A Second World War tunnel 312m underground, which was converted into a bunker after the Cuban Missile Crisis, Marienthal was equipped to see 3,000 civil servants through a nuclear holocaust - enough tins of goulash and cabbage for 30 days' seclusion. It was hardly a luxury retreat. Only the Chancellor and the President were allocated private bedrooms; and theirs were pretty Spartan, furnished only with metal-framed hospital beds (see bottom left; also shown are a sealed exit, top left; the planning room, top centre; the kitchen, bottom centre; and the medical room, bottom right). If the worst had happened, this last relic of the Old World Order would have become a unique showcase of functional German office design of the Sixties and Seventies: no fripperies on board this subterranean Ark, only thousands of rooms and many miles of signposted corridors.
Last year the German government flirted with the idea of selling the bunker for a nominal sum to anyone who could dream up a good use for it. After weeding the applicants, 16 would-be buyers remained (one suggestion was to turn the bunker into a Cold War museum; another, into a techno club). But none of these proposals was deemed practicable, and the federal authorities have now made the decision to seal the bunker for ever: in official terms, to "disconnect" Marienthal from the surrounding vineyards.
It is ironic that a Communist country should be the only beneficiary of the decision to abandon the bunker: all of the mattresses, including the Chancellor's, were sent to Cuba as humanitarian aid.Reuse content