Arriving into the Gesundbrunnen U-Bahn, I walk to the station entrance only to be guided back in to a green door. On the other side awaited a starkly cold World War II bunker. Led by a wonderfully sarcastic Canadian, 12 others and I are ushered into a narrow corridor to begin the Berlin Underworlds Association tour. Immediately we are warned not to touch the paint on the walls, or specifically to lick (as this is usually my first urge when entering an underground bunker) since it came with the warning of severe diarrhoea if ingested.
The tour continues along a toilet lined wall and winds into a room where the walls glow after the lights cut out (remember the diarrhoea paint?). This was when we discovered that the bunker was not actually bomb proof and instead served as an illusion of safety for the general public to believe in during the war.
Delving further into the bunker unearthed a wealth of stories from the war, hidden among salvaged pieces such as guns and cutlery to a medical room that frequently witnessed the beginning and end of lives.
The highlight of the tour for me involved the medical room. While giving the same tour a few weeks earlier, the guide was in the medical room when an old woman came forward with her birth certificate. Written under the place of birth was Gesundbrunnen station; she was standing in the room she was born in during World War II.
Despite being under the possible threat of death, life reigned and surpassed this terror, triumphing still 60 years on.
Check out the Berlin Underworld further on http://www.berliner-unterwelten.de/tour-1.13.1.html (including some awesome snaps).