Large limestone blocks were found by farmers in Rüdersdorf in the early 13th century when they were plowing their land. This is where they found them. There were still a lot of things that were made of wood at that time. Limestone from Rüdersdorf became popular, and demand for it started to rise.
Around the second half of the 16th century, Rüdersdorf started making a lot of quicklime in kilns in order to make a lot of it quickly. It took a lot of quicklime to expand the Berlin Palace and build houses and military barracks in the early 1700s, so a lot of it had to be shipped in from all over the country.
The demand for quicklime kept growing, which caused a lot of trees to be cut down in the area where the kilns were built. Each kiln needed about 75 cubic meters (2,649 cubic feet) of wood. When King Frederick II asked for less wood to be used, this led to the modernization of the kilns and the development of the Berliner Kachelofen tile oven, which is still in use today.
After the tile oven, someone came up with another idea: an oven that kept going all the time. The kiln was made of peat and, later, coal. Count Rumford built this new kiln, which was used in Rüdersdorf from 1800 to 1802. This allowed the production of quicklime to reach 28,000 tons by 1871.
As a result, the quicklime from Rüdersdorf was in high demand again, which led to the opening of a cement plant in 1899. The same one that stands empty today. Because the land had been mined before, it was not good for anything else to happen there.
The factory was called “Rüdersdorf Portland Zementwerk.” It was owned by CO Wegener, a company that also made bricks and mined minerals, and the company also owned a brick factory. When the Preußag mining and metals company bought the cement plant in Rüdersdorf in 1939, the kilns were still in use.
This was the city that was built in 1923. It had a lot of different kinds of factories, mines, smelters, and salt mines. However, in 1933, the company was taken over by the Nazis, who ordered the building of bomb shelters, fortresses, and other military installations to help the company run better.
Under the Nazis, the plant kept making cement until 1944, when it was changed to make chemicals. In particular, bauxite was made, which is an important part of the aluminum production process. In order for the Nazis to do military things, they needed a lot of aluminum.
It was during the Second World War that more than 2,000 prisoners of war worked at the plant. They were sent to live in a concentration camp near the plant. A new concentration camp was built inside a factory in May 1945, after the Soviets took over. The existing prisoners were released while the new camp was built on the factory grounds.
All of the doors, windows, and gutters were taken apart by the prisoners. There were no kilns left at the end of the war, so they were sent to the Soviet Union as war reparations instead. Between 1940 and 1942, most of the factory buildings that can still be seen today were built.
VEB Glühphosphatwerk Rüdersdorf was a new company that was set up by the Soviets in 1950, and it was in charge of the new use of the plant. This new company made magnesium phosphate. By 1959, the factory was making more than 21,000 tons of it.
In 1962, the East German government took over the plant. In order to make different types of phosphates for use in agricultural fertilizers and animal feed, two bigger kilns were added to the plant.
VEB Chemiewerk Rüsdorf changed its name to VEB Chemiewerk Coswig during this time. In 1979, VEB Kombinat Agrochemie changed its name again. As a result of its new equipment, the plant began to make high-quality feed phosphate that was sold under the Rükana brand name. At its peak, around 180,000 tons were made.
Because business wasn’t good, the factory was slowly pushed down into the ground. It didn’t make anything at all by 1999.
Abandoned Chemical plant in Rüdersdorf
After the plant closed, it was found that the land and groundwater had been contaminated by the chemicals that were used there. Some of them were nitric acid, sulfuric acid, and hydrochloric acid.
Even worse, it turned out that about 80 barrels of oil, each holding about 100 liters (26 gallons), had been illegally stored at the plant. The barrels had leaked, and the oil had spread.
Today, more and more people are coming to see this abandoned factory because it looks so cool. A perimeter fence with barbed wire is the only thing that keeps people from getting in. There are no guards to keep people from getting in. Natural things have now taken over where humans were not allowed. Birds, frogs, and snakes now live in the parts of the plant that aren’t as toxic.
There are so many film crews that come to the Chemiewerk Rüsdorf, as it is called today, because it looks so good. Several movies and TV shows, including Enemy at the Gates, the Monuments Men, and The Hunger Games, were shot in this area. Also, scenes from the show Homeland were shot here. Rammstein, a band from Germany, also decided to make some music videos here.
Visitors must be very careful when they go exploring because the plant is so big, spread out, and in such bad shape that they need to be very careful. Another thing: Sometimes, the police check out the area.
These pictures of the abandoned German plant were taken by Thomas Wilhelm and he let us show them to you.
Thomas is a big fan of photography and abandoned places. On his website, called Lost Place Photography, he posts a lot of beautiful photos and stories. Check it out for more places that have been left behind.
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