Everything You Never Knew You Wanted to Know About Berlin
Did you know that between 1903 and 1933 Berlin could pride itself on being home to the biggest and most exquisite amusement park on the continent?
Lunapark Halensee at the eastern shore of the Halensee lake – today Berlin-Halensee is the second smallest district in the city of Berlin after Hansaviertel – was opened in 1903 by August Aschinger and the former head cook of the Kempinski hotels, Bernd Hoffmann. Originally called “Terrassen am Halensee”, it had its name changed in 1909.
The amusement park was built next to the very popular Freibad Halensee, open-air bath whose visitor numbers could and did compete with those of the similar (and still open today) establishment in Wannsee.
The place quickly became famous for its numerous attractions: Wellenbad or a swimming-pool with a wave machine, gingerly re-named “Nuttenaquarium” (a slut aquarium) because of the large numbers of lovely ladies sitting on its edges presenting their charms to the wave-riding men; Wackeltreppe or Shimmy-Stairs, trembling and shaking as one climbed up them to the top where a wind machine was waiting for the female visitors to lift up their skirts; Gebirgsbahn, a little train carrying its passengers through a mountainous landscape that the Germans are still so very much fond of; the first escalator (Rolltreppe) in Berlin; a Bavarian Village where beer was flowing day in, day out; a restaurant sitting 16,000, as well as theatres, cabarets, revues, jazz concerts and boxing matches (it was in 1926 at Lunapark Halensee that Max Schmeling won his first boxing title).
The fireworks show ending the day each evening was just an explosive cherry on top of this highly entertaining dessert.
No wonder that the amusement park attracted 50,000 visitors per day and that at the weekends the numbers went even higher.
All this came to an end in 1933 when the new NSDAP government decided that Lunapark Halensee was a Schandefleck (a disgrace, a mark of shame) on the new German nation´s pure, healthy and well-trained body. Plus it was in the way of a big project that Hitler was extremely keen on seeing finished: the construction of Halenseestrasse, the new thoroughfare needed to facilitate the traffic between the Olympia Stadion and other important venues for the Olympic Games of 1936.
Closed down in 1933, Lunapark Halensee was demolished in 1935.