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Truppenübungsplätze Bergen und Münster-Süd

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The Bergen training area, known in German as the "Truppenübungsplatze Bergen und Munster-Süd" is the largest training area in Europe.

It is a combination of rifle ranges, along the Panzerringstrasse and a manoeuvre area inside it. The training area covers 28.400 hectares, including the ranges, barracks and bivouac areas.

The other training area, Munster-Süd is 6.350 hectares and is specificity meant for artillery and mortar training. It is called Munster-Süd to distinguish it from the Bundeswehr training area North of Munsterlager called Munster-Nord

History

Munster-Lager in Lower Saxony, (Not to be confused with Münster in Westfalia) was established as a troop training area in the 1890s. The Commander of the Infantry Regiment responsible for building the area was Colonel Paul von Hindenburg, the future General and President of the Weimar Republic. One of the largest target and viewing bunkers is the Hindenburg bunker. Other German generals commemorated by bunkers named after them are Ludendorf, the General Quartermaster who masterminded the German war effort and Lossberg, the defensive warfare specialist.

Munsterlager is also home to the excellent German Tank Museum.

Bergan has the metalled panzerringstrasse. On Munster Sud tracked vehicles have to make do with the dusty or muddy "Rollbahn" known, at least in some gunner regiments as the "wibbly-wobbly-way."

Tracked vehicles can only transit between Munster Sud and Bergan by the Weizendorf Corridor or the Soltau bypass. Woe betide any young officer leading a column of APCs tanks or SP Guns through Bleckmar, Nindorf or either Soltau or Wietzendorf!

Bergen was established in 1935 for Hitler's expanding Wehrmacht. The barracks at Bergen Belsen became the Panzerschule in 1939 establishing battle runs that are probably still in use.

Dark History

There is a dark side to the history of these training areas. Munster Nord is built on the site of a chemical weapons factory that produced chemical weapons in both world wars. Phosgene for the Kaiser and half a tonne of Sarin and Tabun for Hitler.

The concentration camp of Bergen Belsen nestles on the South East side of Bergan Ranges, so close to Hohne camp that according to this site, that the panzerschule moved out of Bergen Belsen in early 1945 to allow the barracks to be used as an overflow camp for Bergan Belsen Concentration Camp.

There are mass graves of soviet and other PW dotted around both training areas (The one North of Bivyplatz M records 50,000 dead). Many of these were worked to death building and maintaining the cobbled range roads.