Hidden in the small Eifel village of Urft lies the secret so-called “Alternative Seat of the State Government”. Officially disguised as “Eifel Warning Station”, North Rhine-Westphalia’s government bunker is the little brother of the “Marienthal facility”, the federal government’s nuclear emergency seat near Ahrweiler.
It was the Cold War. The USA and the Soviet Union were on the brink of nuclear war when the state government established the bunker as emergency headquarters. Here, in a worst-case scenario, the government and experts hoped to survive the war and attempt to govern the devastated state. However, it was assumed that in case of nuclear war, 80 per cent of the population of Rhine and Ruhr would be killed. Any who needed to leave the bunker in an emergency would need to don heavy so-called ABC protective outfits. The original outfits can be seen hanging in the large glass case in front of you. They were intended to protect against atomic, biological or chemical agents.
Under Minister-President Franz Meyers, a three-storey bunker with walls up to three metres thick was built between 1962 and 1965 at a cost of ten million German marks. The entrance is disguised as the ordinary garage of a single-family house. The bunker itself is not visible, as it is built into the hill behind the garage. The interior of the “Alternative Seat” is entirely devoid of luxury. Only the Minister-President had a small single bedroom. In an emergency, his wife would not have been allowed into the bunker. Not until 1994 was the facility decommissioned.