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Großer Wannsee

Under the Open Sky Into a World of Pleasure

Fritz Bleyl, Märkische Landschaftsstudie I – Wannsee, 1916, Brücke-Museum, © Bleyl, Berlin/Solingen

Towards the end of the 19th century, a new train line connected the Große Wannsee to central Berlin, which led to major transformations. It lured the city’s well-to-do bourgeoisie to the southern shore, where they built opulent villas. And for everyone else, the expansive lake became a convenient destination for quick trips, that promised both relaxation and amusement. Then as now, Berliners would set out with their whole family to spend the weekends there, away from the confines of the densely populated city.

The expansive offshoot of the Havel river invited visitors to swim and lounge. In 1907, the Wannseebad, which is still popular today, opened on the east bank with a sandy beach more than a kilometer long. For those who wanted some rest from the action on the beach, the surrounding green forests were perfect for long strolls. In 1916, the former Brücke artist Fritz Bleyl sought out the tranquillity of a leafy shore far away from the main beach to draw. Only a small sailboat in the middle of the lake announces the presence of people. At the time, Bleyl was running a workshop not far from the town of Brandenburg for people who had been disabled during the war. His excursions to the Wannsee’s picturesque shores offered some distraction from the ubiquity war in his daily life.

Valentina Bay and Isabel Fischer


Wannsee, 1920s, video excerpt from: Berlin photographs from the 1920s, F Rep. 400 No. 633, Landesarchiv Berlin

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