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urbanks is a labour of love, a one-man band. There isn’t, strictly speaking, an ‘us’. As a solo project, the urbanks website grows incrementally, one page at a time. Concerned with urbanity, urbanks looks at the historical and geopolitical events that have shaped our towns and cities, primarily those of the 20th century.

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urbanks on your coffee table. The new book, Abandoned Cold War Germany, has finally been released. At over 20,000 words and containing more than 350 pictures, the book documents and explores the abandoned Cold War sites of Germany, East and West. It will surely be of interest to anyone with a curiosity in Cold War history, or a passion for photography and urban exploring.

A cyanide capsule and a bullet to the head. This is how Adolf Hitler is about to kill himself. The date is the 30th of April, the year is 1945. Hitler and his wife of less than two days, Eva Braun, are together in the Führerbunker, an underground complex near the Reich Chancellery in Berlin. Berlin itself is not yet under siege, but it is apparent to all that it soon will be. For the Allies have defeated the Wehrmacht in the Belgian Ardennes and have already crossed the Rhine into Germany. While at the same time, the Red Army are advancing westwards towards the German capital, unstoppable since their decisive victory at Stalingrad. As a result, SS generals are now refusing to obey Hitler's orders. Stuck down in his bunker and feeling powerless, Hitler has begun to suffer a mental breakdown. The war is lost and he knows it now.

As Hitler pulled the trigger, the Second World War came to an end and the Cold War began. It was a stalemate conflict, a militarised standoff that would involve nuclear weapons and would last half a century. There were flashpoints all across the globe, form Korea to Cuba, but the real frontier of the Cold War was in Germany. Thousands of troops from NATO countries were located in military bases in the Federal Republic in west, while thousands of Soviet troops were located in military bases in the German Democratic Republic in the east. They peered across the Iron Curtain, facing each other off with nuclear weapons twenty times more powerful than the ones dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki.

The purpose of this book is to document Cold War military bases in Germany as they are today, in 2016.  Most of them have sat empty and abandoned since the early 1990’s, following the end of the Cold War. They will not be around for much longer. Hopefully by documenting the bases before they disappear forever, the sheer scale and seriousness of the fifty yearlong confrontation that was the Cold War will be recorded as an historical fact, available for future generations to see and appreciate.

The Book

Abandoned Cold War Germany Urban Exploring Book
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