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Beelitz is a town in the Potsdam-Mittelmark
Potsdam-Mittelmark is a Kreis in the western part of Brandenburg, Germany. Neighboring are the district Havelland, the district free cities Brandenburg and Potsdam, the Bundesland Berlin, the district Teltow-Fläming, and the districts Wittenberg, Anhalt-Bitterfeld and Jerichower Land in...

 district, in Brandenburg
Brandenburg is one of the sixteen federal-states of Germany. It lies in the east of the country and is one of the new federal states that were re-created in 1990 upon the reunification of the former West Germany and East Germany. The capital is Potsdam...

, Germany
Germany , officially the Federal Republic of Germany , is a federal parliamentary republic in Europe. The country consists of 16 states while the capital and largest city is Berlin. Germany covers an area of 357,021 km2 and has a largely temperate seasonal climate...

. It is situated about 18 km south of Potsdam
Potsdam is the capital city of the German federal state of Brandenburg and part of the Berlin/Brandenburg Metropolitan Region. It is situated on the River Havel, southwest of Berlin city centre....

, in a glacial sandur
A sandur is a glacial outwash plain formed of sediments deposited by meltwater at the terminus of a glacier.- Formation :Sandar are found in glaciated areas, such as Svalbard, Kerguelen Islands, and Iceland...

 plain surrounded by extended pine
Pines are trees in the genus Pinus ,in the family Pinaceae. They make up the monotypic subfamily Pinoideae. There are about 115 species of pine, although different authorities accept between 105 and 125 species.-Etymology:...

 woods. Beelitz is known for its cultivation of white asparagus
Asparagus officinalis is a spring vegetable, a flowering perennialplant species in the genus Asparagus. It was once classified in the lily family, like its Allium cousins, onions and garlic, but the Liliaceae have been split and the onion-like plants are now in the family Amaryllidaceae and...

 (Beelitzer Spargel), which is quite popular within the Berlin-Brandenburg region.


A 997 deed by Emperor Otto III
Otto III, Holy Roman Emperor
Otto III , a King of Germany, was the fourth ruler of the Saxon or Ottonian dynasty of the Holy Roman Empire. He was elected King in 983 on the death of his father Otto II and was crowned Holy Roman Emperor in 996.-Early reign:...

 mentions a settlement with the Slavic name Belizi, though this denotation may also refer to the nearby town of Belzig
Bad Belzig, also known as Belzig, is a historic town in Brandenburg, Germany located about southwest of Berlin. It is the capital of the Potsdam-Mittelmark district.-Geography:...

. The Saint Mary
Mary (mother of Jesus)
Mary , commonly referred to as "Saint Mary", "Mother Mary", the "Virgin Mary", the "Blessed Virgin Mary", or "Mary, Mother of God", was a Jewish woman of Nazareth in Galilee...

 and Saint Nicholas
Saint Nicholas
Saint Nicholas , also called Nikolaos of Myra, was a historic 4th-century saint and Greek Bishop of Myra . Because of the many miracles attributed to his intercession, he is also known as Nikolaos the Wonderworker...

 parish church was first mentioned in a 1247 report of a bleeding host
Sacramental bread
Sacramental bread, sometimes called the lamb, altar bread, host or simply Communion bread, is the bread which is used in the Christian ritual of the Eucharist.-Eastern Catholic and Orthodox:...

 miracle, that made Beelitz a medieval pilgrimage
A pilgrimage is a journey or search of great moral or spiritual significance. Typically, it is a journey to a shrine or other location of importance to a person's beliefs and faith...

 site. Since 1370 the host was kept in a small chapel adjacent to the church. When in 1731 King Frederick William I of Prussia
Frederick William I of Prussia
Frederick William I of the House of Hohenzollern, was the King in Prussia and Elector of Brandenburg from 1713 until his death...

 billeted a husar
Husar or HUSAR may refer to one of the following:*Húsar, a village at the Faroe Islands-People:*Lubomyr Husar, Major Archbishop Emeritus of the Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church*Martin Husár, a Slovakian football player, currently with Lillestrøm SK...

 regiment, Beelitz became a garrison town and today is home to a Bundeswehr
The Bundeswehr consists of the unified armed forces of Germany and their civil administration and procurement authorities...

 command. The cultivation of asparagus was first documented in 1861.

