Author Archives: J. O'Hannes

New Year 15/16 in Russia

On Christmas 2015 I could finally return to my friends in Mother Russia. I took a flight in the evening of 26th of December and returned 20 days later, having had a nice, but cold time with banya (Russian sauna), hitch-hiking at -20°C, nearly falling into Volga, walks at 2am on forest streets and stuff:

Part 1 – Yegoryevsk
Part 2 – Hitchhiking to Nizhny Novgorod
Part 3 – Shchyolkovo, Moscow
Part 4 – Yegoryevsk

Lost Places – VEB Fotochemie

After a one year absence (One year in Tehran) I’m currently living in Berlin again. Before I left, I planned to visit the VEB Fotochemie aka Glanzfilm AG aka Kodak AG and Kabelwerke Köpenick aka VEB IKA. Initially I didn’t want to go alone, but finally I was too impatient.
Like other industrial ruins, I passed it hundreds of times in my youth.
Initially (since 1907 according to wikipedia) the area was occupied by Glanzfilm AG. After some 20 years business didn’t go well, so the American Kodak Corp. bought Glanzfilm. The factory was renamed Kodak AG, Werk Köpenick and was the second producing photo-chemical products aside German AGFA.
Due to WW II the factories were confiscated as “enemy property” and after WWII, in the German Democratic Republic, production of radiographic film, black-white film, photobase paper and chemicals continued, but the factory was renamed to VEB Fotochemische Werke Köpenick.
Finally after Germany’s reunification the factory was returned to Kodak. But due to digital photography, the products were not needed anymore. Until 2010 X-ray-Retina was produced and then the factory was shut down.
Some of the buildings are used as apartments now. However most of the equipment is still in a rather good shape.

Lost Places – VEB Bärensiegel Adlershof

To the photos

How many times did I pass this building in my life? Honestly it may be more than a thousand times. It’s right next to the main street towards the airport, the Autobahn, a friend of mine, my university and an industrial area. In December 2013 there were some buildings in front, but they’ve already been removed.
The complex of two buildings was built in 1904 and the C.A.F Kahlbaum Spritfabrik GmbH (Carl August Friedrich Kahlbaum Spirit [alcohol] Ltd). Since 1920 the factory was leased to the state. In the First World War the German state had a monopole on producing spirit, because the earnings were needed for the war. After 1945 spirituous beverages were produced at this location by VEB Spiritus Adlershof (Berlin Beverage industry). Till 1960 the alcohol of distilleries in the vicinity was delivered by train, but was changed to trucks afterwards. The factory was very productive. It exported its best spirit (Primasprit for food and pharmaceutical industry) to West Germany.


Mit dem Fahrrad 712km quer durch Deutschland

Quer durch Deutschland – Mit dem Fahrrad 712 km von Karlsruhe nach Berlin in 4 Tagen

KA-Bln FahrradAnfang Mai hatte ich beschlossen, mal nicht trampend oder mit der Bahn nach Berlin zu fahren, sondern mit dem Fahrrad. Ich musste eh noch das Traum der Radtour von 2012, die von Klaipeda in Litauen nach Tallinn führen sollte, ich aber nach 80 km aufgegeben musste bewältigen. Generell pflege ich eher eine Hassliebe zu meinem Fahrrad. Es ist mein am meisten genutzte Verkehrsmittel, aber ich habe immer das Gefühl, es muss öfters repariert werden als bei anderen.
Jedenfalls schusterte ich mir bis Ende Mai ein meiner Meinung nach tourenfähiges Fahrrad zusammen, bestellte noch einen Fahrradcomputer und eine Lenkertasche. Diese ließ ich allerdings an meine erste Station schicken, da der Versand mit Hermes erfolgte und ich kein Risiko eingehen wollte, dass die Tasche nach meiner Abfahrt erst in Karlsruhe ankommt (sie wurde eine Woche eher abgeschickt).

Tag 1, 2.6., Karlsruhe -> Tauberbischofsheim
169,25 km – 9:20h Fahrzeit – unterwegs von 7Uhr-18Uhr

Um fünf in der Früh stand ich auf, um dann pünktlich um sieben aus Karlsruhe loszufahren. Der Verkehr war ruhig, ich fuhr an meiner Tramperstelle vorbei und verfuhr mich aber recht schnell. Ich hatte mir einen Zettel mit den Stationen ausgedruckt und musste ihn mangels Lenkertasche auf der Querstange festkleben. Es ging. Von Zeit zu Zeit musste ich aber anhalten und einen Blick in den Atlas werfen.

Lost Places – Russia I – Moscow and vicinity

These photos were made in 2012, when I visited Moscow and a town south of it as part of a tour around the Baltic Sea.
There are three places worth to mention. It was hard research work to localize all these places. To get there was quite easy.
1. Abandoned planes
2. Satellite dish/ Radio telescope
3. Mining cars south of Moscow
4. Russian Space Shuttel Buran

1. Abandoned airplanes
On the area of a former airport in the North-west of Moscow there are some old planes and helicopters from the Soviet era.
Around the airport there were many buildings and construction of a shopping centre. The runway was used by driving schools and bikers. If the plane and helicopter cemetery is still there or whether it’s been removed – I cannot tell especially because the look of the outskirts of Russia’s capital is changing fast.


Lost Places – Spreepark Berlin – cooler than Chernobyl?

The Spreepark was once the only amusement park in Berlin, opened all year.
Built in the GDR (DDR) in 1969 around 1.7 millions people per year visited Spreepark from 1969 till 1989. At that time it was officially named VEB Kulturpark Plänterwald (Cultural park Plänterwald) and Kulti by the people. The 45m high Ferris wheel was the main attraction. A TV Show named Spuk unter’m Riesenrad (Spook under the Ferris wheel) made Kulti more popular.


Lost Places – VEB Chemiewerk Coswig, Rüdersdorf

To the photos

The chemical factory in Rüdersdorf, nearby Berlin, was part of the VEB Chemiewerk Coswig (chemical factory Coswig). The VEB was integrated in the VEB Kombinat Agrochemie Piesteritz (Agrochemical Holding Piesteritz) and produced the feed phosphate Rükana. It was obtained by de-fluorining a mix of raw phosphate, phosphoric acid and soda.

Rüdersdorf has rich soda sources and even today the Rüdersdorfer Zement GmbH diggs and extracts soda processing it to cement.

The mining history in Rüdersdorf leads back more than 750 years.

Today the area of the VEB Chemiewerk Coswig lies abandoned at the end of a street just over a bridge. In summer 2013 it served as scenery for the movie Monument’s Men (with George Clooney, Kate Blanchett and Matt Damon).

There are still some wooden signs indicating the presence of a film crew around the area, which is in general a bit creepy. Especially the basement, where the sounds of the outside world sound quite scary. But it’s nice to record some “Zombie” videos.

Still it is really cool to climb around and onto of the silo high towers (not the really high ones, god forbid). Though they led to great pictures.

Click here to view all photos of VEB Chemiewerk Coswig, Rüdersdorf