Just a short ride to the southwest of Berlin is supposedly one of the most haunted places in Germany. Is Beelitz Heilstätten a true paranormal hotspot?
Some 30 miles southwest of Berlin, Germany, lies a small town called Beelitz, sometimes called “home of the white asparagus” because of its abundance of the delicious vegetable. Other than that, there isn’t very much to say about this place. A much more interesting destination is just a few miles drive to the northwest.
Follow the Strasse nach Fichtenwalde and after a minute or two, a huge complex of reddish and yellowish Art Nouveau buildings between old dark green beeches and alders will fill the windscreen. 500 acres of spooky trees dotted by 60 dark and desolate edifices.
This is the Beelitz Heilstätten Pulmonary Sanatorium… Supposedly one of the most haunted spots in Germany.
Beelitz Heilstätten Sanatorium – A short background.
The hospital was built in three faces, 1898 – 1902, 1908 – 1910, and 1926 –1930. These were wartimes in Europe as well as a period of big changes in the German political, and economic framework. During the first world war, some of the structures were used as a war hospital.
- Adolf Hitler was treated here from October 9 to December 4, 1916, for a shrapnel wound after the battle of Somme.
… And of course, the same use was applied during WW2.
After the war, the occupying Sovjet Red Army continued to use Beelitz Heilstätten as a military hospital all the way until 1994, five years after the fall of the Berlin Wall.
- In late 1990 the General Secretary of the Communist Party of East Germany, Erich Honecker was treated here for Liver Cancer before he was abruptly flown to Moscow in 1991.
- There are also rumors that the President of the Russian Federation, Vladimir Putin, was a patient in the late 1980s. That fact can not be confirmed.
A few buildings were refurbished and now have clinical use. For example, there’s a recognized Parkinson’s Specialist clinic as well as a few other specialist wards.
From 2001 to 2015 many of the buildings were left to decay and vandalism due to a lack of funds.
Since 2015 the parks and the buildings have had separate owners, and plans for the whole area include health and welfare activity as well as residential areas. For now, the future of Beelitz Heilstätten isn’t 100% confirmed, but work is ongoing to restore and secure the premises.
Many of the scariest and ghostliest photos you see online are from the abandoned years when anyone could just step in and w
alk around inside the crumbling buildings. That is not possible anymore.
about the hauntings?
Well… There are numerous stories, legends, anecdotes, and video footage of strange sounds, voices, touchings, and opening and closing doors, windows, and hatches. All the normal stuff, as you will see.
More precisely the following have been witnessed:
- Apparitions of former patients who have been seen roaming the corridors.
- Visitors have claimed to have been approached by shadowy figures. Shadows have been seen sliding along the walls, as well as other light anomalies.
- Voices, phantom footsteps, screams, and other unexplained sounds have been heard and sometimes registered
- Some spots are much colder (or hotter) than the surrounding areas.
- Shapes moving quickly past empty windows.
- Feelings of being watched, being followed, not being alone. Some subjects can confirm feelings of strong hostility in certain locations.
These affirmations mostly come from websites, podcasts, and in a particular mode, youtube videos. A reasonably serious paranormal investigation (… and I would even accept any of the bigger Ghosthunting Tv series) has never been done. The best we have are videos like this:
Can you draw a conclusion already at this stage?
Yes, I think you can, but let’s look at some documented real creepy activity from the last decades.
Crimes and incidents in the neighborhood.
- Between 1989 and 1991 a serial killer, known as the Beast of Beelitz or the Pink Giant, stalked Beelitz. Former police officer Wolfgang Schmidt murdered six people and tried to kill three more in and around the small town. Two victims were the wife of a Russian doctor and their newborn child. They were assassinated in the neighborhood of Beelitz Heilstätten, and the circumstances of the killings were gruesome.
- In 2008 an amateur photographer killed his model inside the premises. He used to do erotic photo sessions within the ghostly environment. The murder was inspired by the 1991 murder.
- In 2010 a young man fell from a window on the fourth floor. He died from his injuries.
- Also in 2010, a man fell four meters into a hole, while unlawfully spending the night together with three friends inside the hospital. He survived.
- In 2011 a homeless person who had lived for many years on the site hung himself in one of the buildings.
