Dienststelle Marienthal by Andreas Magdanz, reviewed by Wayne Ford

The images above are iPad screen grabs.

Over a 12 year period commencing in 1960, the West German government constructed a secret underground bunker near Bonn — this vast complex contained 25,000 doors, of which only 38 would lead to the surface, and 900 offices. A product of the cold war it was designed to house 3,000 key government personnel in the event of a nuclear attack. At one stage the building was so secret, that to even acknowledge its existence was an act of treason. 

In 1998, German born Andreas Magdanz was granted access to three of the bunkers five sections (prior to the building being decommissioned), the resulting book, Dienststelle Marienthal (The Marienthal Government Bunker), takes is name from the official designation for the building. Reflecting upon this work Martin Parr and Gerry Badger write in The Photobook: Volume II (Phaidon, 2006), ‘Magdanz depicts an environment that is repetitive, uniform and soulless, lacking privacy and the more “civilized” amenities of living.’

Format: Compatible with iPhone and iPad.

Price: $4.99 

Comment: Dienststelle Marienthal is now a highly sought after book, commanding high prices on specialist auction sites. But Magdanz — who was an early adopter of digital technologies — has produced a digital version for the iPhone using MagBook® technology, in what he described as a’worldwide first’ when he first issued the app for the iPhone and iPod Touch in 2009. Whilst in my view this should not to be viewed as a substitute for the original book, it is a welcome opportunity for anyone interested in Magdanz’s powerful work to do so at a very democratic price.  


Content: 18/20

Design: 12/15

Value: 5/5

TOTAL: 35/40

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