Most people living in Berlin will be familiar with the name Eberswalde – mainly because of the U2 U-Bahn Station Eberswalderstraße (and the fact that Konopkes Currywurst and the Mauerpark are located there). Eberswalde is more than just an U-Bahn Station in Berlin though.
The Town of Eberswalde was founded in 1254, roughly 50 kilometres to the north of Berlin (making it 17 years younger than Berlin). Ever since its founding, Eberswalde was a center for Trade and once the industrial revolution swept over Germany in the 19th Century, Eberswalde transformed itself into an Industrial Hub with an emphasis on Ironworks. On a side note, Eberswalde is also famous for having established the first phone connection in Germany on 23. November 1877 (between Eberswalde and Finowfurt) and for being the testing grounds of the Lorenz AG – world pioneers in the field of Radio Communication.
Now I could go on for a while about Eberswalde but that’s not really the point of this Article.
This time I was accompanied again by AndBerlin (his Wolfswinkel Post can be found here – and im sure he’s got another one dedicated just to the Graffiti we spotted in there) and by the notorious AbandonedBerlin. We didnt venture out to Eberswalde to see derelict Ironworks (that was just an added bonus to the trip) or revel in the Tristesse of a Brandenburg Town, we came to explore the Abandoned Papiermühle Wolfswinkel (Papiermühle = Papermill).
*Warning – Historical Info about the Papiermühle Wolfswinkel*
One of the many reasons Industrial Factories flurished in Eberswalde was due to the fact that the Finow Canal (one of the oldest canals in europe) flowed right through the city. Clean water was (and still is) one of the most important ingredients for producing paper – and seeing as Berlin was one of the dirtiest cities in europe and had completely polluted the spree in the 18th century, the paper mills had all settled outside of Berlin.
The Heegermühler Papiermühle was built in 1728 – but it didn’t stand long. Europeans really hate each other and seem to use every little chance to go to war with each other. During the 7 Years War (1756 – 1763), the russians decided to burn it to the ground (in 1760). This didnt really seem to impress the paper mill owners so they rebuilt it 5 years later under a new name “Papiermühle Wolfswinkel“.
The owners of the Papiermühle Wolfswinkel knew that the key to success was to invest in new skills and technology. They were one of the first paper mills to introduce the “Holländer” – The Hollander Beater, “a machine developed by the Dutch in 1680 to produce paper pulp from cellulose containing plant fibers. It replaced stamp mills for preparing pulp because the Hollander could produce in one day the same quantity of pulp it would take a stamp mill eight days to prepare.“[Source: Wikipedia].
In the year 1834, the Paper mill installed one of the first Papermachines – marking a shift from Paper mill to Paperfactory. The factory was expanded in 1928 – when a massive factory hall was constructed with reinforced concrete (sounds a lot more impressive in german – Stahlbeton – Steele Concrete). At this point, they decided to install the most modern papermachine in the world to increase production. The Factory continued to operate until the end of the second World War, and then faced the fate of all large Industrial Sites in Germany: Either to be dismantled and shipped off to Russia or to be turned into a Volkseigene Betrieb, a people owned enterprise (because you know, single ownership and capitalism is shit). “Luckily” the factory didnt seem to fit into the “reparation” plans for the russians so it got turned into a VEB.
As mentioned in the beginning, several paper mills and factories had settled around Berlin, and one of these was the Papiermühle Spechthausen – which dated back to the year 1751. The Papiermühle Spechthausen specialized in Handmade Büttelpapier – Deckle Edge Paper, a rather difficult and labour intensive paper. In 1956, the Spechthausen Paper mill was forced to close down and the Büttelpapier making process was moved over to the Papiermühle Wolfswinkel. In 1957, the production of handmade Büttlepapier with the Traditional Spechthausen Watermark (A Woodpecker on a Tree with the Inscription Spechthausen 1781) continued again and proved to be a very valuable export product (as it was the only factory which produced high quality handmade büttlepaper).
As with almost every Industrial site in East Germany everything went to shit really quickly. After the German Reunification, the Factory was privatized in 1992 – and went Bankrupt in 1994. The mind boggles how a factory which had managed to operate for 266 years, surviving wars, and both fascism and socialism – somehow died within 4 years of entering a free market.
The department which was in charge of producing the Büttenpapier opend up at Private Papermuseum in the early 90s to keep the process and history alive. It was pouring down rain when visited and after spending 4 hours exploring the Paper mill we weren’t really in the mood to check it out(turns out it would have been closed anyway). Sadly they don’t have a website but it seems like you have to call them to gain access to the museum.
For more Pictures of the Papiermühle, check out the Flickr Album: Papiermühle Wolfswinkel