Spreepark in Berlin, Germany
Written by: ML
Edited by: Grave Reviews Staff
Spreepark is an abandoned amusement park located in the Southeast of Berlin. Its rich history dating back to 1969 during the time of the German Democratic Republic and having a questionable owner in the 1990s make it a hauntingly eerie place.
This theme park was originally constructed in 1969 by the socialist government of East Germany and was named VEB Kulturpark Plänterwald with an area of 29.5 hectares. It is located in the north of Plänterwald, right next to the Spree River. It was the only entertainment park at that time of communist era with 1.7 million visitors yearly.
The builders of this park didn’t want it to call an amusement park. They opted for “kulturpark” because they wanted to educate the East Germans about culture, an idea that they saw in the west. During that time, the most popular ride was the 40-meter Ferris wheel with 36 cabins. After 20 years, it was upgraded to 45-meters with 40 cabins.
In 1989, shortly after the Ferris wheel was upgraded, the fall of the Berlin Wall happened and it marked the end for the Kulturpark. Bigger theme parks were built and due to the competition, the number of visitors dropped. The builders and financiers were no longer capable to handle the losses until 1991. By then, Norbert and Pia Witte took ownership of the place and renamed it Spreepark, a Western-style amusement park.
The Story of the New Owner
Norbert Witte made a lot of huge changes in Spreepark. They invested a lot of money for physical changes, additional rides, and other new facilities. He was indeed a strange man and had a rather “colorful” history with amusement parks and the authorities, which the police and the people of Berlin didn’t know.
In 1981, he was the talk of the town when he crashed a crane into a carousel while repairing the rollercoaster in Hamburg. This incident killed 7 people and injured 15 others. He also smuggled cocaine from Peru. He stuffed it in some parts of ride equipment when he was acting as park administrator. Due to these controversies, visitors decreased and Spreepark went bankrupt in 2001 after the owner got caught with cocaine that was found in the Flying Carpet ride.
The Ruins Today
Spreepark was abandoned in 2002, a year after it went bankrupt. It has become a part of some scenes in movies and local TV shows. Some scenes from the 2011 movie Hanna was shot in Spreepark.
During summer in 2014, some parts of Spreepark were destroyed in a fire that was eventually proven to be caused by arson. This incident pushed the authorities to add more security and to place perimeter fences.
Around 2015, the City of Berlin purchased the property and had plans to revive the place. A public-private partnership is working to preserve the historical Spreepark and turn it into an art and cultural center, maintaining its spooky element. Plans for this idea were proposed in 2018.
As of 2019, the Ferris wheel from when the park started seemed to have stood the test of time and can still be seen standing. When the wind blows, the hinges creak and the cabins move as if haunted. Some visitors even think the creaks sounded more like ghosts groaning.
The rusty rides and overgrown weeds have lived together. It’s hard to restore it back to its amusement park days because the current abandoned situation of Spreepark is actually attractive to tourists. While there are no plans yet to restore Spreepark, the only thing the current owners can do is cut down trees and shrubs, and provide security 24/7.
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