View Full Version : Such were the days – Photos from within an Agfa/Orwo building

12-26-2007, 07:13 AM
There have been photos here from Svema, Fotokemika, Polaroid and Kodak.

On the net I could only find few photos of other plants.

But I found this interesting site covering the directorate and R&D building of the Agfa/Orwo film-and-fibre plant in Wolfen, built in the second construction phase:


Mick Fagan
12-26-2007, 07:56 AM
Very interesting, can you elaborate on the, "second construction phase" bit?

Obviously it isn't used anymore, not for a while at least. You would think that more buildings like this could be used for other local things, but unfortunately that is usually not the case.


12-26-2007, 09:07 AM
Mick there are some hints in the text and I don't want to translate it all.

The text says that it was looked for a new new destination since the early nineties, such as a city hall for the city of Wolfen; the "Treuhand" had an office there for some years.
I don't know when these photos were made.

The first major phase was in 1910 when a complete film plant was erected wthin one year consisting of a dozen buildings.

The look was like this:


and this


I guess a major growth took place in the thirties with an enlargement of the fibre plant. In the same period that directorate building was erected 1936-38. The text also hints at some style resamblences with the IG-Farben main office building in Frankfurt.

After the war new builings were erected, I assume in a what more neutral style.

The Filmotec building is a more modern building.

The newest building in Wolfen was the new technicum for R&D opened in 1989 which was torn down before it ever was used...

12-26-2007, 11:23 AM
That is a beautiful building!
Happy New Year

Mick Fagan
12-26-2007, 08:14 PM
Many thanks for the reply/translation.

I couldn't view the links but it doesn't matter.

Interesting that they pulled down a building that wasn't ever used, perhaps there was a more dark motive involved and the wall falling down may have spurred the pulling down of the new building?


12-26-2007, 11:27 PM
AgX .. there is a book, "IFM From Past to Present: A walk through the former 'filmfabrik'" by Industrie - und Filmmuseum Wolfen e.V., printed by Drujckhaus Dessau GmbH, translated by Rolf Schlegel that was limited to a printing of 1000.

I got my copy from the kind folks at Filmotec/ORWO -- Mr. Rainer Redmann, the managing director and Mr. Frank Böhme, the marketing manager. They were very interested in the history of ORWO and when I met them in 2001, I gave them a copy of Fritz Wentzel's, "Memoirs of a Photochemist" which talks about Agfa/Ansco in both Germany and the US prior to WWII.

It may be hard to come by, so if that proves to be the case, I will see if they can locate another copy for you.

Speaking of ORWO, Here's a blast from the past:


Also: I never knew Pentacon had TV ads!


12-30-2007, 04:32 PM

There is no hint at dark motives, whatever that means.
The major problem of Orwo seems to have been that they had been bounded, as all industry, in a corset of state planning, which made it difficult to react on new tendencies. I got the impression that the urge to produce volume within an infrastructure that was at the verge of being sufficient and at the same time trying to introduce new products or new production methods was a continuing conflict. Resulting in what they considered of getting more and more behind in relation to their western `competitors´. (Also, don’t forget that East German industries had to face much more intensive deconstruction in 1945 than those in the West, and there had been no change of wind in form of a Marshall-Plan. Furthermore technical development was structured within the socialist world which meant that some fields were taken over by the USSR.)

One practible example would be that the type of the building construction of one certain new building was decided from outside, which meant that constructional adaptations of that building due to new machinery were not feasible. Or, that technicum I referred to, emulsionmaking for R&D and specialties-production was deceided on in 82 and scheduled for 86, but was ready only at the end of 89.
At this point I have to correct myself. (Not the first time… but please be kind, there is a lot of information on Orwo, especially in contrast to their competitors, but spread over a whole bunch of publications…) Well, I guess that emulsion-technicum was used indeed, as the Orwo attempt from 1980 to finally go the C-41 and E-6 way on own products was running until 1994. Which means that their late C-41 Orwocolor PR 100 and QRS 100/CNG 100 as well as variations on their Orwochrome DIA (Orwo process, no there were no coatings of E-6 films) were born in that building.

On the other hand, it is always easy to state the Eastern industries were miscontrolled by state authorities far off. Now I hear rumors here in the West about the Western industries, in the meaning of “What could have we all been making, if management had let us loose?”

Dark sides.
From that managing director office shown in one photo, decisions were made in the war times which had much deeper impact on people than in times before.
I am referring to slave labour.
Something which is not revealed in those Agfa/Orwo museum publications I got. (However in a GDR publication by authors later writing for that museum.)


Thanks, I realized that this publication is still on sale. I shall order a copy.