Once a park for Pioneers, Wuhlheide – Berlin

Katrin takes Lotte to the FEZ in the Wuhlheide, south-east of Berlin city centre. The park is quiet on this November weekend, although in the main hall kids crowd around the arts and crafts tables or wait, patiently or otherwise, for the play on the stage of the Astrid Lingren Theatre to begin. When Katrin first came here, as a child herself, this was the Ernst Thälmann Pioneers’ Park, inaugurated by the first President of the German Democratic Republic in 1950. It was the location for the 3rd World Festival of Youth and Students one year later, and again for the tenth edition in 1973. By that point it had grown from the original tent village to a facility including an open air stage, a sports stadium and indoor activity rooms… tens of thousands of children who grew up in East Germany came to the Pioneer Park each year. Most of attractions that Katrin enjoyed as a child are still there for her daughter, from the playground and forest trails, swimming pool and stages for different events and shows. The railway still runs – although it is no longer operated by the Pioneers themselves, for they have all grown up now and are bringing their own children to the park, to find their own adventures beneath the trees.

Pictures: Katrin Schönig

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