Funkhaus Grünau: Riverside radiowaves

Filed 2/10/2014 | Updated 29/12/2014
Look for the ghosts of Soviet disc jockeys and you’ll find raccoons. Expect the unexpected and you’ll find it, just not the unexpected you expected.
I certainly wasn’t expecting raccoons at Funkhaus Grünau when I was looking for traces of Russian radio presenters. I didn’t know they even existed in Germany, but have since found out that raccoons have made themselves at home here, much like the Russians did before them. Of course the raccoons are North American, further proof – if needed – of who won the Cold War.
Long before they spun their records – the Russians, not the raccoons – rowers and riverhogs used to splash about here on the banks of the River Dahme when it began life as a boathouse.
It was built on a site spanning almost 7,500 square meters to plans by architect Otto Zbrzezny between 1929-30, when it became the last in a long line of impressive boathouses along the Regattastraße. There had been a tradition of watersport in Grünau for the previous 130 years.
Owned by the Dresdner Bank, which took over in 1934, the later “Funkhaus” was the largest rowing and recreation center in Germany at the time, according to the Berliner Zeitung. But of course its destiny changed with the war. Everything did.
The German Wehrmacht took over in 1940 to use it as a back-up military hospital. It was damaged toward the end of the war as fighting took its toll, not that that’s surprising.
The occupying Soviet Military Administration in Germany (SMAD), which was headquartered in Karlshorst, took over and decreed that its boating days were definitely over. It had had its last splash – radio was the way to go. Boat sheds were converted to classrooms, barracks emerged and the large two story-high ballroom was converted into recording studios.
The Soviets had set up the Berliner Rundfunk in 1945 and an editorial team began broadcasting from the former Grünau boathouse and its neighbor in September 1946. Radio programs were also produced for stations in Leipzig, Dresden, Schwerin, Magdeburg and Weimar.
Initially, Berliner Rundfunk broadcast from Haus des Rundfunks in Charlottenburg, in the British sector, so that wasn’t going to last. The Allies played hard ball and started hampering Soviet broadcasting efforts.
Meanwhile, the SMAD handed the Grünau radio studios to the East Germans in May 1948. It was henceforth known as Funkhaus Grünau, and it played an important role as a back-up broadcasting facility when the Allies’ meddling became more intrusive at Haus des Rundfunks.
East Germany set up its broadcasting school here in 1951. But it remained important for political reasons. Berliner Rundfunk operated from Grünau for a few months in 1952, before Funkhaus Nalepastraße was constructed. The new Funkhaus later became the headquarters for Rundfunk der DDR. Most journalists had moved from Grünau to Nalepastraße by 1956.
In 1956-57 the “Freiheitssender 904” program was broadcast from Funkhaus Grünau in response to the banning of the West German Communist Party (KPD). It was supposed to be the “voice of opposition” to West German policies.
Mostly though, it educated aspiring broadcasters with faces made for radio. They learned the pitfalls of radio technology and training was provided right up to the end of 1991.
Twinkle-toed TV people had also mixed with the radio stars going back as far as 1960. A former broadcasting hall upstairs served as a rehearsal room for the Deutsches Fernsehballett (German Television Ballet), also up to the end of 1991.
The previous owner, Neuköllner Bildungswerk, filed for bankruptcy in 2007 and the Funkhaus was put up for auction. It was snapped up by Hamburg asset management company EHP in March 2008 for €655,000.
In 2012 the artists moved in, playing their dutiful but unwitting role as shepherds of gentrification. They did some pretty cool stuff, anti-fashion shows, a “Schrottregatta,” workshops, and some of the art is wonderful, but they’re not lucrative to speculators in the long run. Kunterfunk e.V. had two good summers before getting turfed out toward the end of 2013.
“They were 1½ intensive years that none of us would have missed,” the group wrote. “People came together and created magical things, dreams and ideas were realized and an architectural monument was resurrected. We’ll always have it in our hearts.”
There had been complaints from the posh neighbors, outraged behind their tall gates, and of course an asset management company will listen to money. It was only a matter of time before they turfed the artists out anyway.
But it's typical Berlin, reminiscent of the story behind Tacheles. For once an abandoned building had found a good use. Money objected, and now it’s abandoned again, at least for the period of time before the inevitable apartments take over.
Now there’s just the raccoon. It won’t be long before he has to make way too. Funkhaus Grünau is over and out.

Funkhaus Grünau, former boathouse, then military hospital, then broadcaster, then artist workshop space, now home to a raccoon.

Regattastraße 277, Grünau, 12527 Berlin, Germany.

How to get there
Get the S-Bahn to Grünau and then either cycle, walk or get the tram from there. Tram 68 will bring you more or less to the door if you get off at Regattastr./Sportpromenade (Berlin). You’ll need to walk on a few meters and you’ll see it on your left. Jaysus, I nearly forgot the map! Here it is.

