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A crumbling industrial ruin: The Diamant Brewery complex in Magdeburg

David Goran

On April 5, in 1841, two brothers Albert and Hermann Wernecke started a small brewing company in their parent’s house in Magdeburg Germany. Albert Wernecke was a skilled brewer and his brother Hermann was trained in banking and the grain business, so the company prospered quickly.

The facility was moved to the current location in Magdeburg-Neustadt in 1843. Source

The facility was moved to the current location in Magdeburg-Neustadt in 1843. Source

 

By 1888, the company had 180 employees. Source

By 1888, the company had 180 employees. Source

After Albert and Hermann Wernecke passed away, the brewery changed its name to the Actien Brauerei. From 1887 through 1888, large castle-like buildings were constructed to further expand beer production. The facility added a fountain, an ice house, larger steam engines and even its own railway station.

In the 60s and 70s, the equipment was modernized, including 22-meter high fermentation tanks and a pasteurizer. Source

In the 60s and 70s, the equipment was modernized, including 22-meter high fermentation tanks and a pasteurizer. Source

Since the brewery possessed all the necessary machinery, equipment and buildings, and also a separate 40-horsepower steam engine for the operation of the brewery, it was decided to convert the company into a corporation, with a registered capital of 2.7 million marks.

In 1937, the Diamant beers became a trademark name for the brewery. Source

In 1937, the Diamant beers became a trademark name for the brewery. Source1 Source 2

By 1941, the facility became the largest brewery in the province with 680 workers. With an annual production of nearly 250,000 hectoliters of beer, it was the largest brewery in the province of Saxony.

In 1941, 680 people were employed at the brewery. Source

In 1941, 680 people were employed at the brewery. Source

 

By the time the German Democratic Republic came into power, the facility produced over 14.5 million gallons of beer since its founding. Source

By the time the German Democratic Republic came into power, the facility produced over 14.5 million gallons of beer since its founding. Source

After the Second World War, 70% of the buildings were heavily damaged and destroyed by artillery. Despite the damage, production resumed just one year later and the brewery quickly bounced back to life. In 1947, the brewery became a state-owned enterprise and was renamed as VEB diamond brewery of Magdeburg-Neustadt. At that time, VEB Kombinat Magdeburg had an output of 550,000 hectoliters of beer.

In 1947, the brewery became a state-owned enterprise (VEB). Source

In 1947, the brewery became a state-owned enterprise (VEB). Source

 

The brewery continued production until the Diamant brand slowly disappeared from the market. Source

The brewery continued production until the Diamant brand slowly disappeared from the market. Source

In 1994, the brewery was shuttered and the facility became a crumbling industrial ruin, except for a small portion of the campus which was brought back to life as a small brewery and restaurant.