Halensee/Charlottenburg – Lunapark was a famous amusement park in Halensee in Charlottenburg. It sported a modern wave pool and many other attractions which are mentioned by numerous British visitors during the 1920s and 30s.
The terraces on the shores of lake Halensee were renamed “Lunapark” in 1910. One of its greatest attractions was Europe’s biggest indoor swimming pool. Opened in May 1927, Lunapark sported orientalist architecture and special temporary features such as water slides, a mountain train, special swings etc. One entered Lunapark from the end of Kurfürstendamm to find oneself in a completely fantastic, very noisy and often colonialist world of make-belief. 10 000 visitors could be served on the restaurant terraces, thousands of people watched boxing matches, or were able to listen to the new medium of radio broadcasts at the so-called radio house, while others amused themselves on the large and ever-changing fair grounds. Contemporary newspapers and tourist literature include numerous accounts, and several authors wrote about their experience – not all of them favourable accounts. Alix Strachey, for instance, was reticent in her comments. Mass entertainment was not really her favourite pastime. That subtle class mechanisms existed at the amusement park passed her by: ‘Halensee is revolutionised by the opening of Luna Park. It happened on Saturday. There’s a dense mob there, between 3 & 10 p.m. Telschow’s is ransacked; & fireworks last night. Perhaps it’s only so marked on Saturdays & Sundays. I do not feel drawn to go inside.’
Despite Strachey’s reticence, many visitors felt compelled to include Lunapark as part of their Berlin tour. Virginia Woolf visited the ultrachic and modern swimming-pool during her only stay in Berlin to see her lover Vita Sackville-West: ‘I think of the tower and the lights and the waves and the shell room at Sans Souci and you – Next week is Feb. 1st, so there‘s really not long to wait. But Lord! What a horror Berlin and diplomacy are! I’d no idea till I’d seen it.’
The swimming pool had a sliding roof which could be opened in summer. The 40m long pool allowed men and women to swim simultaneously, which was unusual at the time. Its major attraction was the wave-making machine which made the experience even more novel. The amusement park got into financial trouble in the 1930s and was closed in 1934 by the National Socialists, who frowned upon what they deemed ‘decadent’ entertainment. The area was partly repurposed as a park, and partly used to build a road leading to the so-called “Reichssportfeld”. Gesa Stedman
1—Alix to James Strachey, 5 May 1925, in Bloomsbury/Freud: The Letters of James and Alix Strachey, 1924–1925, ed. Perry Meisel and Walter Kendrick (New York: Basic Books, 1985), p. 257.
2—Virginia Woolf to Vita Sackville-West, 28 January 1929, in Woolf, Virginia, A Reflection of the Other Person. The Letters of Virginia Woolf, vol. IV: 1929–1931, ed. Nigel Nicolson (London: Hogarth Press, 1978), pp. 8–9.