Friday, 13 November 2009

East German neon signs (2)

Today I continue my small digression from the title of this blog to celebrate the 20th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall with some more East German neon signs.

The largest concentration of neon signs in Leipzig is found just outside the city centre, near the beginning of the avenue that leads to the former grounds of the Leipzig trade fair. Just off the inner ring road, on Grünewald Straße, two blocks of flats separated by a small square provided the necessary height for those signs to be visible by anyone passing through the southeast corner of the city or travelling to the fair.
The corners of both buildings are crowned by signs for the Volkseigene Möbelkombinate der DDR (People-owned Furniture Combine).

And Progress
For Modern Housing]

A search on the web gives two possible dates for these neon signs. Someone remembers seeing them in 1977, while another source states they were installed there in 1985. Somehow, looking at their design, I'd rather go for the mid-1980s date. Neon signs produced in the 1970s were slightly funkier, even in the rather grey GDR.

The next sign on Grünewald Straße definitely dates from the 1980s as it incorporates the 1981 Jenaer Glas logo. The company’s origins date back to 1884, the year Otto Schott, Carl Zeiss and Roderich Zeiss founded the Glastechnische Laboratorium Schott & Genossen (Schott & Associates Glass Technology Laboratory) in the city of Jena. A few years later they set up the Jenaer Glaswerk Schott & Genossen (Schott & Associates Glass Factory) to handle mass production and marketing of borosilicate glass, a glass invented by Otto Schott in 1887 that can resist high temperatures and thermic variations as well as degradation by chemicals. The shorter brand name Jenaer Glas made its apparition in the 1920s. It was during the inter-war years that famous artists, including Bauhaus professor László Moholy-Nagy, began designing modern, stylish products for the company. In 1945, 41 of the company’s best specialists were captured by US troops and brought to Mainz, where they set up Schott Glaswerke AG. Meanwhile in Jena, the goverment of the new GDR took over the company and the name was changed to Jena Glaswerke VEB (People-owned Jena Glass Factory). Thanks to their high quality, Jenaer Glas products continued to be exported successfully throughout both the east and the west, and were a major foreign currency earner for the GDR. After the reunification the East German factory was acquired by Schott Glaswerke AG.
In the background: JENAer GLAS in aller Welt

Two more neon signs can be seen on the Windmühlenstraße side of the building. The first sign is for Traktoroexport, the trade department of the USSR in charge of exporting Soviet tractors and other agricultural machinery. If in Russia tractors were sold under the name of their respective manufacturer, from 1961 all those sold abroad by Traktoroexport came under the brand “Belarus”. Traktoroexport still exists today.

As for the second neon sign on Windmühlenstraße, it reproduced the slogan of the VEB Leipziger Färberei und chemische Reinigung (People-owned Leipzig Dye and Dry Cleaning Works), located in the northwestern Wahren area of the city (the large building is now abandoned).

[Neat As a Pin]

The strange thing about it is that "durch" at the end doesn't make any sense (not even to Germans...)

All picture above: location: Grünewald Straße / Windmühlenstraße, Leipzig, Sachsen / Pictures taken on: 07/11/2008

Finally here is the little happy chap from the neon sign from VEB Käsefabrik (People-owned Cheese Factory) located in the town of Sangerhausen. Production of cheese using curdled milk began in 1906. In the late 1950s the newly-nationalised company started producing sliced and soft cheese. This proved so successful that it entirely concentrated on these products and stopped making cheese with curdled milk. The factory was privatised in 1993.

Location: Dr-Wilhelm-Külz-Straße, Sangerhausen, Sachsen-Anhalt / Picture taken on: 01/05/2009

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