In 2021, I visited my mother town Berlin four times. I very much enjoyed the tour of seven lakes starting at the Wannsee peer. It reawakened memories of sixty years ago.
At the Wannsee peer we buy tickets from Reederei Werner Triebler.
The captain will give us detailed information, while gliding along the lakes and channels. He asks for a tip in the “Quassel-Kasse” (palavering cash box).
Do not take the disinfectant bottle with you! Well, times are very special now, with Covid.
With us travels this lovely butterfly – perhaps not the whole tour.
This is the route of the “7 Seenrundfahrt” starting at the Grosser Wannsee, continuing to Jungfernsee, Glienicker Lake, Griebnitzsee, Stölpchensee, Pohlesee, kleiner Wannsee and at the end returning to the Grosser Wannsee.
Source: Google maps and my additions
We start on the Grosser Wannsee, …
… looking back at the famous Strandbad (lido) Wannsee. In my heart I hear the 1951 song of Conny Froboess: “Pack die Badehose ein, nimm Dein kleines Schwesterlein und dann nüscht wie raus nach Wannsee” (pack your bathing trunk, take your little sister and after that it is time to go to the Wannsee).
Now, in September, the Wannsee beach is empty.
The villa of the Wannsee Conference “glides” by.
Sailing boats in the sun. The Grunewald Tower, another bombastic oeuvre of Emperor William II, appears above the trees in the background.
We pass by the Pfaueninsel with its small castle.
After that we see the protestant Heilandskirche (Church of the Redeemer) of Sacrow, built in Neo-Romanesque-Lombardian style in 1844.
Until 1989, Sacrow was part of the GDR; with my mother, I looked at Sacrow from the Pfaueninsel in 1966 and I remember the barbwire in the water that prevented us from getting there. My mother wrote in her 1966 diary: “(Across from the Pfaueninsel) is Sacrow on the western shore (of the Havel) in the East Zone. I have often been at Sacrow.” The barbwires were a nightmare that, today, I cannot believe was once reality.
The memories of the nightmare continue at the Glienickerbrücke (Glienicke bridge). The border between Brandenburg (formerly GDR) and Berlin (formerly West-Berlin) is in the middle of this bridge. Until 1989, the “west” ended east of this bridge. Still today, the Berlin part of the bridge is darker than the Brandenburg part. Across this bridge, agents were exchanged between the GDR and the BRD.
In 1966, my grand uncle Ferdinand drove my mother and me to the Glienickebrücke, then closed and separating the GDR and West-Berlin.
My mother wrote in her diary: “Now I stand in front of this bridge that I had crossed so often. On this side of the Havel river, there is a policeman of West Berlin. He is allowed to go up to the middle of the bridge. On the other side of the Havel is the (eastern) Volkspolizei (member of the People’s Police). It is most distressing to look at the barricades on the other (eastern) waterfront of the Havel. Barbwire spirals reach into the water and cover the whole bank, up to the level of the bridgehead. In the water, there are buoys that mark the “border”. On the other (eastern) side, we cannot see one single person. All seems “icily calm”. On this (western) side of the Bridge of Unity (as they called it in the GDR), …, there is a considerable amount of people, even on this early afternoon of a weekday, that look at this scenery without understanding. Below the bridge West Berlin ends and here is the last station of the Stern- und Kreissschiffahrt: Glienickerbrücke…”
Today, we do not stop at Glienickebrücke. The impassable border has disappeared. Our boat passes under the bridge and into the former GDR waters; the gloomy scenery of 1966 seems unthinkable.
The Babelsberg palace appears on the right hand side. Babelsberg is now the centre of the German film industry.
We continue to the Griebnitzsee and turn north, where the Teltow channel starts . This channel was opened in 1906, is about 40 km long, borders Kleinmachnow and ends south of Köpenick.
In the Griebnitzsee we watch these rowers move synchronously – beautiful.
In 1966, I was also here with my mother. We had taken a boat going south from the Wannsee to the Griebnitzsee, as far as West Berlin reached. My mother wrote in her diary that it was here, where for the first time, we saw the barbwire “mess” (“Gewirr”) at the southern bank of the Griebnitzsee, as half of this lake belonged to the GDR .
We reach the Griebnitzkanal that connects the Griebnitzsee with the Stölpchensee.
Now we have entered the Stölpchensee with the settlement Stolpe.
The protestant church “am Stölpchensee” is from 1859, built in Neo-Romanesque style, whereby the tower has been adorned with four Neo-Gothic turrets which is a somewhat awkward decoration.
“Stölpchen” is related to slawic “столб” or “stolb” which means pole. Perhaps it describes the shape of the small lake.
The Alsenbrücke (Alsen bridge) with the Jugendstil handrail of 1906 crosses the Prinz Friedrich Leopold Kanal between Stölpchensee and Pohlesee.
We enter the Kleiner Wannsee. On the eastern side, not far from this villa is the tomb of Kleist (Kleistgrab). It was here that Kleist committed suicide in 1811, with his friend Henriette Vogel. It is only a short walk away from the S-Bahn station Wannsee. This is another place to visit, the next time that I will be in Berlin.
Still in the Kleiner Wannsee, we admire the former GDR state yacht Albin Köbis, in use until 1971, acquired and renovated in 2009 by a private person.
This villa in the lush garden is hiding behind a weeping willow.
Our boat enters the Grosser Wannsee and soon thereafter, we leave it at the Wannsee peer. Thank you, Captain, it was a wonderful tour. You do deserve a tip for your “Quasselkasse”.
- Diary of my mother, Dr. Marion Peters-Radzyk, Berlin, 1966
- Various Websites linked in about the former GDR yacht, the Kleistgrab, the church am Stölpchensee and the Reederei Werner Triebler