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The Federal Property Administration Department decides on the further use of the former alternative quarters of the Federal constitutional organs
An information paper from the Regional Revenue Office, Coblence - Federal Property Administration Department

On December 9, 1997, the Federal cabinet decided to abandon the former alternative quarters of the Federal constitutional organs built in order to shelter all Federal constitutional organs in case of crisis or for defence purposes. The concentration of all constitutional organs in one comprehensively protected structure was intended to ensure that the government leadership maintained its full capacity to take action. The responsibility for the decision as to the further use of this property, which is unique in the Federal Republic in terms of its purpose and architecture, has since been transferred to the Federal Property Administration Department.

Around 1910 the construction of a new railway was begun in the Ahr valley. This railway was intended to shorten the way west in order to transport troops, equipment and supplies to France as fast as possible. After the Franco-German war in 1870/71 France was seen as the "arch enemy" and the natural adversary in the event of a new conflict. For the new railway, construction was started on a three kilometre tunnel cut in half by a valley. In 1914, while the tunnel for the new line was still unfinished, World War One broke out. Work on the railway and tunnel continued, but the end of World War One put also an end to the railway. Work was stopped, the tunnel was partially dynamited by the French and rendered impassable. In World War Two the tunnel was put to use once again. V-1 and V-2 missiles were assembled there, perfectly protected from allied bombing. Construction of the railway was not resumed, however. After the end of the war the tunnel was again partially dynamited. Trains thus never rolled along these tracks. Today, stretches of the A 61 motorway follow the former railway route.

After joining NATO in the late 1950s, the necessity arose for the young Federal Republic to construct a shelter for the government and the other constitutional organs. It was finally decided to use the abandoned tunnel in the Ahr valley. The topographic situation there offered various advantages for the plan. In particular, the fact that the tunnel is covered by slate rock up to 112 metres high and the spaciousness of the tube offered the best protection against all kinds of attack of all sort, possible nuclear bombing included. Its length and its division into independent segments made the tunnel system a target which would be difficult to attack and destroy. The former alternative quarters of the Federal constitutional organs were thus built in the valley of the Ahr between 1960 and 1972. Apart from the architecture of the structure, the concentrated quartering of all constitutional organs in one place in case of crisis is unique throughout the world. Until the decision was taken to close it down, the structure was kept top secret.

The property
The former three-kilometre railway tunnel became the principal gallery of the shelter. The valley section interrupting the tunnel was passable if necessary through an underground connecting passage at a level about sixty metres below the main gallery. In addition, there is also a large number of secondary galleries, emergency passages and air shafts driven from the old railway route. The underground tunnel system has a total length of 19 kilometres. The usable area of the structure underground totals 83000 square metres, with a volume of 370,000 cubic metres. All in all there are 38 connections to the outside world: four main entrances, plus a small access road inside the mountain, air shafts, emergency exits and hatches. Above ground the site extends over an area of about 19 hectares under Federal ownership.

The two parts of the tunnel labelled East and West are again divided into five autonomous segments, two of these being in the eastern part and three in the western part of the system. In most areas of the main gallery, false ceilings have been installed. On the ground floor a total of 897 rooms can be used as offices and conference rooms, covering 12.,600 m of floorspace. On the upper floor there are 936 bedrooms covering 13,600 m of floorspace, together with washrooms. The fixtures and fittings are very spartan. Offices and work rooms, quarters and furniture are simple and functional. Even for the leading representatives of the state there are only camp beds. The structure can at best be compared to a huge underground barracks. Each of the five autonomous and independently operational segments is equipped with technical installations to make life and survival possible within the structure. The amenities are best described by breaking the services down into the four elements of air, water, fire and earth..

Effective ventilation systems combined with air-conditioning and heating systems supply the working and accommodation areas. Air is drawn in through a complex pipe system which has been driven through the mountain, and subsequently extracted. In case of outside contamination the structure could be hermetically sealed by locking elements able to withstand pressures of up to 30 bar, or ventilated through protective filters.

Within the structure, drinking and industrial water is obtained from internal deep wells and cisterns. There is no connection to the extern public supply system. The waste water is drained into a public sewer, however. The water purification system has been designed so as to eliminate the likelihood of a system failure, even if the structure were fully occupied.

Fire (or electric energy)
Normally electricity is obtained from the external public power supply system, but each segment also possesses its own auxiliary facility (diesel generators) with an output of up to 1,250 kVA. Up to 1,200 m of fuel could be stored to power the generators.

Earth (or food)
In each of the five sections there is a canteen with dining hall in which three meals per day could be prepared and served for 600 persons.

Finally, the site also includes a number of external buildings: protective structures above the air evacuation and supply shafts, above the emergency exits, the aerial fields or the external fuel tanks.

The most recent efforts of the Karlsruhe Inland Revenue Office to sell the former government bunker in the Ahr Valley again failed to produce concrete results. The bunker will therefore be partly demolished and sealed. According to current estimates the cost be around 60 millions DM's.