Hans Schlüter, retired employee, Fernschreiberwerk Siemensstadt

Hans Schlüter has a long history with Siemens. He joined the company as a young man in 1963, and he stayed. Among other roles, he worked for the electron casting groups and with high-voltage telephony devices. He later transferred to Siemensstadt’s famous Fernschreiberwerk. He’s participated in the history of the district until his retirement and beyond. Hans Schlüter still lives in Siemensstadt.

Mr. Schlüter, how have you participated in the developments in Siemensstadt? You’ve been here for almost 60 years, right?

Hans Schlüter:
I came to Siemens Berlin in 1963, but I didn’t go straight to the Fernschreiberwerk. Berlin was a manufacturing site, and the Fernschreiberwerk in Siemensstadt was a large factory that employed 4,000 people. Then there was the Röhrenwerk, and then the Dynamowerk. I don’t know how many altogether: There may have been 15,000 people working here. But apart from these three, there were other factories in Siemensstadt, including the Schaltwerk, the Kabelwerk, the Anlagenwerk, and so on. Unfortunately, the development was happening in Munich and not in Berlin. As you know, Berlin was in ruins after the Second World War, and the companies based here left Berlin. Before World War II, everything was developed in Berlin, but because of the Cold War and for political reasons, Siemens moved its management.

And later on you transferred to the Fernschreiberwerk?

Hans Schlüter:
Right: I switched to teleprinters in 1972 or 1973 here in Siemensstadt. That was still the mechanical teleprinter. Just imagine, all the individual parts were manufactured in the Fernschreiberwerk, meaning that the Fernschreiberwerk had a turning shop, a milling shop, an electroplating shop, a punching shop, a drilling shop, and more. Back then it took about 200 hours of labor to manufacture one teleprinter, from the first individual part to the finished product. But then the great innovation arrived: electronics. Siemens developed an electronic teleprinter, the Fernschreiber 1000, which was manufactured starting in 1975. It was a fully electronic device.

And this also affected the Siemensstadt location, correct?

Hans Schlüter:
Production of the mechanical teleprinter ended in 1975, and that had a significant impact on employee numbers. It took 4,000 employees 200 hours to produce the Fernschreiber 100. The electronic teleprinter suddenly reduced this to 20 hours. There was no more need for a milling shop or turning shop. The entire mechanical landscape had to be dismantled. Naturally, this had social implications for the employees. The number of employees was reduced by a factor of 10.

And now you’re experiencing another major transformation. What do you wish for the future?

Hans Schlüter:
In 10 or 15 years, when the large-scale Siemensstadt2 project is finished, I’d like to see improvements in the quality of life here. More has to be done to promote culture, because there’s very little. There’s a district center, but it’s geared more toward older people. In the future, we need to attract well-educated young people. And if we want them to move here, we’re going to have to offer them something more. Maybe by opening more restaurants: for example. Munich has its beer gardens, and I’d like to see something along those lines here. And I have another wish, a personal one. The new development of the innovation campus in Siemensstadt is supposed to include 5G: Extend it throughout Siemensstadt! Artificial intelligence will also be used and developed in the city center, and this is also directly related to autonomous driving. Those are my wishes for the next 10 to 20 years. After that, we’ll see.