Schools out for Summer and everyone’s heading to the pool. But not this one. The Freibad Lichtenberg has been closed for a good 20 years, the ground is still rumored to be littered with bombs from the second world war and the only ones going for a dip are the sparrows.
The origins of the Freibad Lichtenberg (Open Air Pool) dates back to the year 1928 – but the grounds it’s situated on – a football stadium – date back even further.
The beginnings of the BVB Freibad Lichtenberg
The BVG Stadium (also known as the BVB Stadium – thats also where name comes BVB Freibad Lichtenberg came from) was built in 1920 (around the same time as the lost place Stadtbad Lichtenberg) and was primarily used by the Tram Workers of the nearby Tram Station Lichtenberg, earning it the nickname „Straßenbahnerplatz“ (Tram Pitch). The covered grandstand on the eastern side of the stadium was this built by the architect Jean Krämer – who was well-known for having designed multiple tram stations in Berlin using elements of expressionism and Neue Sachlichkeit. When the BVG – The Berlin Transport Company was founded in 1928, the stadium ownership was transferred and was it was known from then on as the “BVG Stadion”
In the same year, a swimming pool was constructed on an area of 20,000 m² just north of the stadium. It served as training venue for foreign swim athletes training for the Olympic Summer Games in 1932 and 1936. In a similar vein, the river along the abandoned Ballhaus Grünau and Ballhaus Riviera was used as a regatta course for the Olympic canoeing and rowing events at the 1936 Summer Olympics.
In the last weeks of the war, the German Army stationed antiaircraft units in the stadium and created an ammunition dump. After the debris had been cleared, the stadium was reopened in 1948 and served as the home ground of the newly founded Berliner SV 49 VG (Sportverein Berliner Verkehrsbetriebe 49 e. V). The stadium was eventually renamed to “BVB Stadion” as a result of the dispute between the east and west berlin transport companies.
The Freibad Lichtenberg after the war
After the Second World War the swimming pool laid abandoned. In the early 1970s, the DDR decided to restore the Freibad and reopened it as a Sommervolksbad (a summer public pool much like the abandoned Wernerbad in Mahlsdorf). It remained in use until the late 1980s, locally known as the BVB Freibad. Sadly, was the case so often the BVB Freibad Lichtenberg came into hard times after german reunification. Public infrastructure which was either seen as too costly, not cost effective enough or simply beyond decent repair was shut down. And so in the early 1990s, the Freibad was closed for good.
While the stadium was partially renovated in the late 1990s, the old grandstand (which is a listed monument) hasn’t been touched. Its gated off and in danger of collapsing. During the renovations, workers found a 250 pound aircraft bomb (including the remnants of the aircraft that carried it), machine guns, hand grenades and Panzerfäuste. It is suspected that there are at least another 5 tons worth of explosives in the ground around the area.
BVB Freibad Lichtenberg today
2018 Update: And time finally came for the Freibad Lichtenberg. In the summer of 2018, the pool and the buildings were torn down. It’s not entirely clear as to whats happening with the “free” space, but it does seem like the adjacent BVG stadium is being rejuvenated.
As of yet there known plans what is going to happen with the Freibad Lichtenberg. For it to be put to use again it would need extensive reconstruction – a fate it shares with the now abandoned Schwimmhalle in Pankow. While the changing rooms look like they are in relative good condition the pool looks like its in poor condition. My guess is that it would be too small for any public use as well. Not all abandoned pools suffer from the same fate though – the Stadtbad Oderberger Straße was saved, renovated and made open to the public again.
Getting in is fairly easy. The gates of the BVB Stadion were open so I ended up just walking straight in. The pitch was completely empty and the whole place seemed deserted. If you walk down to the left, towards the bushes you’ll see a small pathway lead into the grounds of the Freibad. There isn’t terribly much to see, just the abandoned pool and a few buildings that are sealed off, but those who enjoy the hidden history and odd tranquility of an abandoned place will appreciate this one.
For more photos of the abandoned swimming pool – check out the flickr album: Freibad Lichtenberg
Freibad Lichtenberg Address
BVB Freibad Lichtenberg
Public Transport: Take the M8 Tram to Landsberger Allee and walk down the Siegfriedstraße. Quite easy really.