Sporthotel Hohenschönhausen: The drugs don't work

Filed 29/4/2016 |
The drugs alone aren’t enough. They don’t work. In fact, they just make you worse, as The Verve once sung. But I know I’ll see your face again…
East Germany’s athletes’ faces were seen again and again and again. They were great, better than all the other athletes – before the others started taking drugs too. The poor DDR athletes, who oftentimes didn’t know they were doped, were feted while winners, now dismissed as cheaters no matter their achievements, all tarnished through guilt by association.
Now it’s the hotel they stayed in that needs drugs. And quick! The more drugs the better. Doesn’t matter they don’t work – it can’t get any worse.
The Sporthotel und Kongresszentrum des Sportforums Hohenschönhausen really is in a sorry state, beyond salvation, trashed, smashed, burnt, pillaged, used and abused.
This junkie is waiting for the end, the end to its suffering, the next hit, life, death, it doesn’t care, it doesn’t matter.
It used to be so different. Oh, the good times seem so long ago now! But there were good times, in another country, back in the DDR, where the sport-hotel and congress center were built toward the end of the 1970s to cater for stars of the adjoining Sportforum Hohenschönhausen complex, the second biggest sports training center in Berlin after Olympiapark.
The sports complex, constructed from 1954, is around 45 hectares big, comprising a football stadium, gymnastics halls, ice-skating halls, indoor and outdoor facilities for athletics, volleyball, handball, judo, fencing, archery and beach volleyball. Germans love their sports – it helps release their pent-up rage from having the verbs at the end of sentences.
Dynamo Berlin still use it, as they did during their DDR heyday supported by Stasi boss Erich Mielke. Let’s just say he pulled a few strings.
The complex was also home to the Eisbären Berlin (Berlin Polar Bears) hockey team, before they upped sticks for the new shiny fancy-pants corporate venue down beside the East Side Gallery. Not cool, Eisbären, not cool.
But there are still enough teams and people making use of the complex, apparently around 3,000 athletes every day. Germany’s biggest Olympic training center is here too.
I thought it was abandoned on my first visit until I tried making my way in only to find it well-secured, shiny, clean and impervious. Then I saw people and figured it was still in use.
Athletes like discus champion Robert Harting or speedskaters Claudia Pechstein and Jenny Wolf train here – though none of them will go within an ass’s roar of the sorry sport-hotel and congress center, discarded and forgotten to the side.
Only rats, pigeons and zombies use it now, finding it a cheaper alternative to more comfortable and centrally located options in Mitte. Broken glass, shattered metal, shredded curtains – the shine has long gone from its achievements.
Apparently Pechstein used to eat in the congress center’s restaurant, as did swimmer Franziska van Almsick and handball player Stefan Kretzschmar among others.
“You could see them every day. They were known then too,” Eisbär Sven Felski told the Berliner Kurier. “It’s a scandal what’s happened there.”
You certainly couldn’t eat any of the food you’d find there now. The pungent scent of piss wafts blissfully through the air. No need for urine tests, there’s plenty of it.
Former DDR ice hockey Legende Hartmut Nickel told Berliner Kurier that the players would stay there for international games back in the good old days. The hotel was modestly furnished but it had all they needed. Presumably it didn’t reek of piss back then.
“The name says it all: Sporthotel! The sportsman doesn’t need Schnickschnack (bells and whistles) – he has to deliver good performances,” Nickel said. “I don’t understand how it can go down the drain.”
I’m not sure when it was abandoned exactly but it was already in a bad way in 2007-08, when Sat 1 shot some series called “GSG 9 - Ihr Einsatz ist ihr Leben” here. No doubt it was crap.
Now there are plans to knock it down and replace it with a skyscraper complex of glass and steel called “The Square 3” – not “Der Platz 3” because it isn’t cool to have German names in Germany anymore. Englisch ist viel cooler.
Construction of the three towers at a cost of €450 million (in 2013) was supposed to be already underway but bureaucratic hurdles have led to delays. Dit ist Berlin.
The sport-hotel and congress center are still waiting to be put out of their misery. Now the drugs don't work, they just make you worse, but I know I'll see your face again.

Sporthotel und Kongresszentrum des Sportforums Hohenschönhausen, or the Hohenschönhausen Sportforum’s hotel and congress center, a relic of the DDR, abandoned some time before 2007 and left to rot in its own filth since. A lovely place.

Weißenseer Weg / Konrad-Wolf-Straße, 13055 Berlin, Germany.

