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The WW2 Towers That Defeated the Soviets

The WW2 Towers That Defeated the Soviets


This episode of Real Engineering is brought
to you by Skillshare, home to over 20,000 classes that could teach you a new life skill. As WW2 drew to a close and the race to Berlin
reached it’s finale, two Soviet armies converged on the Third Reich capital. Marshal Georgy Zhukov from the North, and
Marshal Ivan Konev from the South. Motivated to beat the Americans and British
to claim Nazi technology and plunder for themselves. The Battle for Berlin raged for 17 days as
the soviet forces surrounded the city, but the Nazi’s surrender may have come sooner,
if not for one of the largest defensive structures ever built. As the 150th and 171st Soviet Rifle Divisions
began advancing across the Spree river, they met the Zoo tower, located within the Berlin
Zoo. A behemoth structure built as a centre for
anti-aircraft operations. Equipped with four 12.8 cm Flak 40 anti-aircraft
guns, together capable of firing 96 rounds per minute, and with a group of 20 mm and
37 mm anti-aircraft guns on the lower platforms, the Zoo Tower was a veritable death castle. A death castle, with no glaring design flaw
to lead to its destruction. Any aircraft that dared enter it’s 10 km
range was likely to meet its end, but on this day the Zoo tower turned its attention to
the ground and the approaching soviet armies and began unleashing powerful and accurate
fire. Reducing their tanks to smouldering scraps
of metal in short time, and halting their progress. The Soviet’s ordered the tower to be shelled
at range from their most powerful 203 mm Howitzer, a purpose built bunker buster, but the 100
kg rounds had little effect. With 2.5 metre thick steel reinforced concrete
walls, the tower was practically immune to shell damage. Even if a hole could be punched through with
repeated shots. The tower would remain standing, with no single
load bearing structure it would take an immense explosion to take down these towers. The soviets instead decided it best to circle
around the tower outside its effective range, and later negotiate a surrender. The Zoo Tower, was just the first of many
anti-aircraft towers built throughout major Nazi cities. Berlin had 3 pairs of towers forming a defensive
triangle around the city’s centre and central government. The first pair in Berlin Zoo, the next at
Friedrichshain and the third in Humboldthain. 2 more pairs were constructed to protect the
vital port of Hamburg, and finally 3 more pairs were constructed in Vienna, Austria
to form another defensive triangle around the city’s center. Amazingly, many of these towers remain intact,
despite numerous efforts to destroy them. Stark reminders for the inhabitants of these
cities of an evil war waged by their ancestors. The towers were ordered to be built by Hitler
after the devastating and merciless bombing raids of civilian targets in Berlin in 1940
by the British RAF. Furious, Hitler demanded top priority for
the project, ordering railway and shipping traffic to be diverted to satisfy the 1600
tons of material needed for every day of construction. With the help of forced labour the Zoo tower
was completed in just 6 months and used a total of 78 thousand tons of gravel, 35 thousand
tons of cement, and 92 hundred tons of steel, along with the immense amount of wood required
for the moulds that formed the shape of the towers. To this day you can still see the outlines
of the planks that formed this moulds. Each tower complex consisted of a tower pair. An attack tower, named the G-Tower and a communications
tower called the L tower. All communications towers took this rectangular
shape, and came equipped with radio equipment, spotlights, their own anti-aircraft guns and
were tasked with coordinating the attack. The attack towers came in a variety of shapes,
with the earlier generation fortresses taking this square form 42 metres high and 57 metres
wide with turrets on each corner. Later in the war, as supplies became more
scarce, the designs took the form of these 16-sided circular structures, 50.6 metres
high and 43 metres in diameter like this one in Augarten Park in Vienna. The attack towers were capable of firing 8000
rounds per minute, they formed a formidable air defence within their effective range,
but in all reality these towers had an extremely unimpressive track record with downing planes,
instead they acted primarily as a deterrent, any bomber that dared stray into their sights
would more than likely be shot down, but instead they mostly just kept well away from these
stationary positions. Each complex had an effective range of about
