E-Fabrik → History

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History of the old yeast factory (today Energiefabrik zu Görlitz)

Beginning and turn out to distillery of Görlitz
Because of the position at the western extension of Via Regia in the late medieval town of Görlitz, the terrain was used for agricultural and commercial belongings from ancient times. At the end of the 18th century at the lower areas of the site were dug clay pits to produce bricks, which the fast growing town urgently needed. In the middle of the 19th century, when an economic height approached its peak the owner of the city garden and the inn Zur Stadt Leipzig Augustin Schmidt engaged the brick mason Höpert to plan and build a steam-based malt-distillery, north of it a special oven for producing bricks and a drying barn in 1858. Already in 1862 the estate with all the buildings was sold to the gentlemen Koch and Hagspihl from Dresden. One year later Guido Oswald Hagspihl bought Koch's share of the site for 40,000 Reichsmarks and became single owner of Görlitzer Getreidebrennereien, Presshefe-, Sprit- und Malzfabriken. Additionally he added Hagspihl & Co to the company name.

Guido Hagspihl – not a normal industrialist
Guido Hagspihl, who was born on 1 January in 1836 in Bischofswerda and his family were counted among the pioneers of industrial history of Görlitz. His trading skills, his own developments, his sense of the spirit of the age and technical innovations made the factory to be a prosperous company. Revolutionary was not only the invention of the filter machine for pressed yeast by Hagspihl, but many technical and social developments which were ahead of the times.
Thanks to his success Hagspihl was able to have a second mansion built on Goethestraße 5 which was more prestigious and much bigger than his first one. It’s still one of the more notably buildings of the town and was used as a school for inland trade and school for welfare through the GDR era of eastern Germany. The community of heirs was still not interested in restoration, so the mansion is for sale since 1990. In Hagspihls times the other mansion on the factory ground in Bautzener Straße 32 was used more and more as an office and administration building with one official residence.
One interesting aspect of continuous constructing in the “industrial park” was the mounting of a bowling alley in 1880, which was planned together with a park with rare woods e. g. a gingko, three expensive fountain ensembles and an orangery for recreational activities of the workers and employees. Hagspihl worked together with famous landscape architects. Additionally he provided residences with own garden plots for the employees which were established more and more at this time. This shows his strong engagement in social matters.
Beside concerning for the employees’ well-being he acted in local politics, belonged to the elders of the town and was well-known as a cultural sponsor and patron. So he also supported the construction of the Oberlausitz’sche Gedenkhalle (also Ruhmeshalle, but today Dom Kultury) which is located in the polish part of the town, today’s Zgorzelec. In the year 1907 he retired more and more from the factory’s processes and gave businesses up to his two sons.

The factory under family Hölzer
After the city council, factory and manor owner Guido Hagspihl died in 1915 his sons finally assumed the business and sold the whole factory for 600,000 Reichsmarks to the family Hölzer, which also owned the UNION Leipziger Presshefefabriken und Brennerei AG in Leipzig-Mockau.
The factory in Görlitz was transformed into a stock corporation under participation of Henkel & Cie. AG and continued to do business under the name of Görlitzer Getreidebrennerei Hagspihl & Co.

Development after World War II
After WW II in 1945 the factory was under administration of a trustee, until the owners were expropriated in 1955. From there until 1970 the company was restructured to a nationally owned and incorporated into the VEB Bramsch – Dresden. From now on the production of alcohol got less important. The so called VEB Backhefe had to produce yeast for the food industry, which was a decomposition product of alcohol production. So the factory became one of five in the GDR which fabricated yeast for the countries of Eastern Bloc. The company turned out 4,400 to 4,700 tons of yeast and 17,600 to 19,000 hl of pure alcohol. Because of the frequency of official holidays and festivities in the GDR, there was often an absence of spirits, so the government always provided newest technical equipment for the offices and the necessary resources for production. In the middle of the 70’s the company was called VEB Bramsch, Betriebsteil Backhefe Görlitz, Narungsmittelkombinat Magdeburg and got the honorary title Betrieb der ausgezeichneten Qualitätsarbeit (Company of excellent high-quality work). A lot of certificates from the past still show today, that the quality of yeast production was superior.

Occurences after the German reunion
The trust company of Berlin sold the VEB Backhefe to the distillery owner Bernhard Icking in 1991. Because of economic reasons and the fact that some of the machines had been sold or disappeared before the takeover, the production of pressed yeast had been stopped. The Görlitzer Kornbrennerei und Spiritusfabrik B. Icking KG produced raw spirit until 2001, after they skillfully converted the factory, improved the technical standards and gradually renewed the facilities. They also built a branch in Reichenbach, which included a potato distillery. The change of the federal law about monopoly in 1998 with legal validity in 2001 affected a deep cut to the production site, which lost its financial basis through that.
At the same time Birgit Beltle got to know the family Icking, because she was looking for a producer of her Görlitzer Geister (Geist = ghost, spirit). From there on, the skilled cabinet maker got energetically supported by the Ickings and got some suitable premises. Since then, the deep love for the industrial memorial, its history and the quest of developing new technologies connects them with each other. With that love as a basis they started to plan first events in the factory and in the area, e. g. a jazz concert with six bands inside the factory, which was part of a bigger festival in town, a big party for students and a historical festival.
When 2003 the production finally stopped and people had to concern about the planned demolition of buildings of Wihelminian style, like-minded people of several special fields united with the distillery owner to develop conceptions, protect the industrial memorials and to expose the town’s potentials. So the Ideenfluß e. V. was founded in Hagspihl’s mansion on 11 July 2003.
Through the following years the family Icking supported the work of the association, as the Ideenfluß e. V. took care of the mansion and the area within the limits of their financial possibilities in the same way. Through actions of international youth work, youth profession help and for re-integration into the job market, the association made a contribution to the vitalization of the area. Information about possible utilization was collected over years. With a new concept and the new philosophy of utilization “Centre of competence for renewable energies and preservation of culture” the name of the factory changed to Energiefabrik (= energy factory). But there was not much acceptance for that name through the last years. For many people from Görlitz it always was the beloved, stinky “yeast shack”.
The focus of philosophy means to reflect the old „gone“ energy in some form of spiritual young and sustainable, cultural and environmentally sound „new“ energy and to harmonize proven and innovative conceptions.
A conceptional focus lies on a centre of creativity for artists, craftsmen and persons engaged in the cultural sector, that should be recognized over and above the region. So the conception includes a new living, working and rooming, which is creative, innovative and sustainable connected and running under use of renewable energies and new technologies.
Unfortunately the family Icking didn’t make bigger investments until now to execute a necessary complete renovation. Cultural events took place again, e. g. with the successful art exhibition Zukunftsvisionen, which is organized by students of the study course Culture & Management of the university of Zittau/Görlitz in a different location every year.

Fresh energy and new perspectives
In 2013 there was another change on the factory ground. A new administrator and responsible facility manager was hired and the Ideenfluß e. V. changed its head office and moved out of the factory’s mansion. An association for youth work, the Second Attempt e. V., found its new creative base.
In 2014 some photo exhibitions took place in premises of the factory, which became an insider tip for enthusiast of industrial photography. A big interregional fokus Festival 2014 followed, and there were also school teaching, concerts and theatre performances, which found favor with the numerous visitors.
It might be this special place, that after founder Hagspihl and his family, who always stood for innovation, creativity and affection, the family Icking now develops the area in terms of the town and its inhabitants. Maybe this is due to the fact, that the two families are related!

More information about the background from 2013 on you can get here.

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