An Abandoned Amusement Park in Berlin

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By Michaela Lola Abrera

Train Depot at Cultural Park Plenterwald in Berlin

Living in Berlin demands that you actively seek out its hidden haunts and break barriers. The city’s penchant for blending the bizarre with the ordinary makes it the perfect place for curiosity-seekers and non-conformists. Concealed within the lush greenery of the Treptow Park and barred by a rusty iron fence is the abandoned Spreepark (www.spreepark.de). This former GDR amusement center, which opened in 1969 and was best known as ‘Cultural Park Plenterwald,’ carries with it ghostly images of a bygone era.

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The eerie site is located in the middle of Treptow Park in the suburban district of Treptow-Köpenick. After its stint as the GDR’s only amusement center until 1989, it underwent a process of reorganization wherein Norbert Witte from Berlin GmBH attained the contract over the property and was opened to the public from 1989 to 2001. However, due to the Witte’s corruption, the park was declared insolvent in 2001 and in debt of over 11 million Euros.

Abandoned Train at Spreepark in Germany

Norbert Witte and his associates fled the country but in his failed attempts to create a “Lunapark”– in Lima, Peru, he was arrested and sentenced in May of 2004 for trying to smuggle 180kg of cocaine from Peru to Germany. He hid the contraband, valued at $14 million, inside his “flying carpet”– ride.

The Cultural Park’s seedy history is something to ponder over as you walk by the serene scene of the River Spree and towards the center of Treptow. You’ll find an enclosure surrounded by trees that serve to conceal this discarded wonderland. Though it is technically illegal to climb over this barrier , the risks of being caught and thrown into a German jail makes this endeavor all the more appealing.

Dinosaur at Cultural Park in Berlin, Germany

Once you’ve hopped over the worn ‘iron curtain’ or slid through an opening, you’ll find yourself amidst a marsh of thorny plants. Making your way past the maze of trees, fallen branches and leafy overgrowth you’ll be confronted with the remnants of this faded fairground. It’s not only the obsolete roller coaster tracks, forsaken teacup rides or the broken pieces of dinosaur statues that will give you goosebumps–it’s the silence. The echo of children’s laughter from the world beyond the fence fades away and is replaced by your heartbeat that begins to thump louder as the seconds seem to slow down. Not even the birds are chirping.

Ferris Wheel at Abandoned Berlin Theme Park

Time has stopped. Each ride looks as though its still waiting for the screams of glee that comes with a stomach churning ride or the sticky pleasures of melting ice cream on a hot summer day. Coming across the area map (http://www.spreepark.de/fahrgeschaefte_frameset.htm) you’ll find the original location of each cast off. The former tools of entertainment have become a macabre cast of characters. The swan boats, with their frozen faces and lurid whiteness, silently watch your every move. While the go-cart, which is painted with the face of a smiling mustached man, jeers from a distance. The morbid sight of the headless Brontosaurus and the sinking elephant figure accentuates the location’s disconcerting atmosphere. As you attempt to find your way out of this forgotten world, its most special attraction,“The Ferris Wheel of Berlin” looms over to cast its shadow and bid you adieu.

26 comments on “An Abandoned Amusement Park in Berlin

  1. what an amazing park. :)

  2. Only Berlin on said:

    A great amusement park – it’s a shame this one’s not open anymore. Maybe they could turn it into the Tacheles of amusement parks.

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  5. KayJay on said:

    the best page of this abandoned amusement park is www.berliner-spreepark.de
    photos, videos, infos – but only german.

  6. Why did they close it. I’ve seen parks with older rides in the middle east.

  7. lachmann on said:

    you need to perform better research on your facts they are not true.

    Think about what the Senate in Berlin did by creating a Green Zone that took away the parks parking capacity. Without a park platz for customers there is no income. The park had to file for bankrupt do to the actions that took away the parking lot.

    Mr Witte I am certain comes from a famouse artistic background with his family doing this buisness since OTTO Witte (Konig von Albania) time (his Grandfater). He is a very smart and intelligent man with lots of history behind him, don’t believe for a moment that he is so dumb to deal with corruption unless he was forced to.

  8. Michaela Lola on said:

    Is this Mrs. Witte? Funny how you use the same line used in a recent interview she did. Are you related by any chance because I think “one dost prostest too much.”
    First of all, just because someone comes from an artistic family or has a good family background does not mean they are not incapable of corruption. Just because someone is intelligent doesn’t mean that they would not involve themselves or mastermind illegal schemes (in fact,many crooks have a high I.Q. and involve themselves in corrupt activities becaus they think that they are smart enough to get away with it). No one is “forced” into corruption. There is always a choice (many in fact).

