The stationing and accommodation of Western Allied forces in Berlin following the Second World War initially represented an expression of the victors’ sovereign power. However, with the coming of the Cold War – particularly the Berlin Blockade – the troops altered their significance for the city. Large portions of the armed forces were now housed in barracks over the long term. Whereas Turner Barracks was located in Dahlem, the three large barracks – Andrews, McNair, and Roosevelt – lay in the Lichterfelde district.
The grounds of Andrews Barracks can look back upon a long history of military use, even though few traces remained of the Prussian Main Military Academy of the early Bismarck era. After various uses as a high school, an educational institution, and a police facility during the Weimar Republic, the Leibstandarte SS Adolf Hitler was based here between 1933 and 1945. The American occupiers greatly expanded the site in 1951. They added a church in 1952/53, then a residential building for married noncommissioned officers in 1958, and finally a satellite radio signalling station in 1974. In addition to the US Army Engineers and the US military police along with their military prison, specialists from the listening post atop the Teufelsberg and the 298th US Army Band, which Berliners also knew and loved, resided in the barracks as well. Following the Americans’ withdrawal, the site was redeveloped and has served as a German Federal Archives location since 1995.
Starting in 1947, the barracks bore the name of Lieutenant General Frank Maxwell Andrews (1884–1943), the former commander of US Armed Forces in Europe, who died when his B-24 crashed during an inspection flight over Iceland. Following the Americans’ withdrawal, the site was redeveloped and has served as a German Federal Archives location since 1995.
Access to the grounds of the German Federal Archives and the public buildings – such as the library in the former Andrews Chapel – is permitted, but it normally requires verbal permission at the gate. Just a few meters from the entrance, a temporary pavilion houses the exhibition “The New Building of the Federal Archives in Berlin – Located between Contradictory Contexts of German History,” which informs visitors on the past and future of the site and which is complemented by an online exhibition.
The sacred building to the left of the entrance was open to Americans of all faiths. Today it houses a special library belonging to the Archives of the Parties and Mass Organizations of the GDR in the German Federal Archives. It encompasses some 1.7 million volumes.
Outside the current grounds of the German Federal Archives is located a swimming pool that was built in 1937/38. In its day, it had been Berlin’s largest indoor pool. In 1971 the Americans renovated it and used it jointly with Berlin schools over the following years. Today the indoor pool is operated by the Berliner Baeder-Betriebe, the city’s swimming pool authority.