Berlin Field Listening Station Certified SIGINT Signals Cold War NSA Army Challenge Coin
Berlin Field Listening Station Certified
National Security Agency / NSA SIGINT
Cold War Spy
Army / Joint
Condition: Used, and in nice shape. Please see pictures.
This coin is 1 3/4 inches in diameter. This coin was given to those operators certified in all SIGINT skills/tasks required for Field Station Berlin, the coin was earned, Circa 1980s.
Teufelsberg (help·info) (German for Devil's Mountain) is a man-made hill in Berlin, Germany, in the Grunewald locality of former West Berlin. It rises about 80 metres (260 ft) above the surrounding Teltow plateau and 120.1 metres (394 ft) above the sea level, in the north of Berlin's Grunewald Forest. It was named after the Teufelssee (i.e. Devil's lake) in its southerly vicinity. The hill is made of rubble, and covers an under-construction Nazi military-technical college (Wehrtechnische Fakultät). During the Cold War, there was a U.S. listening station on the hill, Field Station Berlin.
The US National Security Agency (NSA) built one of its largest listening stations atop the hill, rumoured to be part of the global ECHELON intelligence gathering network. "The Hill", as it was known colloquially by the many American soldiers who worked there around the clock and who commuted there from their quarters in the American Sector, was located in the British Sector. In July 1961, Mobile Allied listening units began operations on Teufelsberg, having surveyed various other locales throughout West Berlin in a search for the best vantage point for listening to Soviet, East German, and other Warsaw Pact nations military traffic. They found that operations from atop Teufelsberg offered a marked improvement in listening ability. This discovery eventually led to a large structure being built atop the hill, which would come to be run by the NSA (National Security Agency). Construction of a permanent facility was begun in October 1963. At the request of US government, the ski lifts were removed because they allegedly disturbed the signals. The station continued to operate until the fall of East Germany and the Berlin Wall, but after that the station was closed and the equipment removed. The buildings and antenna radomes still remain in place.
During the NSA Operations some other curious things happened: It was noticed that during certain seasons the reception of radio signals was better than during the rest of the year. The 'culprit' was found after a while: it was the Ferris wheel of the annual German-American Volksfest Festival on the Hüttenweg in Zehlendorf. From then on, the Ferris wheel was left standing for some time after the festival was over. While there were rumors that the Americans had excavated a shaft down into the ruins beneath, that was never proven, and was likely based on reports that those who maintained equipment in one of the first enclosed antenna structures accessed the upper levels of the inflated dome via an airlock that led to a "tunnel" that was embedded in the structure's central column. Speculation as to what might have existed within the highly restricted area frequently gave rise to rather elaborate but false rumors; one theory stated that "the tunnel" was an underground escape route, another that it housed a submarine base.
In the 1990s, as Berlin experienced an economic boom after German reunification, a group of investors bought the former listening station area from the City of Berlin with the intention to build hotels and apartments. There was talk of preserving the listening station as a spy museum. Berlin's building boom produced a glut of buildings, however, and the Teufelsberg project became unprofitable. The construction project was then aborted. As of the early 2000s, there has been talk of the city buying back the hill. However, this is unlikely, as the area is encumbered with a mortgage of nearly 50 million dollars. The site has been heavily covered in graffiti since the company abandoned the project. Since 1996, the site has been privately owned and is currently fenced off from the surrounding park. In the summer of 2016, landlord Marvin Schutte opened the site to visitors who are able to climb the listening station towers and admire the ever-evolving "street art gallery" that fills the site's abandoned buildings. The site and buildings have uneven surfaces, broken glass, and building debris. Accessing the main dome involves ascending a pitch dark stairwell in the centre of the building. As of April 2017, entry to the site is €5 payable at the main entrance gate and a sign informs visitors that it is open from 10am to "one hour before sunset." Following the announcement of plans to raze the facility and reforest the hill, talk of preserving the facility resurfaced in 2009, spearheaded by the Field Station Berlin Veterans Group, which hopes to have the memorial named in honor of Major Arthur D. Nicholson, the last military Cold War casualty, the U.S. Military Liaison Mission tour officer who was shot and killed by a Russian sentry near Ludwigslust on March 24, 1985. After no further construction was done after 2004, in 2006 the hilltop was categorised as forest in the land use plan of Berlin, thereby eliminating the possibility of building.
In September 2013, U.S. Army Teufelsberg veterans marked the fiftieth anniversary (1963-2013) of the construction of the permanent buildings for Field Station Berlin atop Teufelsberg with a special Commemorative issue of Cinderella stamps, and with the dedication of a commemorative plaque. The designer is T.H.E. Hill, the award-winning author of two novels about Field Station Berlin.