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The Wannsee is both a locality in the southwestern Berlinmarker borough of Steglitz-Zehlendorfmarker, Germanymarker, and a linked pair of lakes adjoining the locality. Both lakes, the larger Großer Wannsee (Greater Wannsee) and the Kleiner Wannsee (Little Wannsee), are located on the river Havelmarker and are separated only by the Wannsee bridge. The larger of the two lakes covers an area of 2.7km² and has a maximum depth of 9m.
Location of Wannsee within the Steglitz-Zehlendorf borough of Berlin

Wannsee lake is well-known as the number-one bathing and recreation spot for western Berlin, especially from a 1951 Schlager hit by teen idol Cornelia Froboess. The Strandbad Wannsee, an open-air lido with one of the longest inland beaches in Europe and a popular nudist area, was built in 1920-1930 after a concept by architect Richard Ermisch. Situated on the eastern shore of the lake it is officially part of the Nikolassee locality.

At the western rim of the Wannsee locality the Glienicke Bridgemarker connects it with the City of Potsdammarker. The late neoclassical Glienicke Palacemarker as well as the Pfaueninselmarker are nearby. Since 1990 these palaces and parks are part of the Palaces and Parks of Potsdam and Berlin UNESCO World Heritage Site.

The locality also includes the neighborhoods of Kohlhasenbrück, named after the 1811 novella Michael Kohlhaas by Heinrich von Kleist, and Steinstückenmarker, which in the Cold War days became famous as a tiny exclave of West Berlin within the GDRmarker.

Historical notes

On 21 November 1811, Heinrich von Kleist shot himself on the shore of the Kleiner Wannsee and – at her bidding – his lover, Henriette Vogel. A memorial marks the site.

The Verein Seglerhaus am Wannseemarker, the second oldest yacht club in Germany, was established in October 1867 on a small wooden shack by river Havelmarker. In 1877 it moved to its present location at the edge of the lake.

In 1909 Max Liebermann, head of the Berlin Secession, had a villa built at the western shore of the Wannsee. His widow was forced to sell it to the Deutsche Reichspost in 1940.

In 1928 a large shooting range was established in the Düppelmarker woods near the Berlin city limits. It was the site of the shooting events of the 1936 Summer Olympics. After World War II it was used by the US army as the "Rose Range" firing compound.

On 20 January 1942, senior Nazi officials met at the Wannsee Villamarker (built 1914-1915) to plan the Final Solution to the "Jewish Question" – the extermination of the Jews of Europe. This event, presided over by Reinhard Heydrich and conducted by Adolf Eichmann, has since become known as the Wannsee Conferencemarker. Today, the building serves as a memorial and education centre.


Wannsee is served by the Berlin S-Bahn lines S1 - as terminus - and S7 at the Berlin-Wannsee railway stationmarker. It is also a stop of some long-distance trains as well as of RegionalExpress and RegionalBahn trains of the Deutsche Bahn AG and the Veolia Transportation company.

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