Summer brings out the Wurst of Berlin. Go to any of the city’s outdoor swimming pools on a hot day and you’ll be confronted by the scent of grilled Bratwurst and a sea of red-faced Berliners sunbathing around chaotic Freibäder, proudly displaying flabby beer bellies, hairy armpits, sweaty nipples and more.
Overfed screaming kids scurry around the perimeters, splashing in and out of the simmering stew of human flesh to complete the authentic Berliner experience.
But some outdoor pools were spared the annual invasion of the quivering masses. Some Freibäder served their time and were left to recover from their ordeal in the relative peace of abandonment.
You had to bring your own water if you wanted to go swimming at the BVG-Freibad in Lichtenberg. It was abandoned after the plug was pulled in the late 1980s and survived its retirement peacefully until the diggers finally destroyed it in 2018.
Despite its historical importance, Lichtenberg Bezirk wasn’t interested in preserving it.
Back in DDR times, the East Berliners used to use the pool for casual frolicking, splish-splashing and general water-based merriment.
Freibad Lichtenberg was once used by foreign swimmers to train for the 1936 Olympics and by native swimmers (I assume) training for the 1932 games. Those were the Los Angeles games, hence the assumption.
There was no swimming at all after the war until the East German authorities reopened it again in the 1970s.
The Freibad was built in 1928 to complement the neighboring BVG-Stadion, known somewhat confusingly as the BVB-Stadion. There’s another BVB stadium in Dortmund of course, the biggest in Germany, but it’s in much better condition than this one was, held together by a net.
It was literally the BVG-Stadion’s last stand before that was destroyed too in 2015. It had Denkmalschutz (protected status) until it was knocked down, which tells you all you need to know about what Germany thinks of Denkmalschutz.
The stadium, which was built in 1920, got its name in 1928 when the city transportation authority Berliner Verkehrsbetriebe (BVG) was formed and took it over. Evidently they were football fans and they wanted their own stadium. If you ever tried playing football matches in a U-Bahn, you’d understand why.
German army anti-aircraft forces were stationed here toward the end of the war when it became home to a munitions storage facility. This became a magnet for Red Army soldiers advancing along Frankfurter Allee. The bombs rained down, particularly as there was also an industrial area beside it. The old flak towers ended up covered in rubble.
After the war, in 1949, it became home to the newly formed SV Berliner VG 49 sports club, who persist with handball, football, athletics, bowling, volleyball and the likes to this day.
Due to the division of East and West Berlin, the BVG was split as well, with the eastern version becoming the VEB Kombinat Berliner Verkehrsbetriebe (BVB) in 1969. Hence the BVB stadium name. Nothing to do with Borussia Dortmund.
All the companies in the DDR were called VEB something or other, VEB meaning Volkseigener Betrieb or Publicly Owned Operation. Kombinat meant Group, so effectively the BVB was the Berlin transport authority as a publicly owned group.
They did work to restore the stadium in the late 1990s, when they found more than five tons of munitions and a 250kg bomb that had to be defused. No wonder there was an explosive atmosphere at games.
But it’s not the same anymore. The Freibad has been replaced by a couple of volleyball and badminton courts. It used to be full of snail-shells. “Look, more snails!” my young sidekick said as he showed me another handful.
Now the snails are gone, the Freibad is gone, the stadium-stand is gone. As if none of them ever existed at all.
LOCATION AND ACCESS (HOW TO FIND GUIDE)
- What: BVG-Stadion and Freibad, last stand of a once-proud stadium and an accompanying swimming pool that once hosted Olympic athletes. Despite historical importance, they were demolished without a care.
- Where: Siegfriedstraße. 71, 10365 Berlin, Germany.
- How to get there: Don’t bother.
- Getting in: They’re gone, unfortunately, so pick somewhere else to go.
- When to go: In the past.
- Difficulty rating: 10/10. And to think it used to be 1/10!
- Who to bring: Someone who might be able to get them back.
- What to bring: Beer is always good.
- Dangers: Melancholy memories of what used to be.
More sporting heroes
The Sporthotel und Kongresszentrum des Sportforums Hohenschönhausen is in a sorry state, beyond salvation, thrashed and abused. Not even drugs can help.
Blub was a swimming and leisure center with pools, slides and crazy stuff that was very popular before the rats noticed it too. Then it was a blubbering mess.
The abandoned status of Strandbad Tegel looks secure. Campaigners are trying so hard to reopen it that you can be sure it won’t be opening anytime soon.
Well, I lived there, only a few hundred meters away, but never noticed the Swimming Pool… Saw the Stadium a few times, but never went in because of the state. Didn’t want it to collapse over my head 😉
Oh btw, fairly close to the pool and the Stadium there is an abandoned University Site (couple of buildings) and an abandoned furniture-Superstore (really a huge building). Don’t know if you could get into one of those, but I can send you the exact position of them if you’re interested.
Sure Hannes! You can reach me at: explore (at) abandonedberlin (dot) com
You’ve got Mail 😉
Nice post, will definitely try to stop by there in the summer.
I went in today. It was a really sunny day so it was nice but i expect to be sexier during early mornings. Even some fog could give more feeling to the pics. Thanks for your posts! The blog is great! a lot of info!
