I.G. Farben / Abrams Building

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Gaye Crosby Doane

2:09pm May 7

I rode the IG Farben paternoster aaaaall the way up and over with my best friend Marion Isserman 'cause we wondered if the cars turn upside down or not... And happily for us they do NOT! At the top and bottom they simply slide sideways to the other side...



Sept 2007 photo by David Teska '82


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Front Entrance Oct. 2007
                from Darl Sams '67

by Susan Erdmann to the group "Frankfurt American High School"
On the formerAbrams Complex. This is the old IG Farben Building, it now houses faculty and facilities for the University and has been named/renamed the Poelzig Building for the original architect.
Susan Erdmann  August 5, 2008
The pater nosters (one of my great childhood anxieties) still run and the cafeteria in the back has been cleaned up but is still a cafeteria/student lounge (when I was last there, nearly 3 years ago). The University placed a sort of plaque in the front entrance acknowledging the buildings WWII history (wikipedia has a good summary). The casino building - The Terrace Club - has also been restored. The buildings are truly elegant ..and complicated.
Susan Erdmann
August 7, 2008


from  Wikipedia

First built in 1884 by Londoner J. E. Hall as the Cyclic Elevator, the name paternoster ("Our Father", the first two words of the Lord's Prayer in Latin) was originally applied to the device because the elevator is in the form of a loop and is thus similar to rosary beads used as an aid in reciting prayers.

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  2007                                                               from Gary Sams '65

Darl [67] wife Janie on IG Farben elevator which is still being used today  
  Paternoster Elevator Oct. 2007               from Darl Sams '67

Paternoster (elevator) in Farben building.  Still in use.  Use to ride it just for fun in the 60's. - Darl


2012 photo from Jonathan Cable

2012 photo from Jonathan Cable
Hmm ... somebody mentioned the elevators in the IG Farben Building ... those things called "Paternoster" in German. They are still there and they still work (albeit renovated!) - too bad they were turned off the day I was there because the University was on Spring break, or I definitely would have taken them for a ride! These pictures are from April of 2012.- Jonathan Cable
From: Bruce Garner  Sent: Sun 9/13/09 10:07 PM

All, While I was searching for videos clips of 1947 Frankfurt from the DVD Berlin Express, I surfed into some good videos of the I.G. Farben Building. (Don't miss the "Höhen und tiefen" video)

From the movie: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yxFzbHTAWyY&feature=related

So padernoster, or paternoster, means "our father" -- anyone know why a cycling elevator got that name?
about 7 minutes into http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=heQlk8pP1js&feature=related 
the Terrace Club.etc.: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yNuNRwQWDzw&feature=related 

about at 2:00 minutes here http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=u4NU-Mp7gn0&NR=1

What really goes on on a Paternoster? - Very Funny/Clever!
ups and dows, Höhen und tiefen http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=H-jmVUyNoTg&feature=related
(This might not be the I.G. Farben one...)

Sent: Wed 6/02/10 6:46 AM

Hi, when I was a boy in the fifties, we used to play around Abrams Building.Sometimes US army soldiers gave us some coins, and so we went inside andicecream from an vending machine. Do you have a picture of the corridors inside Abrams building? Maybe withone of the vending machines? 
Regards, Michael

Sent: Sat 6/12/10 6:14 AM

 My grandfather worked in the 50s in a glass foundry. They had a paternoster and they said, if you are frightened pray a paternoster. But the rosary theory is still very good! ! My parents always asked me (when I at the age of 10 came home andtold them about the icecream and the paternosters) never to use it becauseit was very dangerous for children, of course. Regards, Michael

From: Philip Hilderbrand, Sent: Mon 9/14/09 4:37 AM
Those videos bring back a lot of memories. My father worked at the I. G. FARBEN building. I used to go there a lot. I was there right after the bombs went off. Thanks for posting them Philip
From: Peggy Sanchez, Sent: Sun 9/13/09 10:39 PM -- Very cool stuff! Thanks Bruce!
From: Jueri Svjagintsev Sent: Mon 9/14/09 9:55 AM - Thanks Bruce, great stuff.
Re: [fhs63-66] Padernoster‏, From: v.lesuer, Sent: Mon 9/14/09 3:33 AM To: fhs63-66@yahoogroups.com

Great footage, Bruce! It brought back many memories. I remember the paternosters very well, although they looked much more dangerous when I was there in 1961-63. I remember working there one summer with my dad. He put me to work doing general office work at the IG Farben Building....filing, light typing and such. I didn't last very long at that job...suffice to say clerical work was never my calling. I hated getting on the damn paternosters...they looked more like rickety freight elevators that should have been condemed and they used to sway back and forth. Plus, you had to be pretty nimble on your feet to jump on and off !
Vikki '63
From: Dennis V. Berwyn, Sent: Mon 9/14/09 6:12 AM

because it was so unreliable, dangerous, and you had to take a leap of faith getting on an off.....

Our Father, Who Art in Heaven.....etc

From: jona199, Sent: Mon 9/14/09 4:21 AM, To: fhs63-66@yahoogroups.com
Hi Eagles ...

