Karl-Heine Prize


The Karl-Heine Prize of Industriekultur Leipzig e.V. goes to Ludwig Koehne.

His innovative spirit, entrepreneurial activities and social commitment are honoured.

2020 marks the start of the year of industrial culture in Saxony. Here the acceptance speech:

As a young man, I sat beside List and saw the image of a railway from this man, which he had designed over Germany [...] My convictions are rooted in this

(Quote: Karl Heine)

From 1873, Heine had a total of 37 industrial connections laid and three public loading points constructed for companies without track connection from the Prussian Zeitzer station, based on a track connection contract in Plagwitz. The connections and loading points were connected to the Zeitzer station with 15 industrial and connecting railways. He therefore created ideal conditions for the new settlement of industrial operations, which were able to calculate and produce more cheaply thanks to the direct rail connection with more favourable transport links.

(Source: Wikipedia)

Of these 37 industrial connections, one is still in operation – in modified form. This involves the rail connection of the former KIROW factories, which ends in the newly built suburban rail loop. A stopgap solution, as the KIROW connection should also have disappeared on account of failing profitability.

Yet the rail connections had an economic significance until the Fall of the Wall. The forward-looking investment by Karl Heine has thus proven its worth for more than 100 years. That’s a very long time. Who knows whether the current infrastructure of data lines will last so long. The latest fad is already old hat faster than you think.

To do the same as Karl Heine – or at least to act in his spirit – nowadays means making the place where we live fit for the future wherever possible.

As a prize winner, I hope as representative for the Techne Sphere Leipzig – which has arisen from the KIROW factories – to steer us in an acceptable direction.

What are we doing?

Firstly the company KIROW still exists. It seemed moribund after the Fall of the Wall. The railway crane with rigid boom and diesel-electric propulsion was a model past its prime, which nobody in the former Eastern Block wanted anymore – apart from a new dyed-in-the-wool traditionalists.

Secondly, HeiterBlick, also a seemingly “impossible” company. And so it was transformed by dint of a whim from a former work director of the Leipziger Verkehrsbetriebe, who looked at company job losses and – to avoid these – decided to build trams off his own bat for the LVB.

Today KIROW is a market leader for railway cranes with mobile telescopic technology, enjoying a 100% market share for slag transporters in the German-speaking region. With a rising world market share...

HeiterBlick has been swiftly advancing from success to success for 5 years and was able to win orders from Hanover, Dortmund, Bielefeld and recently Würzburg, consolidating on the first trams for Leipzig. More than 300 trams have been delivered or are in the order backlog. This is an unbelievable performance in a tough competitive environment, in which you have to face up to not only big corporations like Siemens, Bombardier and Alstom but also cheap providers from neighbouring countries to the east. It is appreciated – especially by medium-sized German cities – that customer wishes are taken seriously and quality takes top priority not only in words but also in deeds.

KIROW and HeiterBlick form the entrepreneurial basis of the Techne Sphere Leipzig. This new name for the well-known area at the location renamed from Spinnerei into Niemeyer Strasse stands for a belief – even a longing – for future.


No hay limites salvo el cielo

(Quote: Miguel de Cervantes)

„The sky’s the limit”


As a young man, I sat with Günther Schabowski on the sofa. I was a student and had knocked on the door of his panel building apartment together with a friend at the beginning of December 1989. The Fall of the Wall was certainly a most formative experience for me. Tearing down wall, daring to do new things, but also healing the wounds of the past.

This has remained my motivation up until the present.

With the opening of the Niemeyer Sphere the factory walls have also been torn down...

With the Niemeyer Sphere, our symbolic construction of the fabulous architect Oscar Niemeyer – this structural and technically challenging as well as artistically expressive concrete sculpture – we are not only promoting the urban development triad of “work, living and relaxing”, which distinguishes the new Plagwitz/Lindenau; we are also conjuring the power of the human spirit –
a force to achieve the unbelievable – as long as least remnants of desire for progress, feelings for beauty and humanity are to be encountered there.

Thanks for the honour. It befits all employees and fellow campaigners of the Techne Sphere Leipzig.