Berlin Zoo Flak Tower

Type   2 Fortification
Historical Name of Location   Berlin, Germany
Coordinates   52.510000000, 13.335800000


ww2dbaseThe Berlin Zoo Flak Tower, or Flakturm Tiergarten, was the first of several anti-aircraft gun towers ordered to be built by Adolf Hitler after the British Royal Air Force bombers raided Beriln, Germany on 25 Aug 1940, which caused much embarrassment to the German leadership. Professor Friedrich Tamms, the chief architect, submitted the final design for Hitler's approval in Mar 1941, and the Berlin Zoo Flak Tower was completed later in the same year. It was designed in the Neo-Romantic style, which was favored by Hitler, with some elements of Medieval fortresses. Its proximity to the Berlin Zoo gave the tower its name, and that location was selected not only for the tactical location but also for being in a busy part of the city so that its presence would raise morale. The name, with its singular form, referred to the taller reinforced-concrete building (approximately the same height as a 13-story building, occupying a 70-meter by 70-meter space) which had anti-aircraft guns on its rooftops, had a 85-bed hospital on the third floor, and held artifacts and other precious cultural treasures on the second floor; it also had a smaller building that served as its annex, which held radar equipment. The armament found at the top of the main tower consisted of four 12.8-cm twin FlaK 40 mounts, supported by 20-mm and 37-mm guns on lower platforms. 8 meters of concrete protected the main tower's sides and 5 meters of concrete protected the rooftop. The main complement of the taller tower was 350 military personnel with some Hitler Youth in assistance, but the building had the capacity to hold 15,000 people and stored very large quantities of food and ammunition. When Soviet troops reached Berlin in 1945, the Berlin Zoo Flak Tower served both as a shelter for civilians as well as a field headquarters for the defenders. The anti-aircraft guns were depressed at low angles, achieving success as anti-tank guns, preventing the Soviets from crossing the Moltke Bridge for some time. When the Soviets declared victory in Berli, the tower was actually still firmly under German control; its thick walls withstood all forms of Soviet attempts to damage them. Soviet troops only gained control of the Berlin Zoo Flak Tower after its commanding officer, Colonel Haller, surrendered. After the war, the shorter tower was demolished by the British on 28 Jul 1947. On 30 Aug 1947, British engineers set off 25 tons of explosives inside the taller tower, and they were surprised to find the tower still standing after the dust cleared; it was finally demolished with 35 tons of explosives on the third attempt in 1948. The land that the two buildings previously occupied were later taken over by the Berlin Zoo.

Steven Zaloga, Defense of the Third Reich 1941-45

Last Major Update: May 2013

Berlin Zoo Flak Tower Interactive Map

Berlin Zoo Flak Tower Timeline

28 Jul 1947 British engineers demolished the smaller building of the Berlin Zoo Flak Tower complex in Berlin, Germany.
30 Aug 1947 British engineers set off 25 tons of explosives in a failed attempt to demolish the main building of the Berlin Zoo Flak Tower in Berlin, Germany.


10.5 cm FlaK 38 gun and crew atop the Berlin Zoo Flak Tower, Berlin, Germany, Apr 1942Crew of a Flakvierling 38 anti-aircraft gun atop the Berlin Zoo flak tower, Berlin, Germany, 16 Apr 1942; note range measuring device in foreground and radar station in backgroundThe Berlin Zoo flak tower after the battle, Germany, 1945; note two destroyed IS-2 tanks in foregroundMain building of the Berlin Zoo Flak Tower, being used as a British-manned hospital, Berlin, Germany, 1946

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Modern Day Location
WW2-Era Place Name Berlin, Germany
Lat/Long 52.5100, 13.3358
Berlin Zoo Flak Tower Photo Gallery
10.5 cm FlaK 38 gun and crew atop the Berlin Zoo Flak Tower, Berlin, Germany, Apr 1942
See all 4 photographs of Berlin Zoo Flak Tower

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