History comes alive
Come and explore the former chocolate factory in Berlin Kreuzberg, now protected as a historic monument. Experience the diversity of tenants housed in the 6 courtyard blocks (Hoefe) at Mehringdamm 53-57, situated in the lively inner-city district of Kreuzberg.
Today, a diverse range of companies are housed in more than 10,000 sq m of commercial floor space enclosed within the complex of courtyard buildings belonging to the former chocolate factory with the famous Sarotti Moor. Small craft workshops, event marketing agencies, painters and artists as well as a driving school, television companys and many other companies reflect the diversity of this district.
The history of the Sarotti-Hoefe
The history of the building complex is closely tied to the history of the Sarotti company and exemplifies the industrialisation of Berlin at the end of the 19th century. By the middle of the 19th century, Kreuzberg was already becoming well known as a commercial centre far beyond the confines of Berlin. Young Berlin tradesmen and merchants were revolutionising the manufacturing trades by utilising new technical innovations, introducing rational production methods and adapting to changing market conditions. Both the founding year of the company, 1868, and the year of construction, 1894, are commemorated on the gable wall of the second side building at Mehringdamm 55. In addition to the office staff, 360 workers were employed here in 1896.
The history of the Sarotti Moor
The history of the Sarotti Moor begins in 1868 when Hugo Hoffmann, who had trained in Paris as a confectioner, began producing gourmet chocolates according to French recipes. Then aged 24, the Stuttgart-born confectioner first began producing confectionary at Mohrenstrasse 10, now in the district of Mitte (Mohrenstrasse is German for Moor Street, hence the figure of a Moor in the trademark). Pralines and chocolate products proved to be highly lucrative and in 1878 he took over the "Felix & Sarotti" confectionery shop to provide a sales outlet.
The business flourished so that in 1883 larger premises were sought and found in a factory building on the conveniently situated Belle-Alliance-Strasse 81 (today Mehringdamm 53). In 1898 and around 1903, Hoffmann expanded his firm by buying adjoining plots. Before its acquisition by Mr Hoffmann, the original site at Mehringdamm 53 - 57 (formerly Belle-Allicance-Strasse 81 - 83) comprised three plots of land: the apartment building and commercial courtyard premises at No.53 were built in 1862, the neighbouring courtyard building, No. 55, was built in the same year, while the apartment building and commercial courtyard premises at No. 57 followed in 1894. Initially the apartment buildings were located within a more up-market residential area, with aristocrats and people from the armed services living here. During the subsequent period, an increasing number of commercial enterprises moved into the rear courtyard premises. In No. 53, the Hoffmann & Tiede factory had been producing chocolate under the management of Hugo Hoffmann since 1883.
After the companies Felix & Sarotti and Hoffmann & Tiede merged to formed Sarotti Chocoladen- und Cacao-Industrie AG in 1903, the neighbouring plot at No. 55 was bought. This had been previously the headquarters of the Kühne vinegar factory. Despite the Sarotti company expanding into the courtyard premises at No. 57, the site at Belle-Alliance-Strasse eventually proved to be too small. The factory now employed around 1800 workers and staff.
Therefore, shortly before his death, Hoffmann acquired a large new factory building in Tempelhof and the business moved there at the end of 1913. After further expansion in 1921, production ceased entirely in Kreuzberg and the site was sold. This was the year in which the company was also renamed "Sarotti AG". In 1929 the public limited company was taken over by Nestlé and sold to Stollwerck in 1998.
Incidentally, the famous Berlin photographer Willy Roemer also lived in the building. He was one of Berlins most important press photographers during the Weimar Republic.