Urban explorer Warren Tepper and his friend Matt Nadin are on borrowed time traipsing through an underground tunnel. They know a security van circles somewhere overhead, but they still keep pushing on deeper. And it’s a good thing that the pair carry on with their quest, too, as what they are about to uncover will not only astonish them, but also the world at large.
The site that Tepper and Nadin chose to explore has a very lengthy and potentially dark history, in fact. You see, the tunnels appear to have played a part in World War II. And their location points to who may once have used them, as they snake beneath Duisburg, Germany – a city that at one point was held by the Nazis until the Allied forces took over the area.
That historical draw could have been what pushed Tepper and Nadin to advance further underground. And yet the pair didn’t have time to research what they may find before their journey into the depths. As they ventured inside, then, they likely didn’t expect to find one terrifying vestige of a bygone, violent era.
Not every structure built decades or even centuries ago remains in use today. Historic or otherwise interesting buildings aren’t always preserved for posterity, either; instead, owners may abandon them to sit untouched for years to come. And these intriguing vestiges of the past are just what some people look for as part of their unique hobby.
Yes, urban explorers often seek out such neglected or otherwise abandoned structures along with hidden pieces of prominent buildings. Typically, they grab recording devices and cameras and head inside, documenting the interesting sights and sounds that they experience.
Such a hobby is not without its risks, however. For one thing, many buildings toured by urban explorers are privately owned, meaning any journeys inside can technically be considered trespassing. On top of that, the wear and tear to these structures may make venturing within a very risky endeavor.
Nonetheless, urban explorers such as Tepper persist in their search for – and exploration of – abandoned buildings and derelict places. And according to his website, the native of Hampshire is motivated by a desire “to see how [buildings] are now and picture how they used to be.” The Englishman makes a point to capture as much as possible of what he sees on film to boot – and for good reason.
Tepper explains on his website, “I like to take pictures and videos of all the places I visit to document my time there, as one day they will be gone, lost in time.” Even so, he makes a point of respecting the places that he investigates. The adventurer adds, “When I am exploring, I don’t damage or break anything. I take only pictures and videos of my time at the places I visit, creating memories.”
And sometimes Tepper even decides to share those memories with fellow urban explorers. That was the case with his 2018 trip to Duisburg, Germany, where he was accompanied by fellow abandoned structure enthusiast Nadin. Nadin co-runs a YouTube channel called Finders Beepers, and he and his partner Andy typically look into urban remnants in the U.K.
On this occasion, though, Nadin joined Tepper to check out Duisburg – and more specifically a series of underground tunnels that sit just beneath the surface of a former industrial area. It wasn’t easy to seek these features out, though, and Nadin makes that clear as he narrates a video of himself and Tepper on their trek into the historic underbelly of the German city.
In the clip, Nadin and Tepper are revealed to have spent quite a bit of time locating the spot that marks the entrance to the tunnels. Indeed, Nadin estimates that the pair have “been walking for about three miles” in order to find where they might get in. And there’s yet another hitch: the grounds have security. Nadin explains, “We’ve got to keep an eye out for… a little white van.”
Luckily for Nadin and Tepper, the security guard never shows up. This therefore gives the duo space to survey the scene and figure out what it is they’re actually seeking – although even they’re not quite sure. In the video, Nadin says to the camera, “We’re just coming into sight of some structures, some buildings, but I don’t know what is what.”
Nadin has an explanation for his and Tepper’s lack of knowledge, though, adding, “We’ve only been really given a small bit of information about this place – that there is some holes with bunkers.” Later, he clarifies further that the bunkers appear to have been used as protection during World War II.
Nadin continues, “Obviously, these bunkers were used in World War II. I don’t know much more than that, though. I don’t know what they were used for, whether it was for the city to come here, the people, the workers or what… There was another big factory over there, so I don’t know if it was used for that.”
A look inside the tunnels would help Nadin and Tepper to understand the structure’s significance, though. But first they have to get there, and so the pair follow what appears to be a beaten path in the assumption that it will lead to an entranceway. Then, finally, the men find a tiny opening that appears to be just what they’ve been looking for. Nadin laments of the sight, “You weren’t kidding about it being a little hole.”
Yet when Nadin and Tepper progress into the tunnels, they soon realize that they won’t be stuck in cramped conditions. The passageway they’re traversing stretches far into the earth, in fact, and there’s plenty of head clearance. At one point, Tepper even gets so far ahead of his urban exploring partner that he disappears from view.
Still, at first it seems as though all that Tepper and Nadin will find are the tunnels themselves. Indeed, a few minutes into their trek, the only thing of note that they have come across is a toad leaping through the darkened hallways. And Nadin jokes of the animal, “See, there still is life down here. It’s not totally abandoned.”
In the tradition of urban exploring, however, Tepper and Nadin continue onward, delving deeper into the tunnels. And in time, they come to a grate-like structure that blocks their path. At this point, Tepper wonders out loud, “What on earth is this? What are these things?” And he ultimately realizes that he and Nadin have come to a metal door – one that won’t budge, either.
Somehow, though, Tepper and Nadin both manage to wriggle through the door’s bars in order to continue their adventure. Next, they find items that appear to be insulated, according to Nadin. Tepper suggests, moreover, that their function is connected to air filtering, which would be an invaluable asset for an underground facility.
Then, as Tepper and Nadin go forth into the tunnels, they hear something surprising: the sounds of a busy road overhead. In fact, Nadin is heard questioning, “Why can I hear cars?” to which Tepper replies, “Oh my god, no way.” And this auditory clue reveals just how close the historic structure sits to civilization. Nadin adds, “You wouldn’t even know this was here.”
