The Lichtenberg Case

November 23rd, 2014

Field work at the former VEB Elektrokohle Lichtenberg, a site characterized by industrial debris and self-made entrepreneurship

VEB Elektrokohle Lichtenberg was used as a socialist manufacturing plant during the era of the German Democratic Republic. Today, the highly contaminated site is characterized by two concrete towers—all that remains of VEB Elektrokohle after its demolition—and by the Dong Xuan Center, a shopping district mainly catering to the Berlin-based Vietnamese community. Vietnamese workers were invited to Berlin in the framework of long-term programs of workforce training and exchange that existed between the GDR and Vietnam in the 1970s and 1980s. The community that remained in Berlin after unification continued to grow, and they developed peculiar strategies to appropriate and transform the former industrial site, mediating between legal, economic, identity, and environmental issues. An overview and two visual essays delineate the scope of this “anthropocenic landscape” par excellence.