And the verdict is…
We have only anecdotal evidence, nothing else. Anecdotal evidence doesn’t have to mean that we don’t have any evidence at all. What people say, and what can be derived from statements can be very informative. We use testimonies in court all the time. Still, small talk and chit-chat should be treated with suspicion. So, to debunk the stories we have quite a few arguments on the skeptical side:
- The fact that there is no hard evidence at all is damaging to the proposal of paranormal activity. Not even a half-credible footage or mumbling EVP-audio of some sort.
Now, if we try to come up with motives for faking the videos or inventing the stories, there are mountains of those.
- The environment is perfect as a background for ghost stories. It’s vast, 200 acres with 60 different buildings to explore.
- The premises were unguarded and open to anybody for 15 years. No barbed wire, no CCTV, no guards, and most importantly, no guard dogs. You could practically just bring a cell phone and make your own Ghost video in a few hours.
- The historical background is almost as perfect as it could possibly be. The German and Sovjet armies, Erich Honecker, and even Adolf Hitler himself in the logbook. That’s impressive.
- The medical/hospital environment creates a special atmosphere. There’s nothing as intriguing as a sign with a psychological ward on it, or old rusty hospital equipment.
- Some hauntings include ghosts and phantoms from the deceased by the terrible experiments conducted on Romani and Sinti prisoners, political adversaries to the NSDAP, disabled, POWs but with greater determination on Jews by the Nazis. These experiments were carried out in Concentration Camps such as Auschwitz and Mauthausen. In Beelitz Heilstätten there were never any prisoners and during both world wars, the whole structure was a military hospital. The stories about human experiments and euthanasia are simply false.
- It is situated no more than a 45 minutes train ride from Berlin, the biggest city in the whole European Union (after the UK left).
During the abandoned years, vandalism and theft were huge problems. Every day the inhabitants of the small community had to cope with hoards of roaming youths, disturbing the tranquil little neighborhood. Other than just partying and exploring, metal scraps were also stolen from every part of the hospital. Even roof piles in copper and zink were taken down to be sold.
In that context, locals tried to defend what they looked upon as their inheritance. In doing so they created ghosts, they manufactured them themselves to try to scare away the intruders. There are stories about people hiding inside the buildings, moving objects and whispering words from ventilation shafts, etc. Some of these stories can be confirmed, but even if they’re not, they still provide a good explanation for how ghostly activity possibly could be explained.
Almost all documentation of paranormal activity is from the period 2001 – 2015.
The Movie… Yes, Beelitz Heilstätten has its own Movie too.
It is simply called Heilstätten.
The German production from 2018 was directed by Michael David Pate and starred Nilam Farooq, Emilio Sakraya, Timmi Trinks, Sonja Gerhardt, and Tim Oliver Schultz.
The story tells of four friends and Youtubers who engage in a 24-hour challenge to stay within the haunted hospital in hope of making a truly viral video. They all start out much like many of the Youtube videos you can find if you search for Beelitz Heilstätten… Young and slightly overconfident entrepreneurs in search of a good story. But after some cool initial footage of the four participants, the friendly enterprise very soon turns into a much more sinister and dangerous affair, although not actually including any paranormal entities.
… Oops, was that a plot spoiler?
If you like scary movies of the handheld flickering camera type, this one could be a winner.
A particular fact is that the new owners of Beelitz Heilstätten didn’t authorize the film team to shoot inside the premises. The movie contains some footage from the outside of the hospital but all inside footage is actually from Grabowsee Sanatorium about 40 miles to the north.
It seems the Beelitz Sanatorium has become a paranormal hotspot mostly because it was abandoned for 15 years. That made it a perfect spot to shoot videos and invent legends. The obvious accessibility of the premises turned it into a cheap and easy target for Youtube wannabes
No. there are no ghosts at Beelitz Heilstätten. Not even a small, friendly one.
- Wikipedia / Beelitz Heilstätten
- Tagesspiegel Potsdamm / Erneut schwerer Unfall in Heilstätten.
- BZ Die Stimme Berlins / Wie der Rosa Riese in Haft Frauen traf
- Chip / Spukorte in Deutschland
- Baum und Zeit (Official website)
- Welt / Wenn kopflose Gestalten durch Deutschland reiten
- RedaktionsNetzWerk Deutchland / Die wahre Geschichte hinter der „GNTM“-Grusellocation