But the most surprising discovery is yet to come for Nadin and Tepper. At first, Nadin thinks that he’s found the heavy-duty door to a furnace of some sort; Tepper dispels that notion, though, as he has realized what the pair have actually unearthed. And bearing in mind the bunker’s potential ties to World War II and the Nazis, this sighting is an exciting one.
In the video, Tepper is heard exclaiming, “Actually, do you know what this is? This is an indoor firing range for the big turret guns… Look at this metal!” He then points out mangled panels of armor that still line the room, insinuating that they’ve been damaged by firing practice.
Nadin doesn’t believe him at first, though, and counters that the metal has simply rusted over time. Then Tepper shows him more precise evidence, explaining to his buddy, “Look! You can see the bullet indentations and fragments and where they’ve gone through the wood at the back… And, look, all the fragments at the side. This is a proper ammo testing facility!”
Upon closer examination, then, Nadin becomes convinced that Tepper is correct. He realizes, you see, that while the wood behind the bullet-hole-riddled metal has matching damage, the tops of the planks – which are presumably out of the firing zone – remain in good shape. And the urban explorer ponders just what could be capable of the destruction that he’s seeing.
For one thing, bullets appear to have torn through the metal completely before emerging through the other side of the sheet. The weapon’s power seems to be demonstrated, then, by what Nadin calls the “scuff marks and chunks missing.” He and Tepper also happen to find an intact bullet, which shocks them, too. Nadin adds of the item, “You can see the lines, striation on the side of it. Oh, mate. I didn’t expect this.”
The discoveries don’t end with the weapons testing room, though, as after that Nadin and Tepper happen upon what the latter describes as “a big blast door.” The safeguard has a small hole in it as well, and this would have allowed the tunnel’s occupants to shoot out at any potential invaders.
Another sign that the bunkers had a wartime role comes when the adventurers wander into what Nadin describes as a “really old part” of the tunnels. There, he walks through a series of doors until he finds one with a label. “Munitions room!” he exclaims. And Nadin surmises that the storage area for weapons and ammo would have been “heavily guarded [to] stop people getting in.”
Given all that has been uncovered, then, Nadin seemingly feels confident that he and Tepper have stumbled upon a piece of history. The urban explorer proclaims, “These are definitely full-on World War II, maybe even World War I, bunkers.” But as it happens, the duo have a few more discoveries to make before they leave the tunnels.
For one thing, Nadin happens to notice a once-shiny object on the floor of the bunker. And of this item, he says, “Just found this little key on the floor – just down there. [Tepper] reckons it’s potentially a handcuff key.” But although Nadin feels the key’s a little large to have opened handcuffs, Tepper counters, “The Germans always liked their things bigger and better, didn’t they?”
Tepper and Nadin then wade through standing water to find what appears to be a garage. The cavernous space has an even more interesting feature, though; as Tepper describes it, there’s “a nighttime cashier’s booth.” And the small room has a bit of added mystery: it looks as though it’s riddled with bullet holes.
Noticing this damage, Nadin hypothesizes, “So, this has been under attack at some point.” And he has a good idea of who could have come in and fired upon the Nazi bunker. In particular, he talks about the nearby city of Aachen, which he dubs “the first city that was taken by the Americans and the Belgians on German soil.” After that, Nadin explains, “[The Allies] made their way all the way around this area.”
So, the pair suppose, the “cashier’s booth” would have been where the Nazis checked visitors’ credentials before letting them further into the tunnels. Those bulletholes signify, though, that the entrance may have also seen unwanted visitors passing through – presumably members of the Allied forces that eventually defeated the Nazi regime.
Then, with that discovery, it’s time for Tepper and Nadin to make their way out of the underground bunkers. The pair thus return to their car, where they review their incredible finds during the day. And Nadin, for one, can’t believe what they have stumbled upon. He says of his time exploring, “That was brilliant, and I didn’t expect it at all.”
Viewers of Nadin’s YouTube channel, Finders Beepers History Seekers, appear to have appreciated the duo’s escapades as well. One commenter wrote, for instance, “That was a great explore, guys. Very interesting. Thanks very much for this. Love every minute of it.” Another added, “Those tunnels look amazing!”
A further commenter even imagined what it may have been like to man such a structure during a conflict, pondering, “That firing blast door was scary; imagine sitting behind it.” Soon enough, though, the press caught wind of the video, and they had some more theories as to what the bunkers may have been used for in their day.
According to British newspaper The Sun, the Duisburg-based tunnel system could have been “a World War II shelter for Nazis during the bombing from Allied forces.” The location may have also had its own “bombardment system, where ammunition was tested on steel plates.” And Tepper and Nadin had found solid evidence to corroborate the latter theory.
It was even suggested that Adolf Hitler himself may at some point have ventured into the bunkers – perhaps using them as a secret meeting spot. And considering the covert nature of the site, such a theory is certainly not beyond the bounds of possibility.
In a 2018 interview with The Sun, Tepper also reflected on the experience of discovering such a structure. In fact, the urban explorer explained that he had become giddy when he “realized exactly what it was [that he and Nadin] were standing in and what it was used for.” Tepper added, “I was like a kid in a candy store.”
And the trip through the World War II bunker was memorable for other reasons, too, as Tepper would reveal. He added to The Sun, “[They are] the biggest set of tunnels I have explored, and it was my first abandoned exploration I have done outside of England.”
Since then, Tepper has continued to expand his urban-exploring horizons. In the spring of 2019, for instance, he traveled to Ukraine to visit what remains of the city of Pripyat after the 1986 Chernobyl disaster. And he has embarked on a new adventure in his personal life, too; in the summer of 2019, he and his wife Carmel welcomed a son.