Dec 4, 201714 comments

VEB Kraftfuttermischwerk Fürstenberg: Fodder for thought

Oh, how it aches! It suffers in silence on the banks of the Havel, dreams and memories flowing like the past into Röblinsee. The Kraftfuttermischwerk made food for animals, now it’s just food for thought.

The way to anyone’s heart is through their stomach and for a time VEB Kraftfuttermischwerk Fürstenberg was loved by all who gobbled up its produce. But turkeys, chickens, pigs and cows are fickle fodder futterers. No gobble, no party – Futtermischwerk forgotten.

Mauerfall made a pig’s dinner of it, as indeed it did of many things. There were 120 workers here when it closed in 1992 despite big investment to bring it up to standard. It had been in operation since 1957.

The Futtermischwerk wasn’t the only casualty of reunification. Local man Werner Strache wrote about the changes in Fürstenberg at the time, saying, “the economy collapsed, businesses closed down.”

The biggest employer in the town, the Fürstenberg section of VEB Schiffselektronik Rostock, was closed down, while the Kraftfuttermischwerk “had to stop its work,” Strache said. Two clothing factories that mostly employed women were also wound down.

“Unemployment that was never before experienced or feared took hold,” Strache wrote. “Now we know what it is to be unemployed and no longer needed.”

It wasn’t always a Futtermischwerk, oh no! It used to be known as Behrnsche Mühle (Behrns’ Mill), upholding a long tradition of milling in Fürstenberg on the Havel. The tradition was grounded in the 14th century.

It seems the first to build a mill on the site of what would later become the Futtermischwerk was Johann Christian Negendanck in 1720.




















The mill went through various owners, naturally enough, before Ludwig Behrns took it over in 1876. Behrns had good timing. The railway reached Fürstenberg the following year and had a huge impact. Suddenly people could get trains.

But from a miller’s point of view, it meant a greater supply of grain, and more options to distribute the milled product. Horse and cart took the grain to and from the trains, and Behrns grew the business by expanding the site. The mill had around 12 workers in 1894.

Ludwig Behrns died in 1904. Willy Behrns, his son, took over. Willy oversaw a renovation of the business in 1910, but a large fire on Oct. 6, 1911 arguably had a greater impact, burning the whole place down.

More than 100 construction workers helped build a new mill – the buildings you see today – within six months in 1912. Very soon it was producing 400 sacks of wheat and 200 sacks of rye every day. This increased rapidly over time.

Apparently “no expense was spared to keep the business up to date technically in all areas.” A new flour and bran granary with access to rail and water was added in 1925, when 10 rail carriages could be loaded with grain at the same time. Steamboats and tubs were loaded waterside.

By the time Firma L. Behrns celebrated 50 years in 1926, it stood “as an exemplary company whose good foundations ensure it will also maintain its level in future.”

The mill was one of north Germany’s biggest, (and north Germany was much bigger at the time, too), daily producing 800 sacks of wheat and 400 sacks of rye.

Willy Behrns died in 1942. Two years before he died, he signed off a letter to the Rostock University library with “Heil Hitler!” Now maybe people will say everyone signed off every letter with “Heil Hitler!” at the time – that it was the equivalent of Liebe Grüße.

Other letters from Firma L. Behrns in 1938 were also signed off “Heil Hitler!” by someone who only signed their initial, R.

But I’m not sure it was a prerequisite at the time, and if it was, people could still decide – at risk of death, admittedly – to fight it or oppose it. Nazis only got to power because German people let them. Many did oppose the Nazis of course, but nowhere near enough. It doesn’t appear that Willy Behrns was among them.




















After defeating the Nazis in the war, the Red Army used his mill as a camp for a while, before it became a VEB (volkseigener Betrieb) and milled grain again, this time for the DDR.

VEBs were so-called publicly owned businesses in East Germany, meaning they belonged to the state and not the public at all. You couldn’t just wander into a VEB and demand your share. No, you had to go in and sweat your ass off working for the VEB.

The only bit you owned was the sweat you produced before you gave it away. The VEB owned you, on behalf of the DDR. Yet they called them volkseigener Betriebe.

The DDR was still finding its feet as a communist state eight years after its formation when the grain-mill became a Kraftfuttermischwerk. I’ve no idea why.

Maybe one of the manager’s lady friends took pity on a starving donkey and convinced her sweatheart (a sweetheart who works in a VEB) to feed it. Of course, if you feed one donkey, you have to feed them all. And so the Futtermischwerk was assumedly born.

No doubt Kraftfuttermischwerk Fürstenberg produced fine fodder but it’s all snow from yesterday, as Germans like to say, and in a sorry state now. Empty, desolate, dislocated from society, it longs to be taken back into its fold, unforgotten and cherished once again.

Not even the geese flying south for winter bother checking in. Why would they? There’s nothing to eat in these giant cavernous halls any more.





