The village of Kanin, a subdivision of Beelitz since 2001, had been an exclave of the Electorate of Saxony
Electorate of Saxony
The Electorate of Saxony , sometimes referred to as Upper Saxony, was a State of the Holy Roman Empire. It was established when Emperor Charles IV raised the Ascanian duchy of Saxe-Wittenberg to the status of an Electorate by the Golden Bull of 1356...

 until 1815 and therefore a notorious smuggling
Smuggling is the clandestine transportation of goods or persons, such as out of a building, into a prison, or across an international border, in violation of applicable laws or other regulations.There are various motivations to smuggle...

 area as well as a destination for deserters
In military terminology, desertion is the abandonment of a "duty" or post without permission and is done with the intention of not returning...

 from the Prussian
Kingdom of Prussia
The Kingdom of Prussia was a German kingdom from 1701 to 1918. Until the defeat of Germany in World War I, it comprised almost two-thirds of the area of the German Empire...

 army. Its fieldstone church was erected about 1138 and today is the oldest preserved one within the Brandenburg state.

In 1928 the Telefunken
Telefunken is a German radio and television apparatus company, founded in Berlin in 1903, as a joint venture of Siemens & Halske and the Allgemeine Elektricitäts-Gesellschaft...

 company erected a radio
Wireless telegraphy
Wireless telegraphy is a historical term used today to apply to early radio telegraph communications techniques and practices, particularly those used during the first three decades of radio before the term radio came into use....

 station in the subdivision of Schönefeld for the wireless communication with North America. Together with the Nauen Transmitter Station
Nauen Transmitter Station
Nauen Transmitter Station in Nauen, Havelland , Brandenburg, Germany, is the oldest transmitting plant in the world. It was founded on 1 April 1906 by Telefunken engineer R...

 it was incorporated by the Reichspost
- Imperial Reichspost :* The Imperial Reichspost was the name of the postal service of the Holy Roman Empire, founded by Franz von Taxis in 1495...

 in 1932. After World War II
World War II
World War II, or the Second World War , was a global conflict lasting from 1939 to 1945, involving most of the world's nations—including all of the great powers—eventually forming two opposing military alliances: the Allies and the Axis...

 the station was used by the Deutsche Post of the GDR
Deutsche Post of the GDR
The Deutsche Post , also Deutsche Post of the GDR was the state-owned postal and telecommunications monopoly of the German Democratic Republic...

 until it finally went out of service in 1991.


Beelitz-Heilstätten, a district of the town, is home to a large hospital complex of about 60 buildings including a cogeneration
Cogeneration is the use of a heat engine or a power station to simultaneously generate both electricity and useful heat....

 plant erected from 1898 on according to plans of architect Heino Schmieden
Heino Schmieden
Heino Schmieden was a German architect.-Biography:Schmieden was born in Soldin, New March In 1866 Schmieden graduated from the renowned Bauakademie in Berlin with a diploma in architecture...

. Originally designed as a sanatorium
A sanatorium is a medical facility for long-term illness, most typically associated with treatment of tuberculosis before antibiotics...

 by the Berlin workers' health insurance corporation, the complex from the beginning of World War I
World War I
World War I , which was predominantly called the World War or the Great War from its occurrence until 1939, and the First World War or World War I thereafter, was a major war centred in Europe that began on 28 July 1914 and lasted until 11 November 1918...

 on was a military hospital of the Imperial German Army
German Army (German Empire)
The German Army was the name given the combined land forces of the German Empire, also known as the National Army , Imperial Army or Imperial German Army. The term "Deutsches Heer" is also used for the modern German Army, the land component of the German Bundeswehr...