Getting in
Easiest way I* found on the first visit was the front door. I pushed it and it opened. On the second visit it was locked, meaning someone had bolted it from the inside. Then we circled the perimeter and found the handiest way in was by climbing the fence to the right of the door on the main path. Wait till any nosy passers-by have passed by.
To get into the building itself, there’s a broken window on the bottom floor that you can crawl in through, or if you go up the steps, you’ll find it even easier to get in through the open doorway on the first floor.

When to go
Daytime, preferably a nice sunny evening so you can have a picnic by the riverbank. It’s lovely. I presume it’s lovely at night too. But if you go beforehand you can explore in daylight and settle back to watch the sun set over Berlin. Best of both worlds.

Difficulty rating
4/10 It’s a bit out of the way but the trip is worth it, particularly on a nice evening with a girlfriend/boyfriend in tow.

Who to bring
Girlfriend/boyfriend to enjoy one of Berlin’s most romantic locations. Just make sure they’re not allergic to raccoons.

What to bring
I’ve no idea what raccoons eat. Maybe a few biscuits. Better bring beer, I suppose. If the raccoon won’t drink it you will. Whatever you do, bring a bottle of wine, a camera and a torch.

Watch out for nosy neighbors. There’s a gated community nearby; they probably have a direct line to the Polizei. Their lives are dependent on Recht und Ordnung, as indeed many small-minded minds are. High walls, video phones. Wouldn’t you know it – video killed the radio star.

Many thanks to Monica for the tip and Mark Rodden for his copy-editing skills!

*I is the letter after H and does not necessarily refer to anyone in particular, be they man, woman or raccoon.

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Very nice pictures! FYI: main door is open. Second floor is locked, probably occupied. We met few relaxed people. The place is not a must to see. But nice at sunset

Paging for fellow explorer who want to join me and visit some abandoned places in Berlin! :-)
I am available from the the 12th to the 16th! If interested please reply to this comment!

Nice place its sooo esey to get in.There is a Window left from the front door it very smal but every esey and than your inside it very safe :) and to the other Dude i have time for a great trip :)

Hey! Love your website, beautiful!

I was wondering if you knew this place :

I'm diying to visit it but I can not find it's location!
Please help me if you have an idee!



You'll find former Kabelwerk Köpenick at Friedrichshagener Straße 31,12555 Berlin, 52.451177, 13.589649

Most unfortunately, the much more interesting lost place next door from Kabelwerk Köpenick, the VEB Fotochemische Werke, a former Kodak plant, where since 1920's films have been produced, has recently been bricked. So one of the last places in Berlin with lots of original equipment still in situ is not accessible at the moment... And that though it's never been mentioned here :))

No, I have pictures from a previous visit. I still need to write it up! Of course, now I'll need to find another way in...

Still open... If front door is closed, hope over the fence on right side and take any open windows. Leaving, you can easily open the front door from inside. As mentioned by Spudnik, take care of neighbours and passers-by. There still is a a mosaicked floor in the oval vestibule. It shows two rings and letters D and N. The house-builder was "Darmstädter und National-Bank" (Short: Danat-Bank), which ended up bankrupt in sommer 1931 and later was fused with Dresdner Bank.

I shoot a nice Halloween movie there for my youtube channel! Have fun! It's very creepy. :)

Last Halloween i shoot a nice HORROR MOVIE! P.T. SILENT HILLS in REAL LIFE!
You can see this awesome location! :)

We've been there today despite the S-Bahn strike. Cool place with a special atmosphere. We met three groups of people visiting it - looks like it's becoming a popular place for alternative tourism!
The fence door on the right was open, and then you could get into the house through the basement door which was open (you have to go down the stairs on the right side of the house. We had access to all floors.

My pics:

After a year, a place full of life and ideas has become another sad abandoned place in Berlin.
thanks to the owner, who prefers that the Funkhaus is frequented now by satanists and vandals,
rather than a community of people who was working to keep it as a precious historical beautiful and culturally active place.
I imagine that the owner is waiting for the vandals destroy the building step by step to the point of being able to have the right to shoot it down and build a new contemporary-shit-building or a hotel on the river for the rich people who don't care about the old and recent history of the place and the nature around it, and about all the beautiful people, ideas and energy that was at home there.
bye bye Funky ;(

These are beautiful pictures. (Better than mine!) Thanks for sharing.

Not that I am a fan of artists occupying space that could otherwise be used for living while making deals with people that they are closer to in privileges than people squatting for necesity but I don't see how this particular deal aided the real estate owner. If anything it devalued it momentarily. So I think this comment should be reconsidered: "In 2012 the artists moved in, playing their dutiful but unwitting role as shepherds of gentrification." It would have been gentrification if it would have been a pretty cheap area to start with and then would have gotten more expensive on account of a influx of money from outside the community but as you yourself noticed the area is pretty snoby already.

went in and got scared off as there were voices close by. dont know how the others will do when met...
so i could not go to the other side and not more up in the house. wanna go back!

went again and have to inform you that they closed the front door. No way in :-( I checked everything.
Guess you must be lucky if someone is in so that the door is open again, but then you will probably walk into the arms of someone called owner.....
What a pity.

