A Bowling Alley in a Former Nazi Labour Camp

by jonnywhitlam

This is a weird one.

The Nazis used to have forced labour sites all across Berlin, Germany and Europe, there even used to be one on the corner of my street (it’s a Sports Bar now). This was not limited to the infamous concentration camp system under the SS. Under the Nazis forced labour ranged from the extreme, such as Auschwitz and Mathausen, to the mundane such as forcing ‘normal’ citizens into things such as crafting supply crates and uniforms for the Wehrmacht.

One such forced labour camp survived the war, the de-Nazifaction and the East German government’s attitude to inheriting no guilt at all from the fascists. Today it is a memorial site in the south of Berlin, Schöneweide. The site is fairly close to Schöneweide station. The museum is very well presented, with plenty of photos, diagrams and maps that should mean one could understand with only a basic level of German (there is very little available information in English at the site).

So why have I told you this information and shown you a weird photo of a bowling alley?

Most of the former barracks are still standing, as you walk down the street next to the memorial site you can see that the buildings have been put to use. You’ll see a mechanic using one as storage, a massage parlour, a kindergarten, a bürgeramt and then yes, a pub.

Naturally I visited the pub.

Inside was a group of incredibly happy and proud elderly East Germans. I had the feeling they’d been coming here since the ’70s and that not much had really changed inside since then. They proudly showed me and two friends their 6 Kegel-bowling alleys.

Sadly this is the only photo I was able to get as I visited fairly unexpectedly (who expects to find a bowling alley in these places?) and I only had my Film-SLR with me, and the light was failing me. Next time.

So there you have it, the weirdest thing I’ve found in Berlin so far; a bowling alley in a Nazi forced labour camp.

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