Last weekend I traveled with Jan, "jant-photo" to a military site with abandoned tanks, next to Aachen, Germany.
The area, called "Brander Wald" is publicly accessible in between field exercises with tanks and soldiers.
Once exercises take place, a red flag is hoisted and you should not enter the forest anymore.
This activity is also the reason you're able to visit 4-5 abandoned tanks here, that are used as props in the maneuvers.
The tanks are completely stripped in the inside and mostly from the cold war area as Jan guessed from the model types. I'm generally not fascinated by war, although being interested in how it shaped our lives and culture historically.
If they had been "used" or not, the tanks were definitively killing machines and I felt a bit of an unease visiting them now. Yet as a technological device and piece of living history they have a certain fascination to them. Especially as German it might be a typical thing to have this opposing view. The war is still something very current in my family - my grandparents experienced the war first-hand and my parents the after-math with the regime in East Germany.
While the tanks were originally the reason for us coming here, the nature next to the tanks turned out to be much more interesting.
Having said jokingly to Jan before how awesome it would be for birds to nest in the tanks, we actually turned out finding a nuthatch family in one of the gun barrels.
They didn't seem to mind us too much and we were able to go up to a few meters to take some photos.
(sorry for the crappy photo, but I only had a short lens with me)
Really a wonderful, peaceful re-use of those old war machines.
After we found this tank which was a bit apart from the others, we went to search the supposedly last tank, which we could however not find. Even so, this lead us back to the first area with tanks, where we met two nice kindergartner ladies, who were setting some young frogs free. They told us how they saved the small tadpoles from drying out in the grass and grew them up in the kindergarten, for the children to watch .
When there are no maneuvers in the forest they often go to the ponds next to the old tanks with their kindergarten children and look out for frogs and newts. They said the children are always very excited when a newt comes to the surface of the pond. When we were there, we were able to spot a few newts, a female sand lizard and a frog, who steadily stayed on his place in the pond even when I got up close to a few centimeters.
That's it for now! It was really lovely to see how nature takes back the place and makes use of the new ecosystems (meadows, ponds) created by the military use of the area. It's not wonder how many former military training areas in Germany are declared as nature sanctuary, once the training is over.