Mystery Bridge Nr. 81: The Bridge To An Elevator


During my tour of Chemnitz in western Saxony a few days ago, I happened to come across this rather unusual crossing. Spanning the Kappelbach Creek approximately 150 meters west of the River Chemnitz and the Pfortensteg in the city of Chemnitz, this crossing is located at a park where the bike path runs parallel to the river through the city with 240,000 inhabitants. By first glance, my impression was that it was a typical concrete beam bridge built in the East German era like many other bridges that had been destroyed in World War II. However, when crossing it, one can see an unusual building-like structure that seems to be walled into a high cliff. Looking at the cliff more closely, it extends approximately 500 meters from the Bierbrücke near the district of Kassberg to the north, towards the intersection where Highways 95 and 173 meet to the southwest. Of which, approximately 150 meters seemed to be walled with bricks and concrete, making it appear that Chemnitz once had an underground passage that started at the park and networked its way to the castle. It is known that there were underground passageways at the Kassberg and Bier Bridges- one of which served as a passage for prisoners, another for transporting beer to the walls of the city, where the multi-story houses are located today.

Yet when looking at the bridge and this structure, this definitely was the work of an East German engineer, who like many others wanted to paint Chemnitz with a communst face, which was the reason why the city was called Karl-Marz-Stadt from 1953 to 1990. The building presented some skeletal features that are geometric with rectangular shapes- each row with a different pattern. While this skeletal structure now houses pipelines providing warm water to the city center, one has to wonder what original purpose this skeletal structure had. Because the height of the cliff from the ground to the top is between 20 and 30 meters- about the length of the crossing itself- and its approximate location to some key judicial areas, such as the district and labor courts, it is possible that at one time it served as a large elevator providing people and bikes with a lift to see the judge. That would put the construction date to the 1960s when electric elevators were becoming useful for high-rise buildings and the government district of Karl-Marx-Stadt was functioning like a state, extending its reach of jurisidiction to as far west as Jena and Gera, as far south as the Ore Mountains (Erzgebirge) and Vogtland, as far east as Freiberg and as far north as Riesa. Most of the judicial district may have been located at the top of the hill at the site of today’s district courts, which had been a traditional location because of the nearby castle. After the Fall of the Wall in 1989 and the subsequential Reunification a year later, that elevator no longer served as that function and was therefore converted to its present form. But more evidence is needed to prove this.

As for other functions, the building or a prison complex are concerned, given the lack of space it had between the outlet and the walled cliffs it is anchored into, that would be impossible because of the need to add 3-4 stories with shafts with handles for people to climb up or down.

But could this building actually had housed this elevator at that time or was it really meant for a pipeline cover? We know that it is as old as the structure that is now a pedestrian bridge- 50+ years old and still functioning like other GDR buildings at that time. But was this building an elevator or a skeletal unit?

Looking forward to your thoughts on this……

Check out Mystery Bridge Nr. 80 by clicking here.


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