Hello, could u give me some more info about the superstore and university, going to B in 4 weeks..
Former campus of Fachhochschule für Technik und Wirtschaft mentioned above is located at Allee der Kosmonauten 20-22 in Lichtenberg (52.524914, 13.513785). Seems to be well secured. Other abandoned campus of FHTW have been at Blankenburger Pflasterweg 102 in Pankow (52.589106, 13.455821) and Marktstraße 9 in Rummelsburg (52.504136, 13.471447). Both probably in new use.
You’re very welcome! Yes, fog is good, but sometimes that screws up pictures too.
Hi Nick, the former furniture store was combined with a diy-market and a shopping mall. The front building at Landsberger Allee has been pulled down meanwhile. Yet the large halls and glass roofed mall still exists. Its here: Landsberger Allee 358,10365 Berlin (52.533735, 13.503547). Cheers!
Hey, went there today, super easy access, but try to go there after a few rainy days so that the swimming pool has a little bit of water, as on the pictures.
I was here a few weeks ago. The dificulty grade is actually 0/10. The soccer pitch is being used by a local team of Berlin and there are soccer matches being played in front of the “ghost tribune”. The place is o.k. but I actually liked more to explored the abandoned meat factory that is nearby at Josef-Orlopp-Str.
Did you get into the meat factory? It’s pretty much occupied by people in workshops and all that. I know there’s a crowd doing expensive tours of it but to be honest I don’t see the point. But if you found a way in and found it worth exploring let us know!
If you come from Joseph-Orlopp-Str. and go pass the boom-gate of the parking, you are just in front of a big building surrounded by a fence. If you go to the back side of the building (going left and passing the workshops) there is no fence. All doors are closed but at some point (near the high building with a chimney) there’s a hole that allows you to jump into the basement (really easy). From there you can go up and explore the building. It is empty, but still with the charm of an old abandoned building that used to be full of life (and death, since it was a meat factory as far as I know).
I would say it’s worth a visit.
As you said, parts of the building are being used as workshops, but there is no connection between those parts and the abandoned ones. Further on, there is a building that I heard has still machines and stuff, but it does not seem easy to get in there, maybe that’s the one that has tours…
The area betwenn Josef -Orlopp-Straße, Ruschestraße and Bornitzstraße belonged to Konsumgenossenschaft Berlin (i. e. consumers co-operative). They had several departements located there. The meat factory has just been one. You’ve been to the (industrial) bakery. Perhapes you’ve inside seen tiles forming the acronym BAKO, which meant Volkseigenes Backwarenkombinat. There also used to be a bowling alley in the cellar and a smal air-raid shelter. Unfortunately baking ovens and machines are long gone. The building with the chimney served a heating plant for the whole complex. Next building used to be a storehouse and then comes meat factory (yellow bricks). In these buildings you’ll find relics like smoking ovens.
Thanks Karl G. and Anonymous for the valuable information! Really, great stuff. I’ll check it out and report back with any progress…
thanks for the tip 🙂
I wanted to go there on Saturday. Unfortunately, there were two or three dogs behind the fence. Does anyone know if there is security?
Maybe it’s better to go on a Sunday?
Hello. So which one is possible to visit? Can you tell. Going kinda “now”. Need infos right away 🙂 Maybe I am in luck.
You mean the meat factory, right? As far as I know, there are paid-up tours every Sunday so I wouldn’t advise going then, unless you like being ripped off.
The dogs were only in one part to the right when I was there, behind the fence that I didn’t cross. I’m not sure, but perhaps if you go the other way you’ll find Karl G’s suggested route in. Good luck!
The sign on the gras is gone, the clock is gone, some other things gone. The white building is shut down. No way to get in and there is a guard I guess, the one on a scooter. The sports area is new and is in use. Opposite of the old seating building (fenced in and visible to everybody if you go over fence or so) is a new building.
The pool area was okay to have a look at. It is fenced in and visible. Cannot enter it as it looks on the above picture. All fences. You can feel free to walk around the pool – it is open to public but pool itself is fenced in. The pool is empty! Only some rubbish in it.
We went down yesterday. there are a few gaps in the fences around the area, it’s very easy to access.
You can walk in and around the old football stand which is a stones throw away from the abandoned swimming pool (which is technically fenced in but the fence is small enough to hop over),
Someone had also placed some convenient climbing material next to the side of the building which let me on to the roof (my friend just climbed a nearby tree), it was a Saturday so I guess no one was working in the offices behind.
There was also a broken/missing window allowing access to the building (it was a tight and inconvenient squeeze though), it’s nothing spectacular but relatively graffitti free.
Awesome website and thanks for the tip!
Had a look today. The stand is not there anymore.
Been there last week, the stands are effectively gone and there’s now a brand new football club. The swimming pool and the white building besides are still there though. Hard to get in the white building but a phone number is written on the door if you want to make an appointment with the “owner” to get in.
Guys, it’s gone. Just a pile of rubble and a big hole left
This Place is gone now. By RWG1 Abrissunternehmen
Just as the others said, there is nothing to see here now. No stands, no pool, no anything. The white building from the pictures is there but it looks in active use and is very heavily fenced in. Skip this place.