    And yes, I did my research. First of all, I’ll acknowledge that the green zone may have caused more problems especially since they had to charge exorbitant rates. The park also had a multitude of accidents (with many visitors severely injured or dead) and the government failed to check his background. (In 1981, his ride in Hamburg collided with another leaving seven people dead.) He was also in a lot of debt (EVEN before the parking lot situation).

    I wrote this article in 2008. In 2009, more attention has been paid to the case of Marcel Witte due to his mother’s atempts to bring his situation to light (good for him for having such a great mama!). In 2009, the documentary “Achterbahn” also gained in popuarity (proabably how you heard about it, no?) (Norbert Witte, due to his bad health, is in a low-security prison in Berlin with a seven year term–his son, Marcel got 20 years in Peru.) With Marcel languishing in a Peruvian prison, his family has been trying their best to have him released or at the very least, transferred to a German prison. It’s a sad tale. The desparity between the father and the son’s punishment is unnnerving. The family is shattered and it yes,it tugs at our heartstrings but at the same time, this does not change the facts about what had happened, who had been involved, what crime (s) had been committed. I stated it as a fact and not a judgment. And yes, I did a lot of research and I don’t understand how you are

    “certain [that he] comes from a famouse artistic background with his family doing this buisness since OTTO Witte (Konig von Albania) time (his Grandfater). He is a very smart and intelligent man with lots of history behind him, don’t believe for a moment that he is so dumb to deal with corruption unless he was forced to”

    Did you personally KNOW Mr. Witte? (seriously, if this is Mrs. Witte, I’ll apologize and let’s talk–how about an interview?). It doesnt state in your information that you are currently in Berlin or even, Europe. Who have you spoken to about this? (beyond wikepedia?). Let me also define corruption for you:

    noun: corruption
    adj.
    1. Marked by immorality and perversion; depraved.
    2. Venal; dishonest
    v. cor·rupt·ed, cor·rupt·ing, cor·rupts
    v.tr.
    1. To destroy or subvert the honesty or integrity of.
    2. To ruin morally; pervert.
    3. To taint; contaminate.
    4. To cause to become rotten; spoil.

    If you examine the facts of the case, it is pretty clear that my use of the word is justified. Is he still corrupt now? I don’t know. Is he a corrupt human being? I can’t say. But AT THE TIME, was there corruption? Yes.

    Your accusation that I did not do research is baseless–his background means that he was incapable of corruption? Non sequitur, man!

    Plus, the fact that you say that “he is so dumb to deal with corruption unless he was forced to”…uh…in a 2007 interview, he actually says that “he was so dumb to get involved…” I don’t understand your certainty about his character if you yourself did not know him AND since it is apparant that you had also not done “better research.”

    Two things:
    If you’re going to accuse someone of not doing research, make sure that you’ve actually done your own.
    Second, if you’re going to assert a point or a position (and hey, I’m cool with that..it’s a free world and I like hearing different ideas) make sure that you stick with it. You basically destroyed your first assertion (second paragraph) with the second sentence like a snake eating its own tail (calm down, I’m not calling you snake. It’s just a phrase).

    BUT my intentions for writing this piece was to talk about the space itself – the shadowy corners, the defunct rides, the strange silence. My focus was not on the Witte family nor the history. I mentioned it (briefly) because I thought it would be important for the reader to know how the amusement park ended up abandoned and in such a state.

    I appreciate your feedback and heck, it got me pumped to write more about the history of the place. I’m definitely hankering to go back (though I think that the police are much stricter now due to the recent blast of media attention it has been getting…or maybe they’ll even open it to the public! Ha!)

    I wish you luck and thanks for reading.

    Happy travels!

  9. Michaela Lola on said:

    Unless of course this is….

    http://www.bz-berlin.de/archiv/das-spaete-bruder-glueck-von-spreepark-witte-article132998.html

    If so, then, let’s talk…

    (see, I do my research…)

  10. vacances maroc on said:

    Merci de partager cela avec nous !

  11. Urban Ghosts Media on said:

    Cool pics! Abandoned amusement parks are so spooky, and it’s amazing the land doesn’t get snapped up more quickly by developers. Glad it doesn’t though!

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  14. Farrens on said:

    thanks for sharring

  15. Newsome on said:

    hi i like your blog and your article . very interesting

  16. Gravel on said:

    Wir sind ein Forum gegen Betrüger

  17. i really like this view

  18. Blalack on said:

    vpills hakkinda hersey.

  19. nathaniel on said:

    I am heading to Berlin in a couple of weeks and going here is on my list of things to do. Does anyone know where the best place to get into the park it and what time of day is best to try it?

    Any information would be very helpful!!

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  22. Randall Berger on said:

    Isn’t this the amusement part that “stars” in the recent film HANNA? With Eric Bana and Cate Blachette?

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  26. It this the amusement. Park that was in that movie hannah

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