Here is what I came up with after researching the name Paternoster as far as cyclic elevators are concerned ...

The name Paternoster comes from the Catholic Rosary, which is a chain of beads used for counting prayers. On a Rosary, there are 10 small beads for the Ave Marias followed by a separate one for the Our Father (in Latin "Pater Noster"). This string of beads was also called a Paternoster String, and the eleventh bead is sometimes called the Paternoster Bead, because of the corresponding prayer. In the same way as the beads on a string, on a revolving cyclic paternoster elevator, the cabins are attached to a cable. The name Paternoster seems to have been first used by coal miners to describe the underground freight and coal elevators, because to the miners, they looked like rosaries, and the name stuck!

By the way, there are still 8 of those cyclic elevators in service in the former IG Farben Building (now the Goethe Universität), all made of steel and built in 1930! In Germany, installing new paternosters in buildings was outlawed in 1974. The remaining ones can still be used and many of them have been landmarked and protected by the appropriate historical landmark authorities.

I'll post a diagram of a paternoster here in the Photos section, in case you are wondering how they actually work!

Best wishes to all and thanks, Bruce!
Jonathan '66

From: Madridct Sent: Mon 9/14/09 8:24 AM
Hi Bruce, Very interesting for this old "52 FHS guy.
Jerry "Tex" Stanley

From: Frank da Cruz Sent: Mon 9/14/09 8:12 AM

Wow, fascinating. ... The bad thing about video links is that, at least in the case of Youtube, the videos are going to disappear sooner or later and there's no way (that I know of) to make safe local copies of them. The reason the elevators are called pater noster is that they're scary (in those days they were rickety wooden contraptions), so people tend to say a little prayer before getting on them -- "pater noster" is the opening of the Lord's Prayer in Latin. Thanks, that was fun.

From: bj jernigan Sent: Mon 9/14/09 8:09 AM To: Frankfurt_HS_67-71@yahoogroups.com
Great fun! Thanks, Bruce.
My Dad worked in the Farben building - Even as a former Marine, he said it was scary the first time he rode the Pater Noster--You were supposed to say the Lord's Prayer ("Our Father Who Art in Heaven...") to insure you had the timing right to get on and off safely.
I'm sure there were many turned ankles and crunched knees--guess they didn't say the Our Father.
Dad told us the cabs turned over at the top so you had to walk "up" the walls to ride it down standing on the ceiling...!
Not true, of course, but Dad was a big jokester...
I'm sure he'd get a kick out of the Germans still calling it the Pater Noster, without knowing why. Nicknames do stick!
Barbara Jernigan '69

From: Frank da Cruz Sent: Mon 9/14/09 12:20 PM
So I see! Those images of the modern-day versions don't do justice to the original concept. As Vikki '63 pointed out (I wonder if I knew her), they were old rickety things, very picturesque but no confidence-inspiring to the novice. (Oh, and as I forgot to mention, my wonderful way with Latin comes straight from Miss Costello!)

From: John Conner Sent: Mon 9/14/09 1:44 PM
Thanks...the videos are great...my Dad was the Club Officer of the Terrace Club and spent a lot of time in both buildings I always remember when we took someone new to the IG Farben Building that we dared them to go all the way to the top because they would have to brace themselves that the Padenoster would go up side down at the top...maybe you had to say a few our fathers so you would no go up side down...John Conner...Class of 70

From: Ken2 Sent: Sat 9/26/09 2:34 PM
Hey gang:

My own little Pater Noster story...with more about Beat, Beat, Beat.

First, I only went in that building a few times the tree years we lived in Frankfurt. And that was all on the third year. First time, ...it was my first time riding, or even seeing anything like the Pater Noster. I remember it being a bit tight inside...pretty novel, I thought. Also, I didn't know its name at the time. Sounds reasonable, it was a little scary the first time.

At the time, my Step-mother was the office manager at the Terrace Club, so I was there and in the IG Farben Bldg on several occasions. I always found a reason to sneak over to ride that thing. One time was when "Freddie and the Dreamers" played for the Beat Beat Beat program. I thought patent leather shoes were the bomb! Shows we have great taste at the age of 17. She went with me to a department store downtown and I bought a new gray Nehru collared herringbone suit for the show - used my hard earned cash from bagging groceries at the commissary. I looked more German that night than a brat. Not exactly the styles that were popular with my classmates at the time, but I could have cared less. I thought it looked like something the Beatles would wear...and I was all over it. Just wish I could have had the shoes to go with it....

So that's it...nice memories.    Cheers, Ken
Brian Hipps I always called it the I.G. Farben building. My dad's office was there. I wonder if the Bush family played a role in preventing US forces from leveling the place? :-) 5-7-11
Terrace Club/Officer's Club/Casino - tbd
John Conner My dad managed the Terrace Club overlooking I.G. Far en...remember those great people movers...we use to tell the new to Franfurt kids that if you road it to the top it would turn up side down so you had to brace yourself against the sides!   - 5-7-11
Ex US HQ - Abrams Building #1/2
Ex US HQ - Abrams Building #2/2
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