  • What: VEB Kraftfuttermischwerk Fürstenberg, a former fodder factory fabricating fine futter for farm folk’s flocks. Before that it was a mill, milling grain for all folk and their flocks.
  • Where: Schützenstraße 9, 16798 Fürstenberg/Havel. (In DDR times, Mitschurinstraße 9, Fürstenberg 1432.)
  • How to get there: Get the regional train to Rostock from Berlin Hauptbahnhof or Gesundbrunnen and get off at Fürstenberg. Take your first right onto Schützenstraße when you leave the train station, then your first right again to go under the bridge. Keep going, and you’ll find the Kraftfuttermischwerk on your left. You can’t miss it – it’s the massive clearly abandoned building accompanied by several smaller clearly abandoned buildings. But here it is on a map for those of you that like to be sure.
  • Getting in: It’s easy enough to get through the half-arsed fence. The buildings are all accessible too. Happy days.
  • When to go: Daytime. I know this seems to be the default time to go now, but it would be quite dangerous to come here at night and I don’t recommend anyone does that. This is a large industrial site with lots of pitfalls, things to fall into and off. It’s much better and safer to see where you’re going.
  • Difficulty rating: 3/10. The biggest hassle is the train journey from Berlin. Plan a daytrip and take the time also to check out the various Lenins who are still residing in the area.
  • Who to bring: Well don’t bring your pet pig if that’s what you were thinking. Sorry to disappoint the critter, but the only grub now is at the Chinese restaurant on Bahnhofstraße, though to be honest I’m not sure a pig would eat it. Bring whoever you’d like to bring.
  • What to bring: Bring some food so you don’t need to go to that Chinese restaurant, and some water so you don’t get ripped off at the train station. Fürstenberg is a weird place, where the locals seem to think every visitor is from Munich to be milked for every last cent they have. Bring some beer and some cheer, for there are no Spätis in Fürstenberg.
  • Dangers: As mentioned already, there are no Spätis in Fürstenberg. Be warned! Otherwise the Kraftfuttermischwerk is quite a dangerous place in itself, especially if you climb up and are in any way afraid of heights. The floors at the upper levels are not stable and if you happen to be on one when it collapses there won’t be much hope. You do need to take a lot of care. Stay alive.

Many thanks to Frebbe again for his invaluable research assistance, and to the overworked Mark Rodden for proofreading again!

More industrial ruins

Kraftwerk Vogelsang

Kraftwerk Vogelsang

Kraftwerk Vogelsang is a powerless power plant. People gave their lives building it and fighting over it. Now that they’re gone, nobody wants it at all.



Security was tight in the Underberg herbal rotgut distillery as they thought only five humans knew the secret recipe. Now the secret’s out.

Tetra Pak

Tetra Pak

Glass milk bottles are rejoicing with schadenfreude after learning of Tetra Pak’s fate. The packaging giant abandoned its factory in Heiligensee in 2013.


  1. Carlos Gomes

    Nice! I´d seen it from the train, but never found the time to visit it, since my trips to Fürstenberg had always the aime of exploring the Soviet stuff. But it seems to be really cool, congrats!

  2. Anonymous

    We have been there yesterday. Easy to find, easy access to site and buildings, great site for exploring and taking photos.

    Skip the almost wrecked unsafe smaller houses on the east side and go for the big concrete buildings. Their staircases are OK. Always check the ground for obstacles and holes. Beware of falling out of elevated windows (or open doors!) or rushing into holes in the ground. Always check the ceiling condition too. Take my advice: Never ever walk through these high-lying connection passages, because it´s very dangerous! Everything else is quite safe.

    Definitely worth the visit! What a cool place…! Please do not destroy it.

    Thank you very much for really and truly awesome hint, Irish Berliner! Great HP, keep on going!

  3. Anonymous

    Was there with a friend today. It’s a bit run down, but it’s still a nice place. The whole factory is still bare, but a few wooden beams have already been modified. The soil sometimes gives way, attention! Nearby are a few family houses, where sometimes people go long. Incidentally, an excavator drove on another property and tore off a house there. Can only recommend the place.

  4. Anonymous

    Try to find Henry Hübchen and the DDR pin-up girls! 😉

  5. Unknown

    Anyone been there recently? Is it still around?

  6. Anonymous

    Been there today; there’s a poster of an apartment complex they plan to build there but looks like nothing has been demolished yet, just walk around the fence to get in, it’s pretty much open to anyone and locals don’t seem to particularly care

  7. Anonymous

    went yesterday. had a small crew of 6. was totally fine. no one minded at all!

  8. frebbe

    Did anyone find the fragmented gravestone of the old miller Behrns, which somehow survived on 1st floor at the lakeside end of the buildings parallel to the railway tracks? Has anyone found the 2nd control center or even been up to the last remaining florr, thats left ‘hanging’ in the completely gutted storage with wooden floors?

  9. Anonymous

    Went today, there’s still no sign of redevelopment other than the signs. Passers-by on the road didn’t seem to mind.The tall concrete buildings are the most exciting, although you have to be pretty careful for holes in the floor. There is some really good graffiti in these, and in the old canteen. There’s a lot of abandoned shoes of all types, usually sat neatly next to each other, for some reason. Watch your footing on the ground too, as there is a lot of lose concrete and it’s easy to twist your ankle. The bridges looked far too dangerous to cross.

  10. Anonymous

    Went over the weekend, still no sign of development. Easy to get in and out and fun to run around in. The bridges are fine, just be careful. Great views from the top of the highest building!

  11. underthedust

    I went there a couple of days ago. Really easy to get there but there’s not so much to see anymore, the place is pretty fucked up…. To my opinion, not really worth the trip…

  12. Anonymous

    Anyone been there recently?

  13. Anonymous

    I was there on the Whitsun weekend of 2022. Compared to the state a few years ago, everything is now pretty much cleared out, broken and spray-painted, and structurally unsafe. The site is freely accessible, the fence open. When I entered the area, I met people from the volunteer fire brigade who were training there with dogs. They were camped there and probably had permission from the owner. They didn’t mind that I wanted to have a look around.
    Conclusion: I would say that it is unfortunately no longer worthwhile…

  14. Anonymous

    09.10.22 Report: Openly accessible and wonderful. Some doors were open and I managed to climb the stairs all the way to the top tower. The wooden bridges though looked very unsafe to cross. Be careful!


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