From amusement to prison: Berlin’s most famous and saddest amusement park

photo by crycheck

This is more than just an abandoned territory for taking fashionable pictures, this is more than what you see in Hollywood horror films… This is a true life story of a German family. This is the place which was made for joy and family pastime and which turned into tears and literally imprisonment… The place of decay and disorder.

You can almost hear the child echo booming voices in the area of 29.5 hectares, and only security dogs will welcome you now..

The entertainment park was opened in 1969 as Cultural Park Plänterwald, covering an area of 29.5 hectares. The area lies in the north of the Plänterwald in direct proximity to the Spree. It was the only constant entertainment park in the GDR and after the consolidation of the two German states also the only one in all of Berlin.


On the 1st of January we decided it would be the best time for seeing Spreepark Plänterwald... as pictures remain just somebody’s snaps. In rain and mud we got to the place, and were nicely surprised not to be alone, as many couples and even families were wondering around. This time no security guards.. The place is huge but very empty, so many things are gone, destroyed by time or demolished by curious strangers..

The only thing which seems to be still alive is the wheel, the Berlin eye, or whatever we may call it spins on its own. On one of the doors  you can read SHE’S LOST CONTROL AGAIN… Behind that building there is still a stage.

The huge dinosaurs have been moving around for years; people have taken surreal images from all the possible angles. The dino with graffiti.. Mixed feelings don’t let you leave the place.. Endless tracks lead nowhere.. Bright colours covered in moss, mould and spider web. And it is water water water everywhere you go… but no boats which would function or take you through…

Photo: Anne Meyer

Photo taken from Peter Bowen article

Author: Anne Steckner

Photo By Just in Parr

I was lucky enough to get a well shot documentary “Achter Bahn”. The trailer will tell you in the first 30 seconds, how depressing the story is… 

Published in B EAST Magazine, November 2010, Photo by Megan Cullen

By Joel Alas: Photos by Megan Cullen Norbert: Witte lives in a trailer inside the gates of a derelict theme park on the banks of the river Spree in East Berlin. The theme park is his own, as is the dereliction.

Berlin in the 1990s was a city full of energy and opportunity. Artists and businessmen alike were breathless with excitement about the possibilities that had been opened up by the fall of the wall.
Witte was among those who took hold of the potential of the era. He dreamed of Spreepark becoming one of the primary attractions in the new city, a rival to the great theme parks of the world. He set about installing new rides and attractions – some of them without proper building permits.
His gamble began to pay off. Visitor numbers were up. They came in their thousands, mostly on weekends, driving in from across the region to experience the new thrills Witte had brought to the park.

In 2001, as the park’s fortunes began to descend, Witte made the acquaintance of a Peruvian expatriate who casually reflected on the dearth of decent fairground attractions in his home country, not knowing that Witte might take his conversational chatter as the basis for a new business plan. Overnight, Witte formulated a way to save himself from financial ruin: He would pack several amusement rides in shipping containers and slip away to Peru to start a new theme park, far away from his chequered history, the inflexible city authorities, and his looming bankruptcy.

“To Lima with the rollercoaster!” screamed the headline in the Berliner Zeitung newspaper on January 22 2002, the morning that Witte’s flight came to light. The city was furious that its beloved theme park had been stripped bare of its rides and left with a €15 million debt.
Meanwhile, in Peru, Witte was discovering that the land of promised opportunity was merely a mirage. The salty air rusted his machines. Local technicians were in short supply. His family was isolated and depressed. Debts began to mountain.
In a desperate bid, Witte turned to local drug dealers to provide him with cash. The idea came through a former Spreepark electrician who had connections to the Peruvian drug world. A plan was laid out: He would return to Germany as he had departed it, with his amusement ride ‘The Magic Carpet’ in shipping containers. Only this time, the ride would be a little heavier – the metal support beams would be packed with 167 kilograms of pure South American cocaine.

In the weeks before the shipment was due to depart Peru, Witte suffered several heart attacks. Was it the stress of the deal that brought on the attack? Was it a psychosomatic escape from an unseemly situation? In any case, Witte raced back to Germany for medical treatment. From his recovery bed in Berlin, he continued to coordinate the cocaine deal, and coaxed his son Marcel to take his place at the head of the operation.
Marcel was then 21 years old. He had traipsed around the world with his outlandish father, enduring the financial ups and downs, his parents’ marital strains, and the uncertainty of what might lie around the next turn of the track. He was taken aback at his father’s request, yet was eager to help restore his family’s success.
It wasn’t Marcel’s plan. Neither was it his fault that one the drug dealers was a police informant. Yet when police swooped on The Magic Carpet in November 2003, it was Marcel’s wrists that were slapped in handcuffs. (Published in B EAST Magazine, November 2010) 


There is also a book available about abandoned places/spaces in Berlin. THE BOOK

More details read: HERE


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