Skip to: Content
Skip to: Site Navigation
Skip to: Search


As missile debate simmers, a German group plans a bunker

(Page 3 of 3)



Water would come from an underground vein. In the particular site Rohner has found, the vein is situated diagonally around the site, permitting water to be taken from the higher part of the vein and sewage to be routed into the lower part to be carried away. The sewer would be an open canal with a narrow walkway alongside it. Food would be stored in dried and canned form in small rooms in the shelter. This would be sufficient for survival, but provisions would also be made for some fresh food to give variety to the diet. Greens would be grown in a large interior hallway under artificial light. Special rooms would house cattle and chickens, in order to allow each inhabitant occasionally to have milk and eggs.

Skip to next paragraph

Facilities for medical care would be part of the shelter, and Rohner plans to recruit medically trained people.

But mere survival is not the sole goal of the shelter. While waiting for the bombs to stop falling and for the radiation to dissipate, people would have work to do. ''Each person must learn some kind of handwork,'' says Rohner. A variety of skills must be represented in the group so that a wide range of services be available, as the members try to rebuild after they come out of the shelter.

In addition to learning a skill, each able-bodied adult will be expected to work an eight-hour shift: cleaning, repairing, guarding, recycling, cooking, tending animals. The biggest job would be digging to complete a new exit tunnel, presuming it was necessary to completely block the original one. Rohner considers meaningful work vital to the survival of the inhabitants. He say, ''We can't just go down there and sit.'' The community would even have its own newspaper and school.

A control room would maintain contact with the outside world by monitoring broadcasts, if any. When radiation returned to levels thought to be safe, workers would come out to begin the next project: planting crops.

First, three or four inches of topsoil would be peeled off with bulldozers to avoid use of contaminated soil. Then glass houses would be put up to protect crops from any additional radiation. Seed would be grown in the shelter so that enough is available for a second planting in case the first year's crop fails. Inhabitants would come out of the shelter with the equivalent of two suitcases full of possessions per person.

The work on Rohner's plan is scheduled to begin immediately, he says. He has found a potential site near Kallstadt, the next village down the road from his hometown of Ungstein. A geologist offered his services gratis and pronounced the site nearly ideal.

The land belongs to the village. Soon Rohner will ask the 15-member city council for permission to use the land. If they vote favorably, construction may begin.

''The club can vote to begin construction at any time,'' Rohner says. He offers this scenario:

The 40 members vote to chip in an average of 3,000 marks ($1,200) each. The physical labor each must pledge to construction of the shelter when they join the club can be considered to add one-third to the value of the cash investment. This means, Rohner says, the club can qualify for a loan of 640,000 marks, which in all would provide enough, Rohner estimates, to build the entrance gate and 25 meters of tunnel. If the shelter is built to accommodate 3,000 people, it would cost about 75 million marks ($30 million) - 25,000 marks ($10,000) a person. The per capita cost would rise for a smaller shelter.

A major factor in the shelter's financing is the concept of an ''economic zone.'' This is a part of the shelter that would be rented out as office or work space for everyday use in peacetime. The club would receive rent from the business use of this portion of the shelter (which is also inside the area considered safe from a direct strike of a 1 megaton bomb), and the people who worked there would have protection in event of a sudden attack. When the shelter is completed and paid for, the rent from businesses would be rebated to the members.

So far, Rohner says, there is only one large shelter in West Germany. It's located in Bavaria and could accommodate 100 people. Another architect in Frankfurt has plans similar to Rohner's.

Switzerland, Rohner says, already has large shelters that would accommodate 700,000 people, 13 percent of its population. West German shelters would hold only 0.2 percent. France and Great Britain have built similarly infinitesimal numbers of shelter.