Rohne – the things you can’t take along

Vor dem Spaziergangs gegen Abbaggerung unterhält sich Edith Penk vor dem Bahnhof von Schleife mit einem Kamerateam und Menschen aus Rohne
Before the „Walk against the deomolition“ Edith Penk talks to a camera team ant to people from Rohne infront of the train station of Schleife

During the „Walk against the demolition“ I only had the chance for a short talk with the people from Rohne, so I wanted to come there again. Edith Penk had invited me to show me the nature and landcape that will also have to give way like the people and their villages for the expansion of the open pit mining. „If you add it up the open pit mining has already destroyed 17 000 hectares of our beautiful country“, the pensioner Edith Penk tells me, „the area called „Pückler’s Jagdpark“ was full of old trees, old beeches, old oaks, pines, spruces, larches, tilia, ash trees, all kinds you can think of. Some of them were 400 years old.“ Of places like the meadow of Count Pückler’s hunting lodge and the fairy tale lake, that she told me about, I could only see deforested areas. For the amphibians of the fairy tale lake a few trees had been left for one more season, looking like a deserted island in a vast sea of deforested land. When the amphibians have left again the remaining trees will be cut down and chopped up because this area has already been approved for mining in 1994 and is now being deforested and prepared for open pit mining. Count Pückler’s hunting grounds and the natural reserve „Weisswasser primeval forest“ are history. Edith Penk and her son Christian try to save some of the rare plants by finding and marking them so they can be replanted. „You can get a licence to mark plants, that should be saved, but only in some areas and usally not until it is almost too late“, says Edith Penk, „it is prohibited by law to dig out a protected plant, but it is not prohibited that excavators and harvesters roll over protected plants.“

To the interview with Edith Penk

Die Fläche rund um den "Märchensee" im bereits 1994 genehmigten Abbaugebiet ist schon gerodet
The grounds around the „Fairy tale lake“ had already been approved for mining in 1994 and are now almost deforested

Besides the plants, that can only be replanted on a very small scale, there are also the buildings of different historical construction styles and the Sorbian field names are things that people can’t take along when they have to move. The „Vierseitenhöfe“ (four side farmhouses) are part of the typical architecture of the area. Ingo Schuster and his wife Antje live in such a house. Since 2001 Ingo Schuster put in a lot of work to renovate his „Vierseitenhof“ togehter with friends and family, like his father and grandfather had done, who had to give up their farms for mining already decades ago. „The ‘Vierseitenhof’, this style with four buildings including a barn, you can’t rebuild that elsewhere“, says Ingo Schuster, „the Saxonian building law makes it impossible. Unless you are a farmer you have no right to rebuild it like that. You won’t get the permission.“ The amount of time and work he put into his home made him very attached to this place. Some of the other people in Rohne, who did not renovate their houses, are happy to get a new house for a run-down old one. A conflict of interests has grown between those who hope for advandtages from relocation and those who want to keep their own homes. Ingo Schuster wants to stay and he plants new fruit trees along his driveway where a week ago the speeches of rally „Structural change now – stop Nochten II“ had been held.

To the interview with Ingo Schuster

Ingo Schuster pflanzt einen neuen Apfelbaum auf seinem Hof
Ingo Schuster plants apple trees along his driveway.

The alliance „Structural change now – stop Nochten II“ exists since the spring of 2013. Friederike Böttcher co-founded it after she got aware of the lack of civic participation in the inquiries procedure and the low level of cooperation between the different social groups in the reagion. They want to stop the expansion of the Nochten II open pit mining, but as the name implies they also address the underlying problem. Lusatia is an economically underdeveloped region with a high unemployment rate and low incomes. „The problem is that the thought of the finiteness of coal has not reached the people yet or more likely is conciously ignored. Even if the Nochten II pit is opened coal will last until the 2060s“, Friederike Böttcher explains, „but then at the latest the coal in the area will be depleted and the question will arise what is the future of Lusatia? Therefore we think, why should we wait that long? We ant to start now to develop perspectives for the future of Lusatia. We want that 50 years from now there will still be young people living here, who are dedicated to their region and find it is worth living here.“

To the interview with Friederike Böttcher

Friederike Böttcher beim Spaziergang gegen Abbaggerung
Friederike Böttcher at the „Walk against the demolition“