In 1969, the GDR opened what was presumably the closest thing to Disneyland in East Berlin: Spreepark. Located nearby to Soviet Memorial at Treptower Park, school children would make trips to both in one day, first pledging allegiance to the GDR, and then spending the day on the amusement park grounds, congealing the two memories together.
A few years after the fall of the wall, Norbert Witte bought the park and began to build it up at a very quick pace. But the park soon ran into problems maintaining its visitors, specifically because of lack of parking, as none was allowed to be built in the surrounding area due to the status of the area as a nature preserve.
With a debt of 15 million euros to a French bank, the park went bankrupt in 2001, and was left to the weeds. Wanting to avoid fines for the insolvency, Norbert Witte and his son fled to Peru the following year, along with 180kg of cocaine hidden inside a Fliegender Teppech ride. Both were caught, of course, and since then his wife, Pia, has been in charge of the grounds.
Since the bankruptcy, the park has remained closed for the most part, although that hasn’t stopped people from jumping the fence and exploring. This weekend, however, the park grounds will host a two day event in collaboration with curator group Musement, who have been working together with the management and artists to create installations around the perimeter of the park. Tours will also be available.
Spreepark will be open this Saturday and Sunday, from 11-19h. For more information about the weekend’s events, you can check out the Kulturpark website.