who ordered it, what unit (or units) was responsible for executing the order, and at which points in the system were charges set off? How many people died as a result of the flooding? If possible, please include sources.

Regards,

Durand

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Post by nondescript handle » 23 Jul 2003 14:13

There is a book on that subject: Karen Meyer "Die Flutung des Berliner S-Bahn-Tunnels".
In the morning hours of May 2 1945 the S-bahn tunnel under the Landwehr-canal was blown up, approximately 100-200 people died.
It was deliberate, but who ordered and who executed it is unknown (rumors blame the SS).
Flooded were the North-south-line of the S-Bahn and through the station Fridrichsstraße first the Subway (U-Bahn) line C was also slowly filled with water, and later additional subway lines.
The water was not very deep and had no effect on the fighting.
Here is a map of the flooding: the green line is the North-south-line of the S-Bahn, the blue rectangle the point of the break.
Blue lines represent flooded parts of U-Bahn lines, grey ones the dry parts.

Image

Regards
Mark

Durand
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Post by Durand » 24 Jul 2003 12:19

Hallo Mark,

Thank you for the information and the map. Both are excellent.

Regards,

Durand

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Post by nondescript handle » 24 Jul 2003 14:15

Hi Durand,

in the meantime I've found inconsistend reports how deep the water actually was: from "just a few feet" to "fully flooded", but at least the S-Bahn tunnel beneath the Landwehrkanal seems to fall into the latter category.
I'm not able to confirm the incident on April 26, but in the night April 2/3 1945 a bombing raid produced a small leak in the U-Bahn line A between the stations Klosterstraße and Märkisches Museum (thats beneath the Spree).

Regards
Mark[/i]

Durand
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Post by Durand » 25 Jul 2003 12:14

Hallo Mark,

from "just a few feet" to "fully flooded"


How likely is it that the inconsistency can be explained an initial rush of water followed by receding levels or by survivors who panicked during the event and later assumed the water reached a level higher than a few feet?

How long did the tunnels remain flooded and when were they repaired?

Do you have sources in addition to Meyer?

My apologies for all the questions, but this is a subject that seems to have received little coverage and I find it to be quite interesting.

Regards,

Durand

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Post by nondescript handle » 25 Jul 2003 13:28

Hello Durand,

Durand wrote:Do you have sources in addition to Meyer?


Just general Berlin history books and web sites. Of course you must take those sources with a grain of salt, but right now the weather ist too good to sit in a library 8) .
A good online source is the site where I found the online map: http://home.arcor.de/netzspinne/, a history of Berlin's U-Bahn. It seems to be quite reliable.

Durand wrote:How long did the tunnels remain flooded and when were they repaired?


The BVG (the "Metropolitan Transportation Authority") walled off the U-Bahn system from the S-Bahn tunnel (the S-Bahn is run by the national railway authority) and begun to pump the water out in June 4 1945 (27 days after capitulation!).
The lines successively got back online, the E line was operational again June 23 1945.
The very last damages were repaired in 1992 :D

Regards
Mark

Durand
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Post by Durand » 26 Jul 2003 15:21

Hallo Mark,

Thank you once again for the information and the website. The website is very interesting for what it reflects about the WW II period and the general history of the U-Bahn system.

Regards,

Durand

utsola
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Re: Flooding of U-Bahn & S-Bahn Tunnels in Berlin

Post by utsola » 17 Jul 2009 13:16

Hi
Interesting subject,
In old German defense systems tunnels was used, meaning form one village to another village there was tunnels. ( sparsely in Sudeten) Some theories is claiming that the tunnels in Berlin was flooded to cower up a underground conations between Berlin and Breslau ?
Does anyone have more on this subject
Thanks
Martin

mantill
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Re: Flooding of U-Bahn & S-Bahn Tunnels in Berlin

Post by mantill » 18 Jul 2009 01:08

Anthony Beevor, in his book 'Berlin', points the finger at SS-Brigfh Gustav Krukenberg as most likely having issue the order to flood the S-Bahn tunnels.

From Beevor's book, on 01.05.45, SS-Brigfh Mohnke told Krukenberg he feared the russians would enter the U-Bhan tunnels and come up behind the Chancellery. Krukenberg notes in his diary, "As a first priority I sent a group of Nordland sappers through the U-Bhan towards Potzdamerplatz"

Krukenberg gave no further details or times but it is speculated that this was the order which led to the demolition of the S-Bhan tunnel, under the Landwehr canal, near Trebbinerstrasse, which most likely occured in the early hours of 02.05.45.

Regards

Marc

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Re: Flooding of U-Bahn & S-Bahn Tunnels in Berlin

Post by Jan-Hendrik » 18 Jul 2009 07:22

Forget Beevor...

The Berliner Verkehrsbetriebe already published already in the 80s, that it was most likely a bomb detonation that caused the flooding...nothing of those legends of "evil SS" and such stuff which is most likely rumored around :wink:

Jan-Hendrik

Rob - wssob2
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Re: Flooding of U-Bahn & S-Bahn Tunnels in Berlin

Post by Rob - wssob2 » 18 Jul 2009 14:04

I've heard two dates for the blowing up the tunnels (April 27 and May 2). Those responsible are considered to be either 11th SS Pioniers or possibly 33rd SS members.
Forget Beevor...
No, I don't think we should forget Beevor. His account is too fact based to ignore.

The Berliner Verkehrsbetriebe already published already in the 80s, that it was most likely a bomb detonation that caused the flooding...nothing of those legends of "evil SS" and such stuff which is most likely rumored around
Considering that the subway tunnels could provide an attacker with an easy route to the city center, it makes perfect military sense to prevent the Soviets from using them. The Germans could either defend the tunnels or block them; they did not have the enough men to do the former, so they did the latter. This "a bomb did it" sounds like a whitewash story.

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Re: Flooding of U-Bahn & S-Bahn Tunnels in Berlin

Post by Jan-Hendrik » 18 Jul 2009 14:49

Too much beevorish conclusions :wink:

This story was invented by communist propaganda soon after the war.

If it was neccessary for the defenders to blow up the tunnels (which were intensivly used as supply ways by the defenders) why they blew up one? And this one as the battle was last, on 2nd May??

Jan-Hendrik

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Re: Flooding of U-Bahn & S-Bahn Tunnels in Berlin

Post by mantill » 19 Jul 2009 13:36

Jan-Hendrik wrote:Too much beevorish conclusions :wink:

This story was invented by communist propaganda soon after the war.

Jan-Hendrik
Beevor doesn't say it was the SS. He points to Krukenberg's diary entry that hours before the tunnels were flooded he sent SS Pionniers into the tunnel. That is fact. He then says this is a likely cause of the flooding of the tunnels. Krukenberg didn't say he ordered the tunnels flooded, it may be that an enterprising junior Pionnier officer took the task upon himself.

This is just as valid a conclusion as Berliner Verkehrsbetriebe's "that it was most likely a bomb detonation"

The truth is without further evidence we may never know exactly what happened. But to dismiss the circumstantial evidence provided by Krukenberg's diary entry you are going to need more than a vague reference to a 'legend of an evil SS conspiracy'.

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