A complex of over 60 buildings, Beelitz-Heilstatten began life as a sanatorium in 1898. By World War I, however, it became a military hospital for the Imperial German Army, and would have the dubious distinction of treating a young Adolph Hitler in October and November of 1916 when wounded during the Battle of the Somme.
During World War II, it would continue in its function as an army hospital, even after its takeover in 1945 by Soviet horses. It was finally returned to Germany in 1995, almost 4 years after reunification, and attempts were made to privatize the facility with limited success.
Many of the buildings remained empty and unused, falling into a horrible state of disrepair. Most recently, however, new life is beginning.
In many ways, our visit was a disappointment. We arrived to discover that almost the entire facility was either occupied or being remodeled under the watchful eye of a significant security detail. While I am uncertain what the long-term plans for all of these buildings is, it appeared that much of the area being restored might be going over to condos or other such accommodations.
I say we were disappointed, and certainly we were as we were really looking forward to this exploration. On the other hand, I must say that it is good to see the buildings being kept and restored their original beauty for future generations.