Inside Germany's new spy HQ

Inside Germany's new spy HQ

In the heart of Berlin

Decorated with steel palm trees, the new BND headquarters sits right where the Berlin Wall used to bisect the city. The move signals a major symbolic change for Germany, no longer shying away from taking a prominent role on the global stage.

Inside Germany's new spy HQ

Palatial grounds

The limestone and aluminum-fronted complex covers 10 hectares (25 acres) and cost €1.1 billion ($1.25 billion). It is one of the world's largest secret service bases.

Inside Germany's new spy HQ

The thing

A huge monolith called "The Thing" (Das Ding) adorns the central courtyard of the new headquarters. The work was created by the Düsseldorf-based artist Stefan Sous, whose massive sculptures can be found in public squares thoughout Germany.

Inside Germany's new spy HQ

A glimpse inside

There are plans to open a visitors center at the new BND headquarters. This marks a massive shift for a populace that has long been suspicious of intelligence agencies, with memories of the Gestapo and the Stasi still alive. "A healthy distrust is helpful, but being overly suspicious is a hindrance," Chancellor Angela Merkel said at the opening.

Inside Germany's new spy HQ

Keeping tabs on time

The clock in the situation room shows the time in New York, London, Berlin, Moscow and Beijing. The building itself, however, did not open on time. A series of delays, mishaps and cost overruns. The inauguration in February 2019 came more than 12 years after construction began.

Inside Germany's new spy HQ

The situation room

Around 4,000 of the BND's 6,500 secret service agents work in the huge new building. Merkel stressed that Germany "needs a strong and efficient foreign intelligence service more than ever." International terrorism, global organized crime structures, as well as cybersecurity and nuclear proliferation are among the challenges the BND is looking to target.

The German Intelligence Agency (BND) has relocated to its massive new base in the capital after decades in provincial Pullach. The move is hugely symbolic for a country long skeptical of spy agencies.