0154.4 Exploratorium Lichtenberg ×

The exploratorium focuses on the industrial area around Herzbergstrasse, so called Alt-Lichtenberg which is the „center“ of the district of Lichtenberg. In-between Landsberger Allee and Josef-Orlopp-Straße, the 190 hectare big industrial zone is home to approx. 850 companies, providing work to more than 8000 people. It developed into an important commerical location in the 19th century, when factories settled in the wastelands north of the historic village center of Alt-Lichtenberg. The heterogenerous area dates back to the 13th century, but it was not until the industrialization, that the village grew and became a part of the city of Berlin. It is characterized by upgraded Gründerzeit buildings, large administrative complexes, commercial areas, hospital complexes and large green spaces. Read more

Among the first companies that settled in the area were Siemens & Halske, the Berlin margarine factory and the Norddeutsche Kugellagerfabrik GmbH. In order to access them the „Herzbergstraße“ was laid out, as well as industrial tracks that connected the factories. After the Second World War, these large-scale enterprises were expropriated and converted into nationally owned enterprises, so called „Volkseigene Betriebe“ (VEB), including the VEB Elektrokohle Lichtenberg, VEB Fortschritt Herrenbekleidung, VEB Wälzlagerfabrik “Josef Orlopp“ and the VEB Bärensiegel Berlin.

Since the German Reunification the area has changed considerably. From the 1990s on there have been no more large companies. Industrial and manufacturing companies have declined significantly, the sizes of the existing companies have decreased, although their number has increased.

VEB Elektrokohle Lichtenberg (EKL) was an enterprise for the production of graphite products in the former GDR. It was the only plant of its kind and at its peak employed over 3000 people.

After the end of the war, the Siemens-Plania AG was first administered in trust and became a Soviet joint- stock company. With the handover of the company to the GDR in 1954, it became a Volkseigener Betrieb (VEB), the VEB Elektrokohle Lichtenberg. They manufactured a wide range of products from carbon and graphite, with about one third of the production being exported, mostly to the USSR.

As early as 1872, Siemens & Halske founded the first production facility for the manufacture of alcohol measuring equipment on the site of the later EKL. Later the focus of production shifted to all kinds of coal products, which was of great relevance during the two World Wars, where Siemens & Co where an important armaments factory. In the last years before the end of the Second World War, forced-laborers and children were also deployed as workers. They lived in barracks in the area of today‘s Fennpfuhlpark.

In the years after the fall of the Berlin Wall, the production and operation of the VEB Elektrokohle Lichtenberg were phased out until 1997: 0154 San Gimignano Lichtenberg

(2) Pantrac GmbH continues the production of coal and graphite products in the remaining parts of the VEB buildings to this day.

(3) The history of the area now known as "Dong Xuan Center" began at the end of the 19th century with the establishment of Siemens & Co. The production of all kinds of coal products gained importance during the First and Second World War. After the end of the war, the company was held in trust before Siemens-Plania AG became the Volkseigene Betrieb (VEB) Elektrokohle Lichtenberg. In the years following the fall of the Berlin Wall, production and operations were phased out until 1997. With the reunification and closure of the VEB, many people became unemployed, including Nguyen Van Hien, a Vietnamese contract worker who came to East Germany in 1987. He had set up his own small market for Asian products in Herzbergstraße after reunification. In 2005, VAN HIEN founded the Dong Xuan Center, modeled on a market hall in Hanoi.

(4) Like many of the Volkseigene Betriebe, VEB Elektrokohle Lichtenberg also had its own in-house house of culture. Culture, as part of work and production, took place there in the form of training and events. The housing and living conditions of the company employees were also negotiated there. Only a few weeks after the fall of the Wall, the first concert of the West Berlin band Einstürzende Neubauten took place here in former East Berlin on 21.12.89 in the Wilhelm-Pieck-Saal. After years of decay, the remaining parts of the Kulturhaus building are being developed by the operators of the Dong Xuan Center into a "multicultural meeting center".

(5) The former Fahrbereitschaft of the Council of Ministers of the GDR (1971-1990) is developed and operated since 2013, as FAHRBEREITSCHAFT by the Haubrok Foundation in a mixture of small workshops, trades and artists' studios. Read less

2021 –
Tatjana Bergmeister, Franziska Gödicke, Olaf Grawert, Angelika Hinterbrandner, Gabor Kocsis, Lukas Meyer

Isometric Drawing of Herzberg Industrial Area © Olaf Grawert, Gabor Kocsis

(1) San Gimignano Lichtenberg © Tatjana Bergmeister

(1) former factory VEB Elektrokohle Lichtenberg

(2) Pantrac GmbH © Tatjana Bergmeister

(3) Dong Xuan Center © Tatjana Bergmeister

(4) former GDR cultural center / reconstruction as cultural center for the Dong Xuan Center © Tatjana Bergmeister

(5) Fahrbereitschaft © Tatjana Bergmeister

(6) empty housing blocks © Lukas Meyer

(7) former Margarine factory © Lukas Meyer

(8) abonded office building © Lukas Meyer

(9) GDR housing blocks

Hospital "Königin Elisabeth Herzberge" © Tatjana Bergmeister

Landschaftspark Herzberge © Tatjana Bergmeister