How to get there
Trams! The M6 goes all the way from S-Bahnhof Hackescher Markt and the M5 goes from Hauptbahnhof. Both stop right outside the door. The stop’s called Hohenschönhauser Str./Weißenseer Weg. Just walk across the road till you see the big obvious ruin on the corner. That’s it.
Otherwise, if you’re not lazy or your bike hasn’t already been stolen, you could just cycle here. At least then you won’t have to wait for the damn tram to turn up, unless your bike was stolen while you were exploring. Best to bring a couple of bikes just in case. 

Here it is on a map.

Getting in
Some unfriendly people have gone to great trouble to keep people out with a great big fence all around the property. Probably the AfD, Pegida, NDP or Frontex – they’re all big into fences and keeping people out. But thankfully there are holes in the fence through which most normal-sized humans can fit.
Go around to the back of the taller building, find the hole in the fence there, go in, and go to the corner where the two buildings meet. On the opposite corner you should see a convenient little mound of wood underneath what used to be a window. That’s your way in.
You’ll need to clamber over the wood and pull yourself up onto the windowsill. It’s a bit tricky but it should be manageable for most people. There’s a wooden table on the other side, a bit shaky, but it can help you get down again. Be careful!
Otherwise, athletic types can climb over the planks at the staircase on the other side. It’s harder though. This is also an alternative way out.

When to go
Daytime is safer to avoid injury, nighttime more exciting if you want a party. You could potentially get onto the roof for a sunset beer, though the vistas in this part of Berlin are not exactly inspiring.

Difficulty rating
6/10. Getting in is a bit tricky – it used to be a lot easier.

Who to bring
DDR sports fans, your boyfriend/girlfriend if they’re impressed by Hohenschönhausen sunsets, your pet rat if he or she’d like to meet other rats.

What to bring
Bring a torch so you don’t trip over anything or fall down any deep holes. Jaysus, you don’t want to fall in any of them holes! Otherwise, the usual stuff – camera, sandwiches, beer, wine, wodka, Beyoncé lemonade, Hohenschönhausen guidebook, a few bowling balls…

Life is full of them, nowhere’s safe, so just be careful and you’ll be fine. Of course, watch out you don’t plunge to your death, get eaten by zombies or nabbed by Polizei – just like you would anywhere else.

Many thanks for Monica for the tip, Daniel Cassus for the reminder, and Mark Rodden for proofreading again!
Sporthotel Hohenschönhausen 4243416375887795451


do you enter the white building next to this building? it was the main part of the hotel.

No, unfortunately not. You'd need a good ladder and I don't even have a bad one.

great man thanks for the update !
but why they put a fence around it ? do you have any informations about it?

I was there beginning of March..and there was no fence at all around the property. I found a metal sort of ladder, which I put up against the window (at the backside..the side where the apartment block is), close to where the spiral staircase (the 1 in your pic) is lying in the grass. And was easy to get in...but not tat much to see inside anymore. Seems someone took the ladder away...?

We just went there last week and didn't have any issues. There was a few different ways of getting in. We did run into someone sleeping there, but he just yelled and we went the other way (he kept yelling, but we never actually saw him so whatever). You can get to the white/main part of the building from the caved in connection between the two. You can climb up the rubble that was part of the ceiling, get on top of the crossway, and then head over to the other building, which is considerably cleaner than the more easily accessed portion.

You can get to the white/main part of the building from the caved in connection between the two. You can climb up the rubble that was part of the ceiling, get on top of the crossway, and then head over to the other building, which is considerably cleaner than the more easily accessed portion.

You can get to the white/main part of the building from the caved in connection between the two. You can climb up the rubble that was part of the ceiling, get on top of the crossway, and then head over to the other building, which is considerably cleaner than the more easily accessed portion.

I went in last week, it was very easy to get in, the fence was down and I just walked in. However, the reason is there's been a massive fire, it was impossible to go from one building to the other as the roof had collapsed in the middle,so you'd have to go around from the outside and find your way in again. Also, please be careful, there was lots of asbestos lying around, exposed by the fire damage. There are people living there as it's very easy to get in and out right now, so be respectful and stay out of their way. I had no problems, but I still felt a bit uneasy, and the fire certainly added a creep factor to the building. Great explore though ��

I went there today.. At first there is a quite new fence all arround so you can only enter the building at main door with the big stairs. Sadly we only were in the white building which isn't interesting at all: tons of garbage, empty bottles, sleeping backs and crap..
We tried to enter the main building, but because of the soccer field and the appartments you can't get arround the whole building, without getting noticed. Like some people already wrote, the connection between the white and the main building is destroyed by a fire, so you can't enter through that. I was a bit disappointed about my visit :(

the connection between the 2 is destroyed, but because it's destroyed, the roof caved in, and you can actually easily climb up the rubble and get on the roof between the 2 buildings and easily get to the main building

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