The Palm Oil Storehouse

Am Speicher 11-15
This apartment building was once a storehouse, and along with the glassworks and the “bottle tower,” it is among the last remaining memorials to Stralau’s industrial history. Completed in 1885, it belonged to the factory compound of the Berlin palm oil and carbon disulphide factory Rengert & Co.

The plant produced vegetable oil that was then largely used in the production of margarine, the “little man’s butter.” Carbon disulphide was a bi-product of production. The owner, Paul Rengert (1845–1931) was, as of 1873, co-owner of the Berlin sebum smeltery, light, and soap factory in Linienstraße, founded in 1838.

Construction of the Stralau location at what was then Dorfstraße 7/8 (today Alt-Stralau 44/45) took four years. Factory buildings, three storehouses, a powerhouse, and an administrative building were built across the large property. The palm oil storehouse was built directly on the bank of Lake Rummelsburg. There, the factory owned its own wharf for water transport. The palm kernels, used to produce palm kernel oil, came largely from Togo, which was a German colony from 1884 to 1914. The economic exploitation of both natural resources and of the inhabitants of Togo, who were without rights, was quite significant. Palm kernels were among the exported wares that local porters towed on an entire day’s march to the ports of Togo. Paul Rengert’s company declared bankruptcy in 1899. He himself managed the warehouse in the years that followed. After numerous changes of ownership, the Berlin grain producer Victoria Mühle acquired the company’s buildings and property in 1921, using them to store grain. During the Second World War a forced labor camp was housed on the compound. In February 1945, all buildings except for the storehouse on the bank of Lake Rummelsburg were destroyed in an air raid.

In the GDR, the storehouse belonged to the Berlin Osthafen Mühlen, the mills at Berlin’s eastern port. In 1973, it served as the backdrop for the film Die Legende von Paul und Paula (The Legend of Paul and Paula), produced by the GDR’s state-owned studios. The storehouse and mill lasted until 1990. After a long period of standing empty, the structure, a protected historical landmark, was purchased by an investor in 2010 and turned into an apartment building. The street names, “Am Speicher” (at the storehouse) and “Palmkernzeile” (palm kernel row), introduced in the 1990s, commemorate this history

Show full text

Nach oben