Eisfabrik losing its cool

As the nights turn chilly, the ice factory’s coolness is paradoxically cooling. Not only is it getting too damn cold to sit on the rooftop and drink a beer, but the view is compromised by new apartments springing up beside the river.
Apart from the fact there’s nothing much of the original factory still to see – the insides are gutted but for the remains of the iconic machine with the giant wheel – the entire thing smells of piss, is overrun with rodents and even the street art no longer seems to be of a quality it once was. Perhaps I went back on a bad day...
Last month a group of around 20 youths who wanted to hold a party here got a nasty surprise when they were confronted by two men and two women. One of the men had an iron bar, and the victims were apparently dragged to the roof where they were beaten. Three girls and four guys received head and body injuries before the alarm was raised.
Three of the perpetrators were arrested, the women 37 and 40, and a 40-year-old man, all from Bulgaria. They face charges of causing grievous bodily harm. The guy with the iron bar got away.
But it turns out they weren’t squatters as initially thought. I presumed they were people living there who had been disturbed by the raucous party animals but no – not according to the Polizei. So the circumstances behind the attack remain unclear.
There are squatters living at the Eisfabrik as I wrote before, both of a German variety and an East European one. My general approach to squatters is to leave them the hell alone – I wouldn’t like people coming in and wandering around my house unannounced – but some of the Eisfabrik inhabitants are turning the building’s popularity to their advantage.
When I walked in last Friday there was a dude sitting on a chair with a cup chatting to another sitting on another chair. I went past and took photos of the machine with the giant wheel and when I was I was going back outside, the dude asked for money. He was begging really. I shook my head, didn’t give him anything and walked on.
I briefly roamed around the rest of the building, noted some of the best artwork had been painted over with inferior stuff, the new apartments blocking the view from the roof, and made by way back out – it was Hallowe’en and I had other places to go.
As I was leaving a group of three tourists arrived and the dude started shaking his cup with authority, demanding money for entrance. The tourists looked at each other in alarm and yanked their wallets out, throwing money at the guy to appease him.
Now, I’m not saying he doesn’t have the right to beg for money, but of course he doesn’t own the Eisfabrik and he has no right to charge admission. He’s just another in this city making money however he can. He’s certainly not as bad as the fuckers charging admission to Teufelsberg – they have hired goons to ensure people pay.
It’s still worth a visit if you haven’t been before. The Eisfabrik is easily accessible, some of the artwork is fantastic, and it’s certainly an experience to experience. It ain’t as cool as it used to be but hey, that’s a given for a former ice factory.

UPDATE: Monday, December 30, 2013 – Der Tagespiegel reports tonight that there is security in place at the Eisfabrik as of today (Monday) and that 50 squatters have been evicted. Of these, 20 Bulgarians with nowhere else to go are to be housed in a hostel in Kreuzberg until January 6. I’m not sure what happens to them after January 6 but apparently the city is working on “a speedy and non-bureaucratic solution.”
The owner of the property, Bochum company Telamon GmbH, is paying the cost of security. Tagespiegel didn’t say whether security was 24 hours or not, but obviously part-time security would be cheaper for Telemon, which was loath to pay for security before…
I suspect all this unwanted attention is a result of the attack on the 20 youths (age 15 to 23) on October 7 last, when they were confronted by two women and two men, one of whom wielded an iron bar. The victims were dragged onto the roof where they were struck by the guy with the iron bar, while the others merely kicked and punched the youths. The perpetrators were not squatters, apparently.
Seven youths were injured, two needed hospital treatment, three of the assailants were arrested, the guy with the iron bar got away, and suddenly the city was aware of the old abandoned ice factory.
There will, of course, be further developments…
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i've been there in september for the second time. i thought i'll be able to have a better look around after my first brief visit some years ago. i was terribly disappointed. squatters everywhere, smell of piss everywhere, and it just felt very tense there. i don't think i want to go back there anymore.

i dropped by here the other week and i didn't even bother venturing in. A guy sitting at the door trying to ask for money, squatters lurking around which is fair enough, everyone needs somewhere to sleep. But the place smelt like piss and sh*t, all the characters in there gave a real sense of unsafe and uncertainty and there were some definite sketchy characters lurking about, and being by myself i didn't feel like risking all my camera gear for what looked like so sub pat art inside. Such a shame this place has lost its cool!

Ah, it's still worth going in for a look I reckon. Obviously, more care is needed...

i went there recently and found it fascinating! although there was one man who stumbled out of his make shift house with axe, walked past us and up the stairs which was slightly un-nerving.

Hmm, give the squatters a break. Sure it's shit when places smell like piss, but when you're in a country with no legal working rights, and have lost the youth and good health that it takes to find easy money other places, there's nothing wrong with asking (even demanding) money from people in a much better situation who want to see your home. I always think, it's not a matter of who got there first, but who uses it most.

I disagree. I don't see how you can say it's OK for anyone to demand money for nothing, regardless of who's in a better position or not. I don't see a guy in a Mercedes and demand money, simply because he's better off than I am.
Sure, I sympathize with people who are finding it tough, especially immigrants with no legal rights, but I still don't believe that gives them the right to ask for money - even if it is to see their home. They chose to make it their home.
The visitors have just as much right to be there as the squatters do. Maybe the visitors should demand money from the squatters? After all, as you say, they're using it more.

well if you sympathize with them then you should understand why they ask for money. people without legal status can practically do nothing here to earn money in a legal way. the policy is just nuts. but as long as it is like this they ask for money. be happy they didn't take you're things. i wouldn't blame them. and just think a few seconds how nice you have it sitting in your warm room right now.

I can understand why they ask for money. They're begging because of their circumstances. Doesn't make it OK to demand money however. They're taking advantage of unsuspecting tourists and I don't think that's OK, regardless of their circumstances or Germany's fucked up immigration laws. What should the tourists do? Reclaim their losses from the state?
I'm not even going to address your dangerous assertion that it's OK for them to steal.
And you have no idea how hot or cold my room is right now. My personal circumstances have nothing to do with it.

I should add, lest you misunderstand me, that I have no problem giving money to homeless or people in need on the streets/trains. Those people don't demand money, nor try and trick me out of it, which is the main problem I have with the people at the Eisfabrik.
They, on the other hand, are charging admission for something they aren't entitled to, taking advantage of unsuspecting visitors. It's the dishonesty I object to. That's all.

I guess that when someone has to make is lifestyle in such a place, it has'nt been his first choice. There are still so many empty places, that complain about squatters on a empty place it's excessive. I think their try to have a roof is before our will to see cool places.

Hey there ! Is there still access to this ice factory or is it closed down ? Great Web site !

Last time I was there it was bricked up, fenced off and patrolled by security. Scroll down for the last update here: http://www.abandonedberlin.com/2011/11/frozen-out-abandoned-ice-factory.html
That's not to say that the security hasn't vanished in the meantime - it costs money after all - and that someone hasn't bulldozed their way back in again - maybe they did - but I haven't been there recently to check.

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