The front door isn't the only way of getting in. See "Getting in" above.

Nope. From the waterfront was also no way. Windows nailed down. Been there twice :-(

Oh and that open window next to the steps in the backyard. It did not lead to anything. It was a room with no connections, but full with garbage....

Was there today. Fortunately, the front door was open. I think both the side doors are locked. To open windows or doors to the terrace you need a torx screw driver, though.

Was there today. It's completly locked.

Me and my best friend visited the Funkhaus today and we were not disappointed. It was just great! But sadly I have to say that there was way more vandalism since you were there for the last time, I can tell by the photos you've made. Although it's really worth the long walk in case you just missed the tram! We got some great photos and it was a really cool experience!

in addition to my last comment, I wanted to share how we got in there. on the left of the building is a big gate. I just tried to open it and it actually was unlocked. then we went to the backside of the building, on the other end you'll find an open door!

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

I'm agree.
and i would like add...
''gentrification'' is an abused word today
to justify this bad atmosphere in the city of a non-sense war between all kind of poor people.

In this case, the place around it was already rich e snob from very long time ago.
The people of Grunau maybe prefer that their pretty sons go to the Funkhaus to call Satan, rather then to being part of a cultural project....

it could be beautiful if this place will be save from the indifference and it will be used again and better to give home and chance to less fortunate people or more sensible people.

we can hope...or we can talk again with the sensibilize his cold heart.

there is nothing wrong if a group of sensible person meets a rich owner and propose to him to do positive things inside his building, there is nothing wrong...
the same with any kind of people who propose to use an abandoned place instead to not consider it at all.

The gentrification around, come from a cinic way to use good people and good ideas to make money money money...

about gentrification, i think that
maybe we just must learn to make good things considering about the future impact around it.

Meanwhile, we all must not fall into the perverse game of reciprocal accusations of contributing to gentrification... gentrification is an abused word, and a bad apology to create a bad atmosphere in the city for a war between poor people, meanwhile that ''big powers'' do anyway what they want...

WARNING TO ALL: I visited just a few days ago and someone now seems to live on the property. While investigating the fence along the ride side of the building, we noticed a smaller detached structure next to the main building that definitely has someone living in it. We saw a TV that had power and also noticed someone walking around inside. The same person has a car parked in the driveway to the left of the main building. Not sure why they're living on the property, but it's possible they're some sort of caretaker.

Having said that, it is still possible to make entry as long as you avoid the right side of the property and make sure the person doesn't see you before you get into the main building. This "caretaker" actually walked through the gate to the driveway and accidentally left the gate slightly open. Be careful because attempting to climb this black gate with the spikes WILL result in injury (the spikes are still very sharp). The front door is locked and all the windows seem to be sealed. The only way we could see to enter was via a door that leads into the cellar. Once inside the cellar just take the stairs up to the other floors.

I went there last Saturday at 9 am. I hopped over the wall on the right side of the property where there is the detached structure next to the main building. The blinds of the windows were pulled down so I could easily walk around the main building to the entrance of the basement on the left side. However, when I tried to enter the building a guy from the other side of the street called me. He seems to be some sort of caretaker. But he was very kind and opened the main gate so I did not have to climb over the wall/gate. Anyway, a friend of mine successfully entered the building half an hour later through a window on the first floor. My advice is to go there early in the morning, climb over the wall on the right side and enter the building through the window on the first floor. Cheers

I was there last week and they were almost finished demolishing it, just one small piece lesft which I was able to explore... It must be all gone by now :(

It seems someone is living in the house nearby the Funkhaus on the same area. I saw light and laundry on a washing line.

As of August 2016, no external doors are open, all windows have been closed with tables, and there's a security guy in the garden who is connected by radio to a central. Anyway if you still feel like climbing the fence and trying to get in hiding from the security guy, there is just ONE window which allows access, at the first floor, going upstairs outdoors, at the very end of the terrace. That's it. Yet accessible but MUCH harder than before.

Hello from a fellow paddy..have to say you have a great site.. I find berlin a great spot for the history..have been their 3 times over the last few years.. I've been to the usual ww2/ddr sites..on my last trip which was in may17 i went to the russkie/german museum in karlhorst.. fascinating place.. preserved like it was 1945.. t34 & Stalin organs out the back plus free in.. their was alot of building work going on..I remember u mentioned on one of ur updates that the was building's that were part of the soviet occupation force that were been knocked.. keep up the good work..cheers mick

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