Nukes in the back yard
In October 1962 the Cuban Missile Crisis brought the world closer to nuclear war than it had ever been before.
America and its allies we concerned about Russia having Nuclear Missiles in Communist Cuba so close to a Western Country.
Whilst almost coming to war to stop the Nuclear missile deployment in Cuba, what the West didn’t realise is that they were already too late.
The Soviets had already deployed Nuclear Missiles in right in their back yard
Vogelsang, just 50km north of Berlin, in Soviet controlled Post War Germany.
A secret 5,800 hectare military installation had been purpose built by the Soviets in 1951 to house 15,000 army and civilians in more than 550 Buildings and bunkers.
In January 1959 it became home to the Soviet Army’s 72nd RVGK Engineers
The elite brigade once responsible for continued development of the NAZI V2 Rocket in 1946, at the end of WWII now had another task.
Without the knowledge of the German Authorities, as part of ‘Operation Atom’ they brought four mobile launchers and twelve SS-3 Shyster Intermediate Range Nuclear Missiles to Vogelsang and to another secret base nearby called Neuthymen (Furstenberg).
The Soviet’s now had Nuclear Missiles twenty times as powerful as the Hiroshima bomb right in the heart of Europe.
Four of the 19m long, 29 tonne missiles at Vogelsang were targeted at the UK’s PGM-17 (Thor) Nuclear bases in Norfolk and Lincolnshire, whilst others were programmed for population centres such as London and Paris.
With Cold War Tension in divided Germany rising fast, in September 1961, Khrushchev wisely chose to withdraw the nuclear weapons from Vogelsang, but later that year they were replaced with more powerful SS-4 (R-12 Sandal) missiles as part of operation Tuman, which also included new road signs, upgraded bridges and enhancements to the roads between Vogelsang and Russia, again all right under the noses of the Western Allies who remained unaware of the Nukes in their backyard.
Vogelsang later went on to store SS-12 Scaleboard missiles until 1988, and was home to the Red Army’s 25th Tank Division until they withdrew soviet forces completely in 1994.
The base is now abandoned and the huge site is being re-developed from the North and slowly reclaimed by nature from the South.
All that’s left to remind us of the sinister purpose of this now tranquil and peaceful forest are the overgrown remains, the occasional poignant graffiti and memories of some very different times indeed.