Kraftwerk Vockerode

Kraftwerksdenkmal Vockerode

I recently had the opportunity to visit Kraftwerk Vockerode, which is now known as Kraftwerksdenkmal Vockerode, and certainly worth a visit if you can swing it.  My guide for the visit, a former East German crane operator who worked at the Kraftwerk until the day it was shut down in 1994, was a wealth of great information and a downright wonderful person.  She gave me a bunch of brochures and asked that I recommend the tour to other, as she is only to happy to share with others her memories of this impressive facility, and of the people who lived and worked there.  If you are interested in calling to make a booking for a tour, you can reach Kraftwerksdenkmal Vockerode at Tel. +49 34 905 52-473 (or 52-317).  Tours run Monday through Thursday at 10:00 am, 12:00 pm and 2:00 pm, and Fridays at 10:00 am.

Foozballus Giganticus

It took the Germans only one and a half years to build Kraftwerk Vockerode, which was brought on line in December 1938.   And, it was built to last, suffering only minor damage during World War II.  In 1945, immediately following the war, the Russians dismantled and removed most of the major equipment to the the Soviet Union as war reparations.  It was not until 1953 that the German Democratic Republic (DDR) began to rebuild, completing the reconstruction in 1959.  The powerplant then consisted of 12 boilers, and 12 turbines, and put out 384 megawatts of power.

Zeroed Out

Kraftwerk Vockerode was the life’s blood of the town of the same name, and fed power to untold thousands for kilometers away.  That all changed when the wall between the East and the West came down.  According to my guide, reunited Germany had to make some tough decisions related to the reintegration of its people into the unified nation.  Kraftwerk Vockerode, whose operations produced significant negative impact on the environment was on the chopping block.  It was, therefore, closed down in 1994.

Light & Dark

Asked what happened to all the employees of the plant when it was shut down, my guide explained that some moved on to other jobs, while other (like herself) were put on Hartz IV unemployment.  My guide explained that it was for this reason (that the German State provided for her well-being), that she was felt honored to be able to lead tours of the facility, AT NO CHARGE!  She spent three hours showing me the ins and outs of this wonderful site, and expected nothing in return.  I did promise to bring her prints of the photographs I had made the next time I was there, so I hope to visit again soon to make good on that promise!

The Master Control Room

Erika! Take a memo!

End of the Dream State

The way we were!

Last one out...

It’s all under control!

One of the great things about living here in Berlin, Germany, is that you have a LOT of great sites nearby (mostly in what was once East Germany) just crying out to be explored.  I am only happy to oblige. One site I visited recently, in Vockerode, Germany, is about an hour’s drive from my home, and it’s an UrbExer’s dream come true.  As one of very few protected “heritage” facilities, Kraftwerk Vockerode is a superb location for HDR photography (heck, any kind of photography, actually).  Unlike many abandoned buildings, Kraftwerk Vockerode is completely unmarked my graffiti, and has suffered none of the vandalism that has plagued the legendary abandoned sanatorium at Beelitz-Heilstätten, Germany.

I have already posted several shots from this location on in my Flickr Photostream in the Kraftwerk Vockerode set, if you’d like to take a look see, and I do have a few more sets of brackets to process from that same shoot, some of which will show up in this blog.

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