Wintergarten Variete

Friedrichstrasse 143-149,
Berlin 10117

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Architects: Bernhard Sehring

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Wintergarten Variete

Located in the Mitte district in the east of the city centre, close to the Friedrichstrasse Railway Station. The Wintergarten Variete was a music hall and part of the elegant & luxury Central Hotel which opened in 1880-1881. The architect was von der Hades & Hennicke. The Wintergarten was an indoor garden, with a dome shaped glass ceiling and contained a stage for artists & orchestra and with palms & exotic plants in it, which was ‘en voge’ at this time in Berlin. The dimensions of the Wintergarten were 75 metres in length, 23 metres wide and 18 metres high and contained 1,500-seats. The Wintergarten Variete was operated by actor Franz Dorm (his real name was Gruger) and Julius Baron. The Central Hotel wanted to entertain their hotel guests and the audience in Berlin at the Wintergarten Variete with live concerts & variety shows which were most spectacular and very famous for their magic atmosphere.

A demonstration of the Bioskop by the brothers Skladanowsky in the Pankow district of Berlin at the ballroom of the Feldsholesschen in July 1895 was witnessed by the directors of the Wintergarten Variete who contacted the brothers Skladanowsky for a sum of 2500. Goldmark to present their invention as a final act in the variety performance. The movies being “Boxing Kangaroo”, “Wrestler”, and “Serpentin Dance” were shot at the garden of the Feldschloesschen. The Feldschloesschen ballroom converted to the very first cinema in the world and was later renamed Tivoli (it has its own page on Cinema Treasures).

The show at the Wintergarten Variete was advertised as “the most interesting invention of the modern age”. In November 1895 a 4-week engagement of the brothers Skladanowsky took place at the Wintergarten Variete with their Bioscop projecting moving pictures as the highlight of the variety show. This was the second screening of projected movies in the world and in Berlin. Technically the screening was a rear projection. The Wintergarten orchestra played music by Johann Strauss and John Phillip Sousa. The audience was a little irritated when the lights went down for the projection. The Wintergarten programme by Max & Emil Skladanowsky had a running time of 15 minutes and included the following titles: “The Juggler”, “Comedy Reck”, “Acrobatic Potporri”, “Italian Farmers Dance”, “Serpentin Dance”, “Wrestlers”, “Kamarinskaya Russian National Dance” apothosis the inventorys of the Bioscop. Please note that the brothers Lumiere presented their invention, the Cinematograph de projection later in December 1895 in Paris. Max Skladanowsky travelled in December 1895 to Paris and witnessed the screening by the brothers Lumiere.

In 1896 Max & Emil Skladanowsky started a European tour with their Bioscop.

In 1900 the Wintergarten Variete was remodeled after the plans of Bernhard Sehring. To the ceiling was added thousands of little golden ‘stars’ and electic bulbs for a special atmosphere which the Wintergarten became famous for. In 1928 the Wintergarten was operated by Ludwig Schuck and was expanded to 3,000 seats. The Wintergarten was damaged in June 1944 by Allied bombs during World War II and the remains of the building were completely demolished in 1950.

A second Wintergarten was built in 1946 at the site Neue Welt(New World) at Hasenheide which combined a variety show and a features film. The second Wintergarten was closed as a cinema in 1955. After that the stage was used for live acts and concerts. The building is a listed monument and was later re-named Huxley’s Neue Welt. (It has its own page on Cinema Treasures).

A third Wintergarten das Variete was opened in 1992 at the old cinema BTL Biophone Theater Lichtspiele in the Tiergarten district at Potsdammer Strasse 96 which opened in 1914. (It has its own page on Cinema Treasures).

Contributed by Ken Roe, Kinospoter
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