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Reaktivierung von Bunkern und Schutzraumtüren

Reactivation of bunkers and shelters

In the Federal Republic of Germany, there are still a large number of shelters and bunkers built during the Cold War. Most of these protective structures have been forgotten over the years and were usually neither serviced nor maintained for decades.

With targeted measures, we can reactivate existing protective structures and make them ready for use.


Civil defense bunkers and shelter buildings

Schutzraum Aufbau

Task and use of bunker buildings

The majority of German civil defence bunkers and shelters were built during the Cold War. These protective structures were primarily built to protect against armed conflicts and had to withstand nuclear, biological, chemical and conventional weapons.

When building shelters at that time, a distinction was made between:

  • public shelter facilities

  • private shelters

In 1997, there were a total of around 2,000 public shelters and around 9,000 private shelters in Germany. These shelters could provide protection for around 3% of the population. From 1997 onwards, the dismantling of the existing shelters began, so that when an inventory was taken in 2022, only 599 public shelters were still available. Not a single one of these civil defence facilities is operational. [ 1 ]

Historical development in Germany

Over the last 25 years, the construction and maintenance of shelters in Germany has been gradually stopped. Below is a brief overview of the political decisions of the past few years

Comparison with neighboring countries

In recent years, structural civil protection has been treated very differently in European countries. Switzerland, Finland and Sweden are at the forefront in terms of existing shelter structures. The Swiss Federal Office for Civil Protection (FOCP) stipulates that a shelter space must be available for every citizen. [ 1 ]

Emergency exit with staircase descent from shelter and bunkers

Emergency exit of a civil defense bunker

In contrast to these countries, there is not a single operational shelter facility available for the German population. [ 2 ]


Reactivation of private shelters

Private house shelters (built before 1996)

Between 1968 and 1996, approximately 9,000 private home shelters were built in Germany. The construction of these shelters had to be carried out in accordance with the law on structural measures for the protection of the civilian population (SchBauG).

According to Section 3 Paragraph 1 of the SchBauG, shelters had to meet the requirements of “basic protection” and provide protection against falling debris, radioactive precipitation, fire effects and against biological and chemical warfare agents.

The shelters at that time were divided into two categories:

  • Home shelters - basic protection

  • Home shelters - Reinforced protection (3 bar)

Reactivate the shelter in the basement through specialist planning

House shelter for 7 people

Construction of private home shelters

Shelters of this type consist of solid walls and ceilings made of reinforced concrete and are usually located in the basement of residential buildings. The room layouts and arrangements are usually similar and include:

  1. Entrance area with lock (equipped with pressure door and gas door)

  2. Lounge with beds

  3. Dry toilet (WC)

  4. Ventilation unit with hand crank

  5. Sand filter room in combination with emergency exit shaft

Home shelter from Germany can be renewed and reactivated by the shelter center

Air flow in house shelters (built before 1996)

The air is guided through the emergency exit shaft. A self-actuating air flow safety device is installed between the filter chamber and the emergency exit shaft, which protects against excess pressure on the intake side. The filter chamber is filled with a special filter sand, which filters particles out of the intake air.

The ventilation unit is located in the shelter itself and uses a hand crank to pump air into the shelter. The ventilation unit itself can be switched between normal air and protective air using the shut-off valve with a quick-closing flap.

The exhaust air is directed into the entrance lock via the exhaust air fitting. From there it is released outside via the overpressure fitting.

Reactivation of private home shelters

Existing shelters can be reactivated with targeted measures and manageable effort. The reinforced concrete walls are usually still in good condition, so the focus of the repairs is on the shelter doors and the ventilation system.


Shelter doors

Depending on the condition of the doors and seals, the installed pressure and gas doors can continue to be used. In the case of major damage (rust, leaks, etc.) we offer suitable new doors with installation for the house shelter.

Ventilation units

There are no longer any spare parts or replacement units available for the ventilation units installed at that time. On the other hand, the filter sand has become enriched with moisture over the years, so that in most cases the filter air operation is no longer guaranteed.

To ensure a safe air supply, we can install new ABC ventilation systems with suitable overpressure explosion protection valves. These systems are equipped with gas filters and can also be operated without sand filters. The shelter ventilation system therefore offers protection against atomic, chemical and biological warfare agents.

expert advice

As part of our expert advice, we create a reactivation plan for the existing shelter and offer the appropriate components as well as the assembly service for the complete reactivation of your shelter.

We would be happy to advise you on this in an initial, non-binding telephone conversation.

