In conversation with Bernd Haase
A digitisation professional and big fan of the landscape park Johannisthal/Adlershof
If you want to immerse yourself in the history of the Science City Adlershof, make a stop at Bernd Haase’s DSC Digital Service Center. As a qualified measurement technician, he worked for East German television in the 1980s, where he took care of sound and cutting. He also preserved photographs from that time and has more than one fascinating story to tell about them. Haase lived through a series of life changes before becoming an Adlershof-based entrepreneur 13 years ago. As such, he helps to secure cultural heritage sites like the Abu Simbel rock temples in Egypt by digitising plans, notes, slides, and film. The 59-year-old collector of old cameras is still young at heart. How can we tell? It becomes quite clear when he goes out on explorations with his grandson in the landscape park Johannisthal/Adlershof.
Adlershof Journal: When was your first encounter with the Science City Adlershof?
Bernd Haase: I’ve known the area for a long time. In 1978, I started an apprenticeship as an electrician at the Central Institute for Scientific Instrument Engineering, which was part of the East German Academy of the Sciences. When I graduated two years later, I moved right next door to work as a measurement technician for the East German television company. I was briefly unemployed after reunification in 1990 but quickly found a job at a large photo lab in West Berlin. In 2007, I returned to Adlershof with my own professional photo lab and studio. Together with Lothar Muth, a photographic engineer, I started Digital Servicecenter GmbH.
What does DSC have to offer?
Two years in, we could no longer survive from passport photos and classic portrait photography. So, we started specialising on digitising analogue pictures, negatives, slides, and film.
Who are your customers?
During lockdown, many people were tidying up their attics and cellars and bringing us cine films, video cassettes, and other audio recordings and images to digitise. We do a lot of scanning, ranging from small negatives to construction plans that are several square metres large for companies, some also from Adlershof. An important and interesting pillar of our business are special orders, for example, from Berlin’s Monument Authority or the German Archaeological Institute (DAI). Most recently, we have been commissioned by the DAI to digitise sheet films and documents that were created during excavations in Uruk, Iraq. Sheet film is highly flammable, cannot be stored at over 20 degrees Celsius, and must be stored in hazardous materials cabinets. Not every scanning service provider can meet those requirements. We have helped preserve cultural heritage sites like the oasis city Palmyra (Syria) or the royal city of Meroë in Sudan.
How do you get to work?
I take the bike or walk, cutting through the landscape park Johannisthal/Adlershof. I have a convenient folding bike that I can take on the bus or the train when I go to meet customers.
Who is your role model?
I have several. Thor Heyerdahl, a Norwegian explorer and archaeologist, I was already fascinated by as a child. I built a model of his self-built float ‘Kon-Tiki’, which he used to cross the Pacific, took a picture of it, and sent the picture to Heyerdahl himself. I met him in person when he gave a talk at Humboldt-Universität here in Berlin in 1993. I’m also a big fan of the French marine researcher Jacques-Yves Cousteau and the American inventor Thomas Alva Edison.
When did you last try something new?
I enjoy reading a lot. Analogue books! I want to hold a book and turn the pages. Having said that, although I never imagined myself reading digital books, I bought an e-book reader last year. An ad in a computer magazine had made me curious. My conclusion: It was worth it.
What do you do in your spare time?
Once or twice a week, it’s grandpa day. My favourite is to take my grandson to the landscape park. There are sheep, several playgrounds, and always something new to discover. Other than that, I ride my bike a lot, also when I go on holiday. I do at least two longer bike tours every year. With my canoe, I often venture out on local bodies of water. Unsurprisingly, considering my profession, I am an avid collector, particularly of old cameras. I have 30 of them on display at the DSC, and the same amount in a glass cabinet at home. A plate camera of the Dresden-based company Firma H. Ernemann is one of my most coveted items.
What is your wish for the future?
For the photo lab, I would buy a large-format flatbed scanner. This would enable us to scan sources measuring 2.4x1.5 metres and to tap into new customers for DSC. The only thing missing is a sponsor. My personal wish: a bike trailer tour with my grandson on the Euroroute to Denmark.
Interview by Sylvia Nitschke for Adlershof Journal