Spartan welcome at German bunker hotel
By Ina Fassbender
SUHL, Germany (Reuters) - Buried in the forests of Thuringia lies a Cold War bunker offering guests an experience they won't soon forget: a spartan night as a soldier in the former communist East Germany's People's Army.
Don't expect mini-bars, spa services and a warm welcome from staff.
Guests are handed People's Army trousers, jackets, belts, caps and a gas mask while a man in a major's uniform barks orders to march through the fir trees with luggage and find the bunker.
The Waldhotel Rennsteighoehe, which runs 16-hour "reality experience" packages, says it gives guests just what they want.
"Demand is strong. It is light-hearted and not meant to be too serious but people come to experience history and that is what they get," said Manuel Ebert, who works at the hotel.
After making their own bunk beds, women peel and chop potatoes for supper while men stand guard and prepare a barbecue where spicy local sausages are roasted.
The tourist soldiers are allowed to enjoy a treat after dark - beer, vodka and east German sparkling wine called Rotkaeppchen.
The bunker, whose entrance is concealed by a hut with army tanks parked outside, was built in the 1970s and run by the dreaded Stasi secret police, who imprisoned thousands of citizens they deemed to be opponents of the state. Continued...