Build a shelter in the basement, shelter accessories, buy a bunker in Munich

Reactivation of public shelter facilities

Public shelters in Germany

The public shelter facilities in Germany include air raid shelters in the form of high and underground bunkers as well as old tunnel systems, which were mainly built for security reasons during the Second World War. In addition, since the 1960s, multi-purpose facilities such as underground car parks or train stations have been newly built or renovated, particularly in urban areas.

Between 1959 and 1997, fully and partially protected auxiliary hospitals were also set up, although their use as auxiliary hospitals was discontinued in 1997 and they were converted into public shelters. In the old federal states, there were a total of around 2,000 such facilities.

In 2007, the construction of public shelters was also abandoned, meaning that no more maintenance was carried out on existing shelters. A large proportion of these buildings were also deconsecrated and dismantled.

When an inventory was taken in 2022, 599 public protective structures were still available, although none of these facilities are operational. [ 1 ]

Shelter doors of a civil defence bunker in Germany for protection

Shelter door made of reinforced concrete

Construction of public shelter facilities in Germany

Most of the public shelters from the Cold War were built according to the structural principles of the Federal Ministry for Regional Planning, Building and Urban Development. Many of the shelters were built as multi-purpose buildings, so that underground car parks or subway stations could be used as civil defense facilities to provide protection for a large number of people. The most important structural designs included:

  • Structural principles for large-scale shelters for basic protection in conjunction with underground car parks as multi-purpose buildings

  • Structural principles for large-scale protection areas in connection with underground railways (stops/stations) as multi-purpose buildings

Construction principles for large shelters. Connection with underground car parks as multi-purpose buildings

Large-scale protection area of basic protection in connection with a

Underground car park for 700 people

The entrances and exits of the German multi-purpose facilities were equipped with special shelter doors and gates. In an emergency, the access openings to the underground car parks could be sealed pressure-tight with the massive gates. Locks with lock doors were provided in the buildings for passenger traffic, which also allowed people to enter or leave the civil defense facility at a later date.

For the air supply, fresh air was drawn in through an intake shaft and decontaminated using a sand filter and gas filter. The filtered air was then distributed through ventilation pipes in the civil defense facility via the ventilation system. The exhaust air was discharged to the outside via explosion protection valves.

Beds, dry toilets and medical equipment were stocked in the multi-purpose facilities for operations.

Shelter gates to close a civil defence bunker in Germany for reactivation

Shelter gate (left) and lock door (right)

Reactivation of public shelter facilities

Since 2007, no money has been invested in public shelter facilities, which means that most of the shelter components in them are rusted and no longer operational. However, with targeted measures, the facilities and their components can be reactivated.

Shelter gates and sliding walls

Shelter gates are made of 30-40 cm reinforced concrete and close off entrances to shelters. These special closures must ensure protection against explosion pressures, debris and splinters, gases and adequate shielding against radioactive radiation.

Most of the shelter gates have not been moved or maintained for decades. The gates' guide rails and rollers are usually heavily rusted, meaning that the gates can no longer be closed. Depending on the corrosion damage, the guide rails and rollers must be replaced or completely new shelter gates must be installed for reactivation.

Rollers and guide rail of a shelter gate

Repair and new production of shelter gates

The German Shelter Center offers expert advice on the reactivation of public shelter facilities.

We can repair existing shelter gates and armored sliding walls, but we can also manufacture and install new shelter closures such as armored sliding walls to measure.

Lock doors

Depending on the condition of the doors and seals, the installed lock doors can continue to be used. In the case of major damage (rust, leaks, etc.) we offer suitable new doors with installation.

Installation of a new armored sliding wall

Installation of a new armored sliding wall from us in Germany

Shelter ventilation systems

With the decommissioning of the public shelters, the ventilation equipment of the public shelters was partially dismantled.

Existing ventilation systems that have not been dismantled are still partially functional and can be reactivated with targeted measures. Depending on the condition of the system, components (gas filters, ventilation motors, etc.) can be partially replaced and renewed.

Reactivation of bunker ventilation system shelter ventilation system and commissioning shelter

Old shelter ventilation system


Our services

Build a shelter in the basement, shelter accessories, buy a bunker in Munich

We are Germany's experts for shelter construction and the reactivation of protective structures

We prepare expert reports for the reactivation of existing shelters. Based on the reports, we can prepare a reactivation plan for the existing facility and reactivate the shelter structure. We offer the following services:

  • Expert advice and preparation of reports on reactivation

  • Preparation of reactivation plans

  • Sales and installation of ventilation systems, gas filters, shelter doors, armored sliding walls, beds, dry toilets and furniture

  • Construction and reactivation of shelters and bunkers

Contact us for a free and non-binding consultation.

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