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I witnessed fire emergency in German Sauna, Stadtbad Neukölln in Berlin

Written by Chaewon Yoo

Here's all my memory from what happened in the German sauna, Stadtbad Neukölln today:

It was about 19:25 p.m. After enjoying swimming for an hour and the German sauna for 2 hours and half, I went down stairs to woman’s changing room. I was putting on my turtle neck and pants when a lady with a swimming suit came near me. She was wrapping her long hair with a big towel.

She said, “I was told to get out of the pool immediately. Have you?”

And the German lady with a curly hair on my left said, “no, what happened?”
“I don’t know. Maybe it’s a emergency training.”

We laughed. Then I remembered that I forgot to bring the towel from the sauna. So I went up to the sauna. Everyone from the sauna were busily coming down the stairs, guided by the swimming pool security guards.


The man with a swimming pool security guard uniform, red T-Shirt and blue shorts, and a fire equipment on his back shouted out loud.
“Sorry I need to take the towel “ I said
“Lady, it’s emergency!”
“Ok, just give me a second.”
I picked up the towel from the entrance of the thermal sauna. I still thought it was an emergency training.
Yes, yes. I evacuated and went down the stairs. The angry security guard was in front of me and when I tried to get in the woman’s changing room, he blocked me and said.
“Please evacuate!”
I was bare feet and all my jacket, and more importantly, my phone was in the locker.
“Can I just pick up my jacket?”
He said.

Article about Stadtbad Neukölln attached in the main hall

So, thinking that it’s a training, and it will be over soon, I went out of the changing room bare feet. I saw the main hall filled with people half naked or totally naked. They were either swimming or were enjoying the sauna. They were either wearing bathing suit or just quickly wrapped with their towel. It wasn't so surprising, because in German sauna, everyone are supposed to be naked. But of course, in the open air, and in a public hall like this, they were busily putting on their clothes. I saw one man putting on his trunk immediately. Out of the window, I saw one woman putting on her bra briskly in the lobby. There were still few people coming out of the sauna hugging their clothes and bags. I thought I need to get my things too, otherwise I will regret it. I recognized the lady and guy with uniform who did the sauna ceremony session today. They were easy to recognize, because they wrap their lower body with checked thin towel.
“Can I please, just pick up my bag and clothes?” I asked the tattooed lady.
The lady said, “ok, aber schnell (quick)”
I nodded, and ran to my locker and I picked up my clothes, shoes and my bag. I squeezed in my belongings into the bag. I didn’t forget the one euro from the locker, I put it into my pocket firmly. I thanked the lady for her patience.

With all my bags and clothes, I came out to the hall. I joined the crowd to get dressed, and I put on my jacket. I saw a lady who wrapped her very long hair in a towel, which looked more like a turban, and she wore her thick padded jacket on top of it. I think if she goes into the Ubahn, everybody can guess what happened to her in German sauna. Most people were puzzled in their face but half thinking what a funny and interesting situation this is. A lady was talking to the man with uniform to ask what’s happening. Nobody was really angry or lost their temple. We were all just curious what’s happening.

I also thought this is really something that would come out in a movie or drama. I remembered a joke in my child hood, how funny would it be if there’s fire broke out and everyone has to evacuate. Wow this is really the situation.

I waited in a row to turn back the entering bracelet to the counter. When I came out of the main door, I saw firefighter truck and police cars. That was when I really noticed this is real situation and there really was fire in the sauna. One policeman put a very serious expression on his face. Soon came another and another police car with a very loud alarming sound. I stayed to observe what will happen. Soon more police cars arrived and I saw 14 firefighters were standby, and their chief was giving orders to them.

I walked to the nearest U7 Bahn station. On the way I saw more firefighter trucks arriving.

Written by Chaewon Yoo (

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