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For other uses, see Waldbühne (disambiguation).

The Waldbühne (Woodland Stage or Forest Stage) is an amphitheatre in Berlin, Germany. It was designed by German architect Werner March in emulation of a Greek theatre and built between 1934 and 1936 as the Dietrich-Eckart-Bühne (Dietrich Eckart Stage), a Nazi Thingplatz, and opened in association with the 1936 Summer Olympics. Since World War II it has been used for a variety of events, including boxing matches, film showings and classical and rock concerts. It seats more than 22,000 people. The venue is located off Friedrich-Friesen-Allee just northeast of Glockenturmstraße.

Third Reich

The theatre was built as part of the Olympic complex on the request of Propaganda Minister Joseph Goebbels.[1] March made use of a natural ravine and modelled the theatre on ancient Greek amphitheatres.[2][3] With the intent of showing the kinship between ancient Greek and Germanic culture, the entrance is flanked by two pairs of reliefs by Adolf Wamper: on the left, representing the "Fatherland", two male nudes, one with a sword, the other with a spear,[2][4] a pairing that was to be used more famously by Arno Breker;[5] and on the right, representing artistic celebration, two female nudes, one with a laurel wreath, the other with a lyre.[6][7] The arena, the Maifeld field, and the Olympic stadium itself were designed to be used together for large events, and March also provided an indoor arena in the nearby Haus des deutschen Sports (House of German Sports) that has been regarded as a smaller equivalent of the Dietrich Eckart theatre.[8]

The theatre opened on 2 August 1936, the day after the opening of the games, with the première of Eberhard Wolfgang Möller's Frankenburger Würfelspiel.[9] 20,000 people were in attendance, and the Reich Labour Service supplied 1,200 extras.[10] It was also used for some events of the games, in particular boxing matches.[11] During the Olympics and later, dance and choral movement productions took place there, in addition to operas: during the Olympics and again in 1937 for the celebration of the 700th anniversary of the founding of Berlin, Handel's Hercules; also in 1937, Gluck's Orfeo;[8] and in 1939, a production of Wagner's Rienzi paid for and co-designed by Hitler in association with Benno von Arent.[12]


After World War II, the Olympic grounds were within the British occupation sector of Berlin. They were released for public use beginning in 1948,[11][13] and the amphitheatre was used for film showings, including for the Berlinale,[14] and beginning in 1960 for boxing matches. Use for concerts began in the 1960s,[13] but at a concert by the Rolling Stones on 15 September 1965, fans stormed the stage, and after the band left after a set of only 20 to 25 minutes fought police who attempted to control them with rubber truncheons and fire hoses and destroyed the seating, fire hydrants and other furnishings, causing 270,000 DM in damage in a riot that fulfilled the dire prophecies of some Berlin newspapers about rock concerts and was the first inter-generational battle of the 1960s in Germany.[15][16][17] A reporter from Bild wrote of the concert, "I know Hell."[18] The arena had to be completely renovated[13][19] and was then little used until 1978.[13][14][20]

Following a concert by Bob Marley in 1980, it became well known as a rock venue, and has been regularly used for that purpose since.[11][13] Other artists who have appeared there include Depeche Mode,[21] Metallica,[22] Queen,[23] U2, Eric Clapton,[14] Tina Turner,[24] Muse and Rod Stewart.[25] Barbra Streisand gave her first concert in Germany there in 2007.[26] It also hosts classical music concerts, including by the Berlin Philharmonic, an open-air film series,[13] and special events including an appearance by the Dalai Lama[27] and televised football matches.[28]

The facility seats more than 22,000,[29] in three ranks that rise 30 metres (98 ft);[13] the last row of seats, the 88th, is also 93.5 metres (307 ft) from the centre of the orchestra pit, so originally 40 microphones were installed on-stage, feeding 10 coordinated groups of loudspeakers.[3] In 1982, a canopy costing 200,000  was erected over the stage, providing both a visual and an acoustic barrier.[13] Concert promoter Peter Schwenkow leased it from 1981 until the end of 2008, when the lease was transferred to CTS Eventim.[13][30]


External links

  • Geoff Walden, Dietrich-Eckart-Bühne, Third Reich in Ruins: then and now photographs
  • Gunnar Schupelius, "The Secret Behind the Stage. Berlin's Enchanting Waldbühne Amphitheater", The Atlantic Times, May 2006.
  • Pascale Hugues, tr. Elisabeth Thielicke, Der Tagesspiegel, 26 August 2011 (German)

Coordinates: 52°30′57″N 13°13′44″E / 52.51583°N 13.22889°E / 52.51583; 13.22889

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