10 kilometres, so the complexes formed an important defence for the strategic positions
they covered, but left much of their cities unprotected. But these towers were more than just flak
towers, they served as valuable shelters for the civilian populations. Each tower had its own freshwater well and
vast stores of food. The towers had their own power generators,
with underground supply lines for fuel, and ofcourse massive stores of ammunition .The
towers even contained hospitals, with one tower containing a maternity ward where many
Berliners were born during air raids. Up to 15,000 civilians take refuge from the
relentless bombing. In the final days of the war up to 3 times
that number are reported to have crammed themselves into these concrete shells. Leading to horrifying conditions with people
dying in the cramped corridors with nowhere to bury them, toilets overflowing, and the
hospitals overflowing with injured and dead patients There are few visible signs of the devastation
these cities endured during the Second World War, thanks to the funding from the Marshall
Plan, cities were rebuilt brick-by-brick, removing the scars of the past. But these buildings remain, a testament to
the strength of their construction. All valuable materials have been stripped
from them, and multiple attempts have been made to destroy them, but with the proximity
of the surrounding city, and the thick concrete walls, the demolition has proven too costly
and difficult to undertake. Of the 6 towers in Berlin only one remains
mostly intact. The Zoo Tower was destroyed by British engineers,
but it didn’t go down without a fight. On the first attempt the engineers packed
it with 25 tonnes of dynamite, when the dust cleared the Tower remained standing. The tower finally collapsed on the third attempt
with 35 tonnes of dynamite, and from there the rubble was broken up and transported away,
and the land handed over to the Berlin Zoo where the hippopotamus park now resides. Both of Hamburgs attack towers remain, with
one being transformed into a nightclub and the other now acting as a giant energy storage
facility. The thick concrete walls provide fantastic
insulation, allowing the inside to be filled with 2 million litres of water which is heated
with biomethane and wood chip burners, solar panels on the roof, and waste heat from a
nearby factory. Providing heating for three thousand homes
and electricity for one thousand. All of Vienna’s towers remain, but only
one has been fully repurposed as an aquarium. Once again taking advantage of the thermal
stability of the interior for climate control of the tanks, while the walls of the aquarium
have been repurposed as a climbing wall. The attack tower of Arenbergpark has been
used as a storehouse for artwork too. This attack tower in Augarten park had one
attempted demolition, but it only managed to crack in the roof and collapse one of the
balconies,, and as a result the tower has been reinforced with steel wire to protect
the public from a possible collapse. Today these towers remain as a gargantuan
reminder of terrible war, but have been accepted and assimilated into the urban landscape. Parks have formed around them, zoos around
and inside them, and even have been repurposed to help towards a more sustainable future. You may have admired some of the shots in
this video, and I recorded all the footage you saw of the Austrian Flak Towers myself,
while on a road trip through Germany and Austria, which you can follow by watching my latest
vlog. I’m the type of person that never reads
instructions, I’d much rather dive in and learn through trial and error, and that has
led to some hilarious short comings with my drone cinematography. I only just recently discovered that I could
adjust the pitch and exposure of the drones camera in flight with small dials at the back. Had I actually went to the bother of watching
a few tutorials, like this drone videography course on Skillshare. I would have learned this lesson far sooner. These days you can teach yourself pretty much
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you love. .
A Premium Membership begins around $10 a month for unlimited access to all courses, but the
first 1000 people to sign up with this link will get their first 2 months for free. So ask yourself right now. What skill have you been putting off learning. What project have you been dreaming of completing,
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skill to gain. As usual thanks for watching and thank you
to all my Patreon supporters. If you would like to see more from me, the
links to my twitter, facebook, discord server, subreddit and instagram pages are below.


