Posts Tagged ‘Strandkorb’

Strandbad Wannsee – still popular

Monday, January 22nd, 2018

Strandbad Wannsee has been a popular public swimming area in Berlin, Germany, for the past 100 years. It is located on the eastern shore of the River Havel, where the river forms a large bay, the Grosser Wannsee. Its broad, shallow beach is almost one mile long and is replenished annually with sand from the Baltic. Four historic two-story, clinkered buildings are arranged in a row parallel to the beach.

Strandbad Wannsee is one of the largest such inland lidos in Europe. It is run by the City of Berlin, and on a hot summer day, up to 30,000 visitors take advantage of this public beach. There is something for everyone: Strandkorb and deckchair rentals are available, http://www.walled-in-berlin.com/j-elke-ertle/distinctly-german-the-strandkorb/ a separate nude-bathing section is offered, http://www.walled-in-berlin.com/j-elke-ertle/the-skinny-on-nude-bathers-in-germany/ and a water slide, a playground for children and a park and promenade for the entire family are on hand.

 

Strandbad Wannsee as seen from the River Havel. Photo © J. Elke Ertle, 2017, www.walled-in-berlin.com

Strandbad Wannsee as seen from the River Havel. Photo © J. Elke Ertle, 2017, www.walled-in-berlin.com

History of Strandbad Wannsee

Following Germany’s first unification in 1871 http://www.walled-in-berlin.com/j-elke-ertle/otto-von-bismarck-visionary-or-villain/, the City of Berlin experienced an unprecedented population growth. Existing housing could not absorb the sudden influx, so that inhabitants ended up packed into tiny flats like sardines, without much light or fresh air. As a result, residents sought escape in the great outdoors. But their yearning for sun and fresh air caused a new problem because the moral standards of the time demanded that men and women not bath within sight of each other.

In 1909, a public beach and swimming area – which eventually became the Strandbad Wannsee – was constructed at the River Havel. It was built with distinctly separate sections for men, women and families. The sections were separated by wooden fences, each containing tents that served as changing facilities. Changing stations were surrounded by yet another fence to discourage looky-loos.

After World War I, the City of Berlin took over Strandbad Wannsee. In 1924, the tents were replaced by thatched pavilions, and the sanitary facilities were improved. By then, the S-Bahn, Berlin’s elevated train system, had opened and made the area more accessible. During World War II, Strandbad Wannsee provided a welcome escape from the devastation in the city.

Pack your swimsuit … and off to Strandbad Wannsee

In 1951, eight-year-old Conny Froboess turned Strandbad Wannsee into a household word with her song Pack die Badehose ein … und nichts wie raus nach Wannsee (Pack your swimsuit … and off the Strandbad Wannsee). Conny was only two years older than I, and I envied her for being able to ride her bike, unsupervised, to the Wannsee lido. I only dreamt of such autonomy. The song, written by her father, became one of the great hits of that time.  To hear Conny Froboess, click https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UhZEba0SWNs

 

For a sneak peek at the first 20+ pages of my memoir, Walled-In: A West Berlin Girl’s Journey to Freedom, click “Download a free excerpt” on the home page of http://www.walled-in-berlin.com Walled-In is my story of growing up in Berlin during the Cold War.

The Strandkorb – Distinctly German

Thursday, August 21st, 2014

August is beach season, and a “sun-sand-sea-and-wind holiday”on Germany’s North Sea and Baltic beaches almost always involves renting a Strandkorb. These distinctly German beach baskets allow their occupants to soak up the sun while avoiding the scouring sand that frequently travels the windswept beaches. Besides, a Strandkorb quickly becomes “home away from home” when beachgoers build a low wall of sand–called a castle–around their basket and decorate it with seashells. For generations, Germany’s beaches have been dotted with legions of these beach baskets each summer.

What is a Strandkorb?

A Strandkorb is a sturdy, adjustable armchair for two, made from wicker, cane and/or wood and allows its occupants to curl up in the basket’s interior or to soak up the sun’s last rays while all stretched out. A small built-in table makes it possible to lunch or dine at water’s edge. But the Strandkorb is much more than a utilitarian piece of furniture. It is a uniquely constructed piece of art that comes with many options, such as drawers at the base that serve as foot rests and storage, backward-tilting roofs, armrests with foldaway trays, heated seats and rainproof covers. There are even special models for children and pets.

Strandkorb around 1950 , Photo © J. Elke Ertle 2014, www.walled-in-berlin.com

Strandkorb around 1950 Photo © J. Elke Ertle 2014, www.walled-in-berlin.com

Strandkorb History

In 1882, the noble woman Elfriede von Maltzahn asked Wilhelm Bartelmann, chief basket maker to the Imperial Court of Emperor Wilhelm I, to built her a beach chair.  She asked for protection from excessive sun and wind while accommodating her rheumatism. Mr. Bartelmann designed a large, canopied, single-seated armchair. Considering that beach furniture was unheard of prior to 1882, Mrs. von Maltzahn’s Strandkorb became the envy of beachgoers in Warnemuende that year, the sea resort on the Baltic Sea she frequented. Encouraged by the enthusiastic reception of his armchair, Bartelmann designed a two-seater the following year, and his wife opened a beach basket rental service. Since then, the Strandkorb hasn’t left the German beach scene.

The Strandkorb Today

Todays Baltic and North Sea beaches are dotted with more than 70,000 of these covered wicker beach baskets. Two distinct variations have evolved: The straight angular North Sea Strandkorb and the rounded Baltic Sea model. But these beach baskets are no longer relegated exclusively to the beach. You also see them on balconies and patios. A friend of mine received a Strandkorb as a retirement present and uses it to relax in her garden. Despite their weight (up to 200 lbs), the baskets are shipped all over the world. It takes around $700-$3,000 plus shipping costs to become the proud owner of a Strandkorb.

 

For a sneak peek at the first 20+ pages of my memoir, Walled-In: A West Berlin Girl’s Journey to Freedom, click “Download a free excerpt” on the home page of http://www.walled-in-berlin.com. Walled-In is a story of growing up in Berlin during the Cold War.