The GDR leaders lived quite comfortably at Majakowskiring. It was quite a long walk from Berlin’s city centre. But when the angry Berlin mobs protested against their government in 1953 the communists became quite nervous. They were scared the protesters would come to their villa’s at the Majakowskiring to fight them. So they went looking for a more secure and secluded place to live: Wandlitz.
GDR Leaders at Wandlitz
The people of Berlin always wondered how the GDR leaders lived in Wandlitz. The Waldsiedlung, as the area is called, is very secluded. It is situated in the small town of Wandlitz, near Berlin. To get there you have to drive through the woods. A large wall surrounded the area, so there was no way to look over the hedge what was going on at the other side of the premises.
People started creating myth’s and fantastic stories about the villa’s in Wandlitz and the glamorous lifestyle of their GDR leaders. Golden bathtub’s, expensive food, champagne with their luxurious breakfast. Caviar on toast, wild party’s, bling bling clothes. If you have no idea what is going on and your own life is without any luxury, it’s easy to create the weirdest whispers.
Life behind the Wandlitz Wall
So what was life really like at the Waldsiedlung in Wandlitz? Well, life wasn’t that glamorous, that’s for sure. True: the GDR leaders had more luxury than the common people that lived in Berlin. They had caviar every now and then. And some champagne and fresh fruit. There also was a huge swimming pool, a tennis court, cinema and a sauna in the facility where Walter Ulbricht and his wife could swim and be entertained with Egon Krenz and Erich Mielke. It all sounds quite luxurious, but the downside of this secluded life was the GDR leaders didn’t trust each other at all. The leaders spied on each other constantly. If they were talking to each other outside, the others watched how long the conversation went on. And how often those people talked to one another. Because they might plan a coup or conspire.
Wandlitz in 1989
But no matter how secluded life was at the Waldsiedlung in Wandlitz, in 1989 the Berlin Wall fell and people demonstrated in front of the gates of Wandlitz.
In 1990 the GDR leaders had to leave the premises for good. Nowadays you can visit Wandlitz and see the villa of Honecker and Mielke. But you’d rather not be here. The Waldsiedlung is now a hospital, the Brandenburg Klinik.
We show the hidden gems of Berlin, like an abandoned amusement park near the city centre of Berlin with headless dino’s and a ferris wheel that still spins in the wind. At RAW in Friedrichshain you will find great graffiti with pink fish and mad captains with large moustaches. And what about Berlin’s bathing culture! At the Badeschiff in Treptow you can swim in a swimming pool that floats in the river Spree. Imagine the view! At Stadtbad Prenzlauer Berg in the Oderberger Strasse you can see the fallen angels and fat bellied watergods of the ruined swimming pool that is being renovated right now.
We also take you deeper into the history of Berlin by showing you where the GDR leaders used to live. Walk with us to the Majakowskiring where the GDR elite stayed in big houses. You can still see in which villa’s the GDR leaders used to stay. We will take you there and tell you all about the history of these strange villa’s, a long walk away from Berlin’s city centre.
Near the river Spree is East Germany’s biggest amusement park. In ruins. Back in the seventies children screamed and had a lot of fun in the theme park. But now, it is awfully quiet. The whitewater course is covered in a layer of crumbled autumn leaves. The dinosaurs are daubed with graffiti and some missing a head or leg. The Ferris wheel moves slowly in the wind.
Watergods with big bellies, turtles, octopusses and big fish all swim over the facade of Stadtbad Prenzlauer Berg. But the stone angels are turning green because they have been lying on the wet ground for so long. The swimmingpool Stadtbad Prenzlauer Berg at Oderbergerstrasse used to be loved, but now it is in ruins.
Friedrichshain is RAW. Raw because the district is rough and full of ragged buildings and alternative people. But also Raw because of the R.A.W. gelande, an area near the river Spree. The former factory is in ruins. But that doesn’t mean nothing is happening anymore. You will find great graffiti here and Berlin’s creative people.
The river Spree doesn’t look very attractive to go swimming. But in Treptow you will see people near the Spree shore. Not to dive in the brown river water. But to visit the Badeschiff in Treptow. A large swimming pool that is situated in the river Spree. Imagine the views you have on the river. Even in the wintertime it is great to go here to poodle or go as fast as you can in this pool.