Eisenhüttenstadt (Stalinstadt), Germany, Europe
Year1950latitude: 52° 9'
longitude: 14° 39'
Planning organization
Nationality initiator(s)
Designer(s) / Architect(s)Kurt W. Leucht
Design organization
Inhabitants39,000 (2004)
Target population30,000
Town websitehttp://www.eisenhuettenstadt.de
Town related linkshttp://www.ddr5.homestead.com/files/eh/eh.html
Literature- Barth, Holger, Grammatik sozialistischer Architkturen. Lesarten historischer Städtebauforschung zur DDR, Berlin 2001.
- Beier, Rosemarie, Aufbau west Aufbau ost. Die Planstädte Wolfsburg und Eisenhüttenstadt in der Nachkriegszeit, Berlin 1997.
- Colditz, Heinz/Lücke, Martin, Stalinstadt. Neues Leben. Neue Menschen, Berlin 1958.
- Durth, Werner, Jörn Düwel and Niels Gutschow, Architektur und Städtebau der DDR, Frankfurt am Main 1998.
- Düwel, Jörn, Baukunst voran! Architektur und Städtebau in der SBZ/DDR, Berlin 1995.
- Freytag, Claudia, ‘Arbeiterstadt und Arbeiterstaat Wolfsburg und Eisenhüttenstadt’, Kultur & Technik 21 (1997) 4, 22-27.
- Klement, Franz and Peter Boye, Synthese Architektur und Bildende Kunst Eisenhüttenstadt, Eisenhüttenstadt, undated, probably 1980s.
- Kohler, Robert, ‘Wohnbebauung in Eisenhüttenstadt’, Deutsche Bauzeitschrift 46 (1998) 2, 97-100.
- Leucht, Kurt W., Die erste neue Stadt in der Deutschen Demokratischen Republik. Planungsgrundlagen und -ergebnisse von Stalinstadt, Berlin 1957.
- Lozac’h, Valérie, Eisenhüttenstadt, Leipzig 1999.
- May, Ruth, Planstadt Stalinstadt. Ein Grundriss der frühen DDR. Aufgesucht in Eisenhüttenstadt, Dortmund 1999.
- Opitz, Hellmut and Werner Bauer, Eisenhüttenstadt, Leipzig 1975.
- Paltuzki, Joachin, Architektur in der DDR, Berlin 2000.
- Richter, Jenny, Heike Förster and Ulrich Lakemann, Stalinstadt – Eisenhüttenstadt. Von der Utopie zur Gegenwart. Wandel industrieller, regionaler und sozialer Strukturen in Eisenhüttenstadt, Marburg 1997.

type of New Town: > scale of autonomy
New Town
Company Town
> client
Private Corporation
Public Corporation
> policy

source: Saskia Hulskes

source: Saskia Hulskes

Eisenhüttenstadt, formerly named Stalinstadt, was the first socialist city on German ground. The town is located in East Germany, close to the Polish border, in the Brandenburg region at the other side of the river of the old village of Fürstenburg, and to the south of the new industrial area. Since the foundation of the German Democratic Republic (GDR) the East German government started planning new industrial areas for the production of steel and iron. With the separation of East and West, East-Germany had lost the most important industrial area of Germany. The Ruhr area became part of the west. Only with an own industry could East Germany become independent from the West. The realization of the metallurgical industry became the focus point of the centrally planned economy of the GDR. Steel and iron factories were planned in largely uncultivated land nearby the minerals, after the example of the industrial areas in Russia that were realized in the thirties. These factories were mostly located far from the large cities and workers' villages. New settlements were built next to the new industrial areas and mines to provide the factories with employers. Stalinstadt was the first company town to be built in the GDR. Stalinstadt was, however, not only planned with a productive function; the main objective was to create a totally new socialist community. The Soviet Union took strong measures to decrease land values and landownership. The East German land became state property. Without property problems and with total planning control it was possible to design an ideal compact city that was different from the urban sprawl in the west. The first socialist city on German ground became a model for GDR urban planning and architecture.

Urban plan and design
The construction of Stalinstadt began directly after the decision of the Council of Ministers in 1951. The German architect Kurt W. Leucht was chosen to design the new city for 30,000 workers families, because of his experience in city planning in Germany and Russia. He designed the city according to the 'Sixteen Principles of Socialist Urban Planning' (Sechzehn Grundsätzen des Städtebaus, 1950). The compact spatial structure should make manifest that this socialist city was built for the community and not for making a profit. The architecture reflected the socialist content in the style of the Russian Socialist-Realism that was dictated by the Soviet state as the Leitmotiv of socialism. The housing complexes had plastered façades decorated with classical forms like columns, pilasters, keystones and cornices. The ornaments were stuck on the façades to 'enrich' the buildings and to make them 'palaces for the workers'. The houses were organized in four districts around a centre with public and administrative buildings, such as a city hall, a theatre and a house of culture, to distribute the propaganda of the socialist state. Other facilities, such as schools, laundrettes and kindergartens were intended to relieve the mothers from household activities, to make her equal to men. Between the housing complexes a system of green courtyards was laid out for public use instead of private gardens. Green spaces were more important than roads, because car ownership was rejected in the socialist city. Roads were only laid out for pedestrians and busses that transported the workers to the factory complex. The streets were oriented towards the prestigious entrance gate of the complex that was located to the north of the residential district. In fact, the factory had replaced the church in the centre of the traditional western town. The important location of the factory at the end of the monumental allee showed that belief in God was substituted by faith in the working class, with the state as the only and highest power.

The second building phase, however, showed another conviction. Because of the arrival of many new immigrants, the houses were stripped of the external appearance for a 'cheaper, faster and better' industrial production. This was brought about by the new Soviet leader Nikita S. Chroesjtsjov (1894-1971). With his gain of power the Stalin idolatry ended and the name Stalinstadt was changed to Eisenhüttenstadt, as a reference to the productive function of the town. Instead of the closed building blocks with monumental façades, rows of houses with saddle roofs and Plattenbau-apartment buildings with four stories were constructed with standardized construction elements. The apartments only contained the essential living space. Some were equipped with sanitary facilities but many apartments lacked a private kitchen. By eating in collective kitchens and sharing the bathrooms, some kind of brotherhood was supposed to arise within the population. Sometimes the furniture was even selected by the architect to show the communist way of living. It is obvious that not everyone appreciated the interference of the state. Most people criticized the Plattenbau-buildings because of the lack of facilities and its monotonous appearance.

Present situation
In spite of these problems many people have settled, because of the large amount of employment, and new generations were raised in Stalinstadt/Eisenhüttenstad during the GDR period. After the reunification, the factory complex was handed over to private investors. Most of the factories closed because the industrial production was not profitable anymore. The younger generation and the middle class left for the big cities in search of better job opportunities and education. The elderly and the foreign guest workers, who could not afford better, remained. The habitation of low-income groups and the lack of jobs in the city resulted in unemployment and criminality. The population shrank from 50,000 to less than 20,000 inhabitants. The municipality now dismantles the empty building complexes at the borders of the city, from outside to inside. In this way the city structure will be kept intact. But the population is still shrinking and it is uncertain to what degree destruction will continue.

source: Saskia Hulskes

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