Reader Comments

  1. Basically we love destroying things,because we all today want to see that towers intact at least inside,so why destroy history? Un that moment the British didnt care but now yes

  2. Your numbers are so far off. There is no way this tower can fire 8,000 rounds a minute unless you are counting multiple small machine guns in that count to make it sound formidable. It could not fire anti aircraft shell that fast as all pics show it was a manual loading process. Maybe 5 to 20 rounds a minute is more like it.

  3. if in berlin get a tour https://www.berliner-unterwelten.de/en/guided-tours/public-tours/from-flak-towers-to-mountains-of-debris.html

  4. 0:20 While claiming tech and goodies was one of the reasons, the main reason soviets raced to Berlin was to send a message. They easily lost the most in that war, and if brits also got to put the flag on top of Reichstag then USSR would just be that-country-ravaged-by-germans for years to come. That'd make them seem weak. If they just wanted to plunder they'd be spreading out more instead of spearheading towards the capital at any cost.

  5. The Augarten G-Tower was damaged in 1946 when some kids played in it and accidentally ignited the Flak-ammunition.

  6. Defeated? Are you making a delusion? The germans lost big big time, and these towers extended the war a fraction. Stop making those kind of dream ups…

  7. "An evil war waged by their ancestors". So you just had to put that in there. Those ancestors are my ancestors.

  8. The secret behind these towers is the sandbox in which they were built, the sand absorbs the vibrations avoiding the concrete to crack.

  9. The bunker in Hamburg is not just a night club. There are also beyond other things a music school and a store for instruments. Everything because of the sound proof walls.

  10. "evil war"

    You forgot to add "fomented by the transparent desire of the British to quash Germany as a colonial power in the late 19th and early 20th century."

  11. let me remind you that the Soviets won WWII , they entered Berlin at least a full week before the west.

  12. I didn't realize the Red Army was defeated. They surely acquitted themselves very well at the Battle of Berlin.

  13. I didn't knew the soviets were defeated. Someone please tell those soldiers that planted the hammer and sickle red flag on top of the Reichstag. They seem to be under the impression that they won. Poor guys.They are in for a big surpise! They should have checked with YouTube first.

  14. Wasn't this the final level in MOH: airborne? I think it was called "der flakturm" which i think just means "the flak tower".

    Still haven't beaten that fucking level. Maybe i should play that game again. It was really good

  15. You jump onto that bitch on the last mission of medal of honor airborne. That level and building was crazy.

  16. Wow… the best builders and smartest minds tend to rise and state their existence in the darkest days of humanity.

    This ist really fascinating.

  17. German engineering. Well, war is over let's do something useful with our old FLAK towers. An energy restoring facility is what we need… let's do it..!

  18. I live in vienna :). I drive past the towers in the Augarten every day, sometimes one forgets the story of the two ^ D

  19. What a stupid statement !!!! Towers that defeated Soviets…. are you out of your mind? yes, they stopped their troops but not defeated them!!!!! Soviets were not that stupid so they went around them and war ended soon after. And YES, Soviets and Allies won the war. Towers that defeated Soviets, bloody fool !!!
    Now days kids who have no clue about War might think that all that is being said these days is true about War. This is a perfect example how misleading title can be.
    Brits claim that they broke Enigma code which is not true. They are trying to portrait themselves as some kind of geniuses when in fact three Polish mathematicians broke that code and passed that information to Brits.
    Jews cry now days how Hitler single out them for extermination and how many of them died in Polish death camps. First of all there was NO Polish death camps !!!!!!! And that is fact !!!!!!
    Germans build them and Germans operated them and that is a fucking fact !!!!!! Secondly on Hitlers list for extermination there was a lot of people not just Jews !!!!!!
    Anybody with higher education, teachers, doctors, military men, police officers, communists, mentally and physically disabled, those who were resisting and opposing Hitlers agenda. All of those people were coming from many different countries, be it Poles, Russians, Germans, Italians, French, Serbs just to name a few. Not just Jews for pete sake!!!! Yes, there was a lot of Jews who died in concentration camps but not as many as 20 million Soviets, 6 million Poles, 9 million Germans not to mention people from other nations.who perished in the War. Surprisingly they don't constantly cry about it and play some crazy victim card every time they turn around. Life goes on… that doesn't mean we should forget about it, on contrary we should all remember what happen and how it happen without twisted facts and numbers !!!!!!

