To see, hear, touch, and feel: