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Inside the former Iraqi Embassy in East Berlin

Petar Djajkovski

Graffiti on the window of an abandoned building states “OUR HOUSE in the middle of IRAQ.” The building is not in Iraq but Berlin, although it was formerly in Iraq. How so? It used to be a residence of the Iraqi embassy mission in Eastern Germany.

The building is now in disrepair; sporting smashed doors and windows, broken glass, and broken toilet seats, collapsing ceilings, peeling walls, and charred rubble. The building also contains reams of moldy paperwork documents and letters in Arabic with information about Iraqi and German citizens.

Abandoned Iraqi Embassy in Berlin – Author: :)gab(: – CC BY 2.0

Abandoned Iraqi Embassy in Berlin – Author: :)gab(: – CC BY 2.0

Iraq was the first non-socialist country in the world to recognize the German Democratic Republic, also known as East Germany, as a sovereign country in 1969. This opened a doorway for Iraq and the German Democratic Republic to establish strong international relations. This led to the construction of an embassy in East Berlin on┬áTschaikowskistra├če 51. The building construction was started in the early 1970s and was completed by 1974. The same year, the Iraqi consulate moved into the austere, concrete socialist building.

Abandoned Iraqi Embassy in Berlin – Author: :)gab(: – CC BY 2.0

Abandoned Iraqi Embassy in Berlin – Author: :)gab(: – CC BY 2.0

The building was constructed in the socialist style that was very popular in communist Eastern Europe at the time of the Warsaw Pact and afterward. Big concrete pillars and walls represented the stable social system of the communist countries.

Abandoned Iraqi Embassy in Berlin – Author: :)gab(: – CC BY 2.0

Abandoned Iraqi Embassy in Berlin – Author: :)gab(: – CC BY 2.0

However, in this case, the building is slightly different from the usual style mentioned. Modernist touches are present as the space features brick walls and is larger and more elegant.

Abandoned Iraqi Embassy in Berlin – Author: :)gab(: – CC BY 2.0

Abandoned Iraqi Embassy in Berlin – Author: :)gab(: – CC BY 2.0

Even today, the building is still a subject of certain ownership disputes. Technically, the building belongs to the Republic of Germany. However, the rights to it are still in the hands of Iraq. This dilemma of the ownership situation has left the building in disrepair, and hundreds of locals and urban explorers visit it annually.

Abandoned Iraqi Embassy in Berlin – Author: :)gab(: – CC BY 2.0

Abandoned Iraqi Embassy in Berlin – Author: :)gab(: – CC BY 2.0

The embassy and its mission were subject to controversy from its establishment, as Iraqi consulates were rumored to have dealings with politicians on the other side of the wall as well. They were finally caught red-handed in 1980 when the secretary of the embassy and the head of Iraqi intelligence were discovered with a suitcase full of explosives.

Abandoned Iraqi Embassy in Berlin – Author: :)gab(: – CC BY 2.0

Abandoned Iraqi Embassy in Berlin – Author: :)gab(: – CC BY 2.0

This sharpened the relations between the two countries but the embassy was still standing and functioning in East Berlin.

Abandoned Iraqi Embassy in Berlin – Author: :)gab(: – CC BY 2.0

Abandoned Iraqi Embassy in Berlin – Author: :)gab(: – CC BY 2.0

After this, in 1990 a report states that massive amounts of weapons and explosives were confirmed to be found inside the embassy. The situation was tense until the end of the Gulf War in January 1991 when the new reunified German government ordered the Iraqi consulate to leave the country.

Abandoned Iraqi Embassy in Berlin – Author: :)gab(: – CC BY 2.0

Abandoned Iraqi Embassy in Berlin – Author: :)gab(: – CC BY 2.0

Once ordered to move out, the Iraqi officials, it seems, left in a hurry and left a lot of possessions and papers behind. Even though 26 years have passed since it was abandoned, and many urban explorers and locals have been inside, the building is still standing and holds some Iraqi memorabilia and some of the original furniture. Original documents lie randomly spread all over the place, as well as rusty typewriters and rotten books.