  20. The title is misleading since the Soviet army was not defeated by these towers or any other German mean of defense.

  21. Too bad the good guys didn’t win. I wonder how much better off the world would have been had they.

  22. When sayin bolsheviks succeded in something – say "Russia".
    When sayin bolsheviks failed in something – say "Soviets".
    Be a worthy successor of PIG.

  23. It's like Hitler didn't lose the one world order captil built and all begging for it looks to me great idiots . Maybe Hitler never planned on winning just wanted to get top guys in America Britan Russia and he did for the church why they saved Nazis is Rome church my ass greed for all power all land all people on knees starving giving to them killing for them Rome

  24. This video was very interesting, I love that they managed to repurpose a lot of the towers. It's a symbol of overcoming a dark past.

  25. Thanks for that! I'd never heard anything about this until your vid so top marks for genuine novelty!!

  26. Pew pew pew pew pew pew pew pew pew pew pew pew pew pew pew pew pew pew pew pew pew pew pew pew pew pew pew pew pew pew pew pew pew pew pew pew pew pew pew pew pew pew pew pew pew pew pew pew pew pew pew pew pew pew pew pew pew pew pew pew pew pew pew pew pew pew pew pew pew pew pew pew pew pew pew pew pew pew pew pew pew pew pew pew pew pew pew pew pew pew pew pew pew pew pew pew pew pew pew pew pew pew pew pew pew pew pew pew pew pew pew pew pew pew pew pew pew pew pew pew pew pew pew pew pew pew pew pew pew pew pew pew pew pew pew pew pew pew pew pew pew pew pew pew pew pew pew pew pew pew pew pew pew pew pew pew pew pew pew pew pew pew pew pew pew pew pew pew pew pew pew pew pew pew pew pew pew pew pew pew pew pew pew pew pew pew pew pew pew pew pew pew pew pew pew pew pew pew pew pew pew pew pew pew pew pew pew pew pew pew pew pew pew pew pew pew pew pew pew pew pew pew pew pew pew pew pew pew pew pew pew pew pew pew pew pew pew pew pew pew pew pew pew pew pew pew pew pew pew pew pew pew pew pew pew pew pew pew pew pew pew pew pew pew pew pew pew pew pew pew pew pew pew pew pew pew pew pew pew pew pew pew pew pew pew pew pew pew pew pew pew pew pew pew pew pew pew pew pew pew pew pew pew pew pew pew pew pew pew pew pew pew pew pew pew pew pew pew pew pew pew pew pew pew pew pew pew pew pew pew pew pew pew pew pew pew pew pew pew pew pew pew pew pew pew pew pew pew pew pew pew pew pew pew pew pew pew pew pew pew pew pew pew pew pew pew pew pew pew pew pew pew pew pew pew pew pew pew pew pew pew pew pew pew pew pew

  27. Wow flak towers can assimilate but muslimes want to change the country to the cesspool they left to begin with.

  28. The Nazi’s were awful people. But God Dammit their engineers were genius. Absolutely incredible minds.

  29. I really don't understand how people get so blinded by symbolism that all logic goes out of the window. What was even the purpose of blowing up the flak towers? It was a complete waste of materials all around. It would have been so much easier to just renovate the building and turn it into some kind of military barracks, police station or even just a simple museum. But no, we need destroy all Nazi symbolism hence we will evaporate everything linked to them because fuck history that's why.

  30. Towers that defended the cities against the bombing of civilians are a reminder of an evil war?

    How stupid is that…

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