Tag Archives: indutrial

Lost Places – VEB Kühlautomat Berlin

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At the beginning of 1950 the VEB Kühlautomat Berlin (a cooling factory) was founded in Berlin-Johannisthal. First only industrial refrigerator were built and repaired.
Later on all different types of cooling devices were produced (e.g. for grocery stores).
In the mid 1950s the conservation of food concentrated on the one of fish. That’s why the production of refrigerating plants for ships started. Meanwhile 1000 people were employed at the VEB Kühlautomat.

In 1968 the VEB Kühlautomat Berlin (KAB) and the VEB Motorenwerk Johannisthal (engine factory) merged. The result were excellent fabrication conditions for the VEB KAB, that made the fabrication of screw compressors (dt.: Schraubenverdichter) possible.

In the 1970s research and development concerning new technical concepts were undertaken to avoid high licence fees.
That’s why the screw compressor advanced over a couple of years.

In the 1990s, the now called Kühlautomat Berlin GmbH a new sort of screw compressors was developed. It was designed for industrial cooling devices and AC as well as CFC-free (dt.: FCKW-frei) cooling fluids and ammonia.

Unlike other former VEB, the KAB GmbH did well in the first years in the capitalism after the socialism.
Though in 1994 the well-known GEA AG bought KAB GmbH and merged it with its subsidiary company to GRASSKO*KAB.

During that time the GRASSKO*KAB was split into five GmbHs, which started to become autonomous in 1996.
At the end of 1996 the last companies became independent and moved from Berlin-Johannisthal to Berlin-Reinickendorf, the headquater of GEA.


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Lost Places – Bärenquell Brewery

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The complex has been built after 1882 on behalf of the Brewery Borussia. In 1898 it was bought by the Schultheiss Brewery AG and the complex has been extended for the first time.

The Brewery produced beer and lemonade for Berlin and the surrounding area.

After the 2nd World War the name was changed several times and the breweries of Berlin were merged to VEB Berliner Brauereien (VEB Berlin Breweries). The brewery in Niederschöneweide was named Bärenquell-Brewery.

In 1991 the Henninger Bräu AG bought Bärenquell and continued the production at this area. Two years later Henninger Bräu wanted to wreck some buildings, which was denied due to monument conservation.

That’s why the 1st April 1994 the beer production was shut down, only the distribution was continued for a couple of years.

I explored that site with some friends of mine. I don’t know how many times I passed it in my life. It has been – without lying – thousands. Everytime I took the S-Bahn or drove by car into the city, I saw it from out of the window. But just as with the other abandoned buildings, I just accepted its presence and never had deep thoughts about its history or to explore the complex.

Walking around, we met “many” other people checking the buildings out. At the end we went up on the highest tower and watched the sunset over Berlin. We had a great view up there and I guess spending New Year’s Eve with some drinks, music and warm clothes can really be cool.
When it was already dark, we saw one room at the other side of the site illuminated. Though we didn’t want to go back, cause I seemed someone was living there.


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Lost Places – Railway Maintance area

I cannot tell any story. I guess the Deutsche Bahn just didn’t have any purpose for this area any more.


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Lost Places – Chemical Cleaning W. Spindler / VEB Rewatex

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As my second lost place I chose the laundry and dye factory of Wilhelm Spindler, which I used to pass by often with my grand-parents.

Wilhelm Spindler founded the company W. Spindler in 1832, which was soon be led by his son Carl. The family was patron of this part of Berlin, called Spindlersfeld.
However in 1873 it had been headquartered to its current place. At that time it was the biggest chemical cleaning factory in Germany.

The company financed the S-Bahn railway from Berlin-Schöneweide via Oberspree to the final destination Spindlersfeld. This part was opened in 1892.

In 1922 the company was transformed into an incorporate corporation and taken over by Schering AG.

After WWII Schering was dispossessed and the VEB Blütenweiß (VEB blossom white). In 1961 after some merges it was named VEB Rewatex (from the German reinigt und scht Textilien – cleans and washes textiles).

Since 1989 apart from “normal” employees, 600 female prisoners and foreign employees from Vietnam worked in the VEB.

After the reunion Rewatex was converted into an incorporate company REWATEX AG and was taken over by Larosé-Hygiene-Service-GmbH in 1992.

Only until the mid 1990s there were operations on the area Spindlersfeld.

The windows were partially sealed with plastic. Due to the wind it always made strange sounds, letting me believe there are people every. At first it was a bit scary and weird.


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Lost Places – Tuchfabrik Anton & Alfred Lehmann / VEB Berliner Metallhütten- und Halbzeugwerke

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My first urban exploration let me to a former scarf and plush factory.

Founded in 1880 by Alfred and Anton Lehmann as A&A Lehmann – Fabrik von Mohair und Seidenplüschen, Nouveautes, Shawes und Wollenstoffen. Fabrik mit Spinnerei, mechan. Webstühlen, Färberei, Druckerei, Appretur in Schöneweide bei Berlin.

They had success with their company and in 1888 the son of Anton, Richard Lehmann, started working as department chief. After his father’s death, Richard started managing the company and got involved in local politics and public departments like being patron of the Kaiser-Wilhelm-Gesellschaft (today Institute of Max Planck).

The world economic crises in the 1920s also effected the textile industry of Berlin. Buildings were rented to other companies.

After the Nazis gained political power and because the Lehmann family were jews, although it didn’t play a big role in their life, they escaped to England in 1939.
All family members but Richard and his wife, migrated.

Later on, when the Nazis established anti-jew laws, the Lehmann property was claimed property of the Reich. In December 1942, Richard and his wife were picked up by Gestapo and were deported to Concentration Camp Theresienstadt.

After the war, the VEB (Volkeigener Betrieb, public company) Metallhütten- und Halbzeugwerke (factory of steel work and wrought material) was founded 1st Jan 1951.

The VEB employed around 2300 people in 3 shifts and the products ranged from copper wire, pure aluminium and red brass mountings.

The damage of the environment due to emissions and impurified cooling water was really high.

In the 1950s the cultural centre “Ernst Schneller” and a kindergarten for the employees’ children had been built.

After the reunion of Germany, the production was giving up and the cultural centre was used as a discotheque “CISCH” for some more years.

I was told by different men I met on the area, that the NVA (the army of East Germany) ran a print shop and that there would be a huge tunnel system under the area.
Concerning the tunnel system I can say that it seems to be flooded...


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