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Spreepark was an entertainment park in the north of the Plänterwald in the Berlin district Treptow-Köpenick (formerly part of the GDR-controlled East Berlin). It was also well known by its earlier name Kulturpark Plänterwald.
1969-1989 – Kulturpark Plänterwald
The entertainment park was opened in 1969 as Kulturpark Plänterwald, covering an area of 29.5 hectares. The area is situated in the north of the Plänterwald, next to the river Spree. It was the only constant entertainment park in the GDR, and the only such park in either East or West Berlin.
1989-2001 – Spreepark Berlin
The VEB Kulturpark Berlin was completed in 1991, after the reunification, by mixed municipal authorities in Berlin. Out of a total of seven applicants, the Spreepark Berlin GmbH company received the contract. Crucially, the references of Norbert Witte of the company were not properly checked.
Under the Spreepark GmbH some new attractions were added and visitor numbers reached 1.5 million per annum. Later the concept was changed and the park was gradually transformed into a more Western-style amusement park. An entrance fee (adults: 29 DM, children: 27 DM) covering all individual attractions was now charged, instead of visitors paying for each individual ride, as had previously been the case.
The asphalted surface around the Ferris wheel was taken up and converted into a water landscape. Roller coasters, two game water courses, a stage, a Western town and an English village were later added to the park.
Since 1999 the park has had to cope with large debts. The increase in the admission fee to 30 DM per person and a lack of parking space contributed to a drop in visitor numbers until in 2001 only 400,000 visitors entered the park.
In 2001 Spreepark GmbH announced that they were insolvent.
On 18 January 2002, Norbert Witte, together with his family and closest coworkers moved to Lima in Peru. They shipped six attractions (Fliegender Teppich, Butterfly, Spider, Baby-Flug, Wild River, and Jet Star) in 20 ship containers, having been allowed to do so by the authorities who believed they were being sent for repair.
Since 2002 the park has not opened for visitors. In August 2002 the park was declared completely insolvent. Debts at a level of €11,000,000 remained and the area was allowed to fall into disrepair. The Ferris wheel still stands, but has not operated since the park's closure, likewise, the remains of other attractions can still be found on-site.
Norbert Witte failed in his attempt to run a "Lunapark" in Lima. On 19 May 2004 he was sentenced to seven years in jail for attempting to smuggle 180 kg of cocaine with a value of £14 million from Peru to Germany in the masts of the Fliegender Teppich (Flying Carpet) ride. In October 2006 a Peruvian court sentenced Wittes' son, Marcel Witte, to 20 years for drug smuggling.
Since 2011, guided tours have been offered to the public at restricted times.
In March 2014, the City of Berlin bought the Spreepark. Since then, no guided tours are offered anymore. The exact future of the amusement park is unclear.
On the evening of 10 August 2014, major parts of the park were destroyed in a fire. Reports indicated that firefighters discovered two blazes 200 m apart that soon merged. This indicates the fires may have been deliberately set.
- Official video on the Vimeo channel of directors Tim Main & Joe Dixon
- The week that was: World - Times Online
- Abandoned Berlin theme park burned down, 11 August 2014, the local.de accessed 12 August 2014
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Spreepark.|
- Showdown in Spreepark on Resident Advisor