Rail Transportation Office
When it came to rail transportation, the three Western Powers maintained their own railway stations in the city. During the first years of the occupation, the US Army’s Rail Transportation Office (RTO) was located in Wannsee. In 1947, it moved to the Lichterfelde-West train station, thus placing it closer to important military facilities and barracks.
For this purpose, the Americans erected functional buildings near the freight station. The RTO was separate from the platform and tracks of the Berlin public transit system and operated autonomously. Tons of freight rolled between Lichterfelde-West and Frankfurt am Main as well as Bremerhaven, along with regular shipments of military equipment. However, this route was particularly important for troop transportation. The so-called Duty Train rode on both routes and in both directions daily, and was reserved to Western Allied military personnel and their dependents. During transit through East Germany, the trains were hitched to locomotives belonging to the GDR’s Deutsche Reichsbahn.
After German reunification in 1990, the military trains discontinued their service. The RTO ceased to exist upon the withdrawal of the armed forces, and the specially built American buildings were almost entirely torn down in 2008 – aside from a portion of the platform roof.
Today, the 1872 station building, constructed in the style of a Tuscan villa, once again dominates the area and is used by the Berlin S-Bahn. Back then, it had been built in conjunction with the development of the Lichterfelde villa settlement.
A few minutes by foot towards the Botanical Garden, on Unter den Eichen and Fabeckstrasse, two former hospitals that were once used by US forces come into view – unfortunately, they can only be viewed from the outside. The grounds of the former Stubenrauch district hospital today house a branch office of the German Federal Institute for Materials Research and Testing, which is not accessible to the public. From 1945 onward, the US Army maintained a military hospital in this building, which had been constructed in pavilion style in 1900.
In order to supply the US soldiers and their dependents stationed in Berlin with modern medical care, the US Army commissioned the construction of a hospital on Fabeckstrasse. The building, completed in 1976, largely consisted of an extensive one-story main building, above which rises a three-story wing with space for up to 200 patients. Due to time and cost constraints, the building was assembled out of prefabricated reinforced concrete components. It was transferred to the Federal State of Berlin in 1994. After a period of vacancy, it now accommodates several research facilities, access is not permitted.