Reichsbahnausbesserungswerk Salbke

Built: 1894

Abandoned: 1998

Visited: 2012

Salbke, Germany

This ‘Reichsbahnausbesserungswerk’ was a repair shop of the Deutsche Reichsbahn. The plant was built as ‘Königliche Eisenbahnhauptwerkstatt’ in 1894. Initially 100 workers were employed, they were transferred from surrounding workshops.

In 1898 there were new buildings added to the site. The factory now employed 400 people. The electrical power required for the work was created on site. In 1910, a rail repair shop was established and several villas were built at the southern end of the factory premises. Before the First World War, the factory had more than 1000 employees. Many freight trains and passenger trains were maintained and repaired. During the war they even repaired locomotives. In 1935 began the construction of a forge and a lathe department, which were completed in 1938. To power the welding department, a high pressure acetylene plant was built in 1942. The ‘Azytelengasanlage’ was renovated in 1976. It remained in operation until 1991 and was then replaced by gas containers.

Second World War

In 1944, the railway network of the plant had a total of 55 tracks with a total length of 35 km. All leading to the huge ‘Wagenreparaturwektstatt’. During the Second World War many workers were send to military service and the Reichsbahn employed many women and prisoners. They worked 10 hours a day. On January 1944 there was a air attack that caused considerable damage to the plant and in the surrounding residential areas. 80% was destroyed. A partial reconstruction was carried out during the war. The work was resumed in parts of the halls after cleanup. Early in 1945, 11 from the 55 tracks were in use again. More damage to the buildings was done at the end of the war when the German soldiers blew up ammunition trains near the workshop.

In the time of the DDR, different consumer products were made from unnecessary waste materials. The workshop produced handles for shavers, hammers, wooden fences and parts for agriculture uses such as plowshares. Later, garden furniture, tableware and chisel were manufactured. Until 1990, it produced also drive shafts for the Trabant. All these products were discontinued after 1989. The number of employees has risen up to 2,000 people during the 1980s. But everything changed during the 1990s. Activities were modernized and departments were moved to another location. In 1998 the site closes down. Parts of the plant are protected. But other buildings will be demolished so the big area can be redeveloped.

Photos Reichsbahnausbesserungswerk Salbke

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