Fieldstation Berlin

FSB "Teufelsberg"

The NSA Field Station Berlin Teufelsberg was one of the premier listening posts of the cold war. Situated on top of the highest elevation in West Berlin - the Teufelsberg, the station had unobstructed reception of signals from all directions. And viewed from West Berlin, in all directions was "East". Situated on an artifical hill near a string of lakes, the Teufelsberg enjoyed excellent reception in most radio bands that were otherwise difficult to receive at long distances. The NSA got so far in their search for better receiption, that they prolonged the operation of a flywheel that was accidentially found to be a excellent resonator for certain radar installations deep in the east.

The station was situated in the British sector of West Berlin, so the US services were technically a guest there. Given the intense collaboration of the british and american intelligence agencies, this was only a technicallity. The British armed forces had one own building (building M aka. 1455) on the hill and a very high metal grid antenna tower (removed around 1992) for their collection antennas. How the collection and analysis efforts were shared between the two operating countries is currently not entirely clear. Obvious is the common operation of auxillary services (like power, heating, sewer, dining facility etc.). A fascinating difference between the US and British complex on the hill is that the British had three different types of toilets: ladies, normal men and officers. The US forces had to live with just the normal two toilet varieties.

The US operation on the Teufelsberg has been managed in the last years of its existence by the US Army Intelligence and Security Command INSCOM. The NSA itself had analysts, researchers and linguists based on the Teufelsberg, in different numbers over time. Detachments from other services, like the Air Force, were assigned to a number of missions, like finding ways to subvert the air defense forces of the East in case of a hot war. The Field Station contained all kinds of ELINT and SIGINT equipment, the biggest known pieces were the 40 feet (12 meter) fully rotable down to below horizon dish antennas inside the radomes left and right of the main tower. The directional microwave link networks inside East Germany were probably recorded completely, as they all converged in East Berlin and had considerable beam width and side lobes and could therefore be easily intercepted with the kind of resources installed on the Teufelsberg. New types of air defense radars could be analyzed in detail as well as satellite transmissions and radio communications intercepted and analysed. It is known that the wireless communication systems in West Berlin were also on tap, in addition to the monitoring of the wire based communication under Allied Law performed in other installations like the one in Mariendorf. Rumor has it that even relatively small radio based room bugs installed somewhere in Berlin, were receivable with the enormous antenna systems.

Below you find an overview map of the installation, photographed on a wall in building 1458. The map seems to have been made after the inteligence people left. Due to construction work (recently abandoned) aimed at building expensive appartments in the area, some buildings are no longer existing. Primarily the buildings 1457, 1456 and 1466 (right side of the map) are demolished. For the historically interested, the most promising buildings are 1475 (the US computing and analysts building), 1455 (the British building), 1425 (also called Arctic Tower or Search Tower) and of course 1458 (the main operations building with the tower and the "ball" radomes). The construction work has affected the analysts and operation floors of the tower building (1458) very much, so there are only few traces of its past use visible.