Eastern Exploration

Capturing decay.

Schooling workshop of Astrawerke

The building is closely connected to the history of the Astrawerke AG Chemnitz. The company was founded in 1921 by John Greve, who was a former engineer of the Wanderer-Werke. He developed adding machines like the Astra Modell A. The factory grew very fast in the following years and accounting machines were added to the production. The building seen in the pictures was bought by the Astrawerke AG in 1937. It was built in 1905 and operated as a glove factory and later as a sock factory till the owner changed. It later served as a schooling workshop for the factory. After the 2nd world war, many things belonging to the Astrawerke were dismantled due to reparations.

However, in 1946 the production of office machines started again, but the finished products were exclusively for the Soviet Union. It wasn’t until 1948 when the factory was given to the GDR and from then on produced products for East Germany. The name was changed to ‘Mechanik Astrawerke VEB’ . In the year 1951 it was joined with the Wanderer-Werke to the ‘VEB Büromaschinenwerk Chemnitz’. Both were separated again one year later and the former Astrawerke were renamed to ‘VEB Buchungsmaschinenwerk Karl-Marx-Stadt. John Greve, who fled to the Federal Republic of Germany, sued the GDR for using the name ‘Astra’ in their products and won in 1960. The name under which the products were sold from then on was changed to ‘Ascota’. Till the end of the GDR the factory produced accounting machines and office computers like the EC 1834. It belonged to the Kombinat Robotron since 1978 and had about 10400 workers.

After the end of the GDR, it was liquidated and a small part of the company was bought by IBM in 1993. Some of the buildings belonging to the Astrawerke were demolished, one is used as a furniture store, the main building is renovated and the schooling workshop is left to decay.

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