B-05 Arts and Design Center

About 2 weeks ago, we had the chance to visit the former Horressen Ammunition Depot, which has been converted by Jan Nebgen and his wife Leisa in 10 years of hard work into an Art and Design Center. I was serving there in the mid 80s, at the end of the cold war, in the Rak. Art. Btl. 350 which was operating MGM-52 Lance Rockets and missile launchers for conventional and chemical warheads, as well as for the nuclear W70 warheads of our American allies. The W70-3 was a warhead which had enhanced nuclear radiation, and was often described as some kind of neutron bomb. But while the real neutron bomb was designed to discriminate between people and hardware, and only kill biology by radiation, the W70-3 actually destroyed everything and by radiation just "made sure" nobody was left behind alive. The conventional heads were designed for fire support and carried so-called "cluster bombs" which have the purpose of devastating indiscriminately large areas. As the Lance rockets only had a medium range, our potential targets were in the Communist German Democratic Republic, today the "Neue Bundeslaender", and for many of us aiming at our family members who remained East of the Cold War's Iron Curtain. As I was serving in encrypted communication, I knew what our Commanders were talking about during maneuvers. We sometimes called Dresden "Slaughterhouse Number 6". It was meant to be a kind of humor. And I think when you put 19 to 20 year olds in such an apocalyptic scenario, regularly at three in the morning, they tend to make bad jokes to cheer themselves up a bit. We were not there to maintain peace in the way it is tried today in some unfortunate countries. We were the threat of total destruction of all life on earth. And we hoped that we were scary enough, that nobody would every try it out. So far my little personal history with this place.

 Last time I crossed this gate, I was in a different movie.

Last time I crossed this gate, I was in a different movie.

Since the depot is abandoned, Jan & Leisa found this a perfect site to be converted into an Art- and Design Center. And it is. The region is developing economically quite well, but when we are there, we always look for something cultural, and find there is a serious under-supply. This is where B-05 could play an outstanding role. There were excellent events there, for example the Apocalyptic Opera with Werner Herzog. But there are many problems the two are facing. First of all the former top secret site, is obviously not easy to find. But even more, the extremely tight budget, has been dropped by the main sponsor (Skoda) recently. It is a gloomy place, yes. And for a car brand, I understand that marketing departments are questioning whether this is doing their positioning good. The government budgets are small and not available. The public institutions spend their time on talking about the problem and are (again) pretty useless. And the local business people don't understand what's happening and are too busy building shopping malls. If this place would be close to Berlin, it would have a great future. But out here, it would need committed financial support to launch something which is not a missile.