. During October and November 1916, Adolf Hitler
Adolf Hitler
Adolf Hitler was an Austrian-born German politician and the leader of the National Socialist German Workers Party , commonly referred to as the Nazi Party). He was Chancellor of Germany from 1933 to 1945, and head of state from 1934 to 1945...

 recuperated at Beelitz-Heilstätten after being wounded in the leg at the Battle of the Somme. In 1945, Beelitz-Heilstätten was occupied by Soviet
Soviet Union
The Soviet Union , officially the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics , was a constitutionally socialist state that existed in Eurasia between 1922 and 1991....

 forces, and the complex remained a Soviet military hospital until 1995, well after the German reunification
German reunification
German reunification was the process in 1990 in which the German Democratic Republic joined the Federal Republic of Germany , and when Berlin reunited into a single city, as provided by its then Grundgesetz constitution Article 23. The start of this process is commonly referred by Germans as die...

. In December 1990 Erich Honecker
Erich Honecker
Erich Honecker was a German communist politician who led the German Democratic Republic as General Secretary of the Socialist Unity Party from 1971 until 1989, serving as Head of State as well from Willi Stoph's relinquishment of that post in 1976....

 was admitted to Beelitz-Heilstätten after being forced to resign as the head of the East German government.

Following the Soviet withdrawal, attempts were made to privatize the complex, but they were not entirely successful. Some sections of the hospital remain in operation as a neurological rehabilitation center and as a center for research and care for victims of Parkinsons disease. The remainder of the complex, including the surgery, the psychiatric ward, and a rifle range, was abandoned in 2000. As of 2007, none of the abandoned hospital buildings or the surrounding area were secured, giving the area the feel of a ghost town
Ghost town
A ghost town is an abandoned town or city. A town often becomes a ghost town because the economic activity that supported it has failed, or due to natural or human-caused disasters such as floods, government actions, uncontrolled lawlessness, war, or nuclear disasters...

. This has made Beelitz-Heilstätten a destination for curious visitors and a film set for movies like The Pianist
The Pianist (2002 film)
The Pianist is a 2002 biographical war film directed by Roman Polanski, starring Adrien Brody. It is an adaptation of the autobiography of the same name by Jewish-Polish musician Władysław Szpilman...

 from 2002 and Valkyrie
Valkyrie (film)
Valkyrie is a 2008 American historical thriller film set in Nazi Germany during World War II. The film depicts the 20 July plot in 1944 by German army officers to assassinate Adolf Hitler and to use the Operation Valkyrie national emergency plan to take control of the country...

 from 2008.


Beelitz is located at an old trade route from Berlin to Leipzig
Leipzig Leipzig has always been a trade city, situated during the time of the Holy Roman Empire at the intersection of the Via Regia and Via Imperii, two important trade routes. At one time, Leipzig was one of the major European centres of learning and culture in fields such as music and publishing...

, today the Bundesstraße 2. It also has access to the Bundesautobahn 9 at the Beelitz-Heilstätten and Beelitz junctions. Train service to Potsdam and Berlin is available at two railway stations.

International relations

Beelitz is twinned
Town twinning
Twin towns and sister cities are two of many terms used to describe the cooperative agreements between towns, cities, and even counties in geographically and politically distinct areas to promote cultural and commercial ties.- Terminology :...

  • Ratingen
    Ratingen is a town in the district of Mettmann, in North Rhine-Westphalia, Germany, in the northwestern part of Berg - about 12 km northeast of Düsseldorf...

    , North Rhine-Westphalia
    North Rhine-Westphalia
    North Rhine-Westphalia is the most populous state of Germany, with four of the country's ten largest cities. The state was formed in 1946 as a merger of the northern Rhineland and Westphalia, both formerly part of Prussia. Its capital is Düsseldorf. The state is currently run by a coalition of the...

     since 1990
  • Alfter
    Alfter is a municipality in the Rhein-Sieg district, in North Rhine-Westphalia, Germany. It is situated approx. 6 km west of Bonn.-Location:The community of Alfter lies west of former capital of Bonn, on the southern Ridge of the "Vorgebirge"...

    , North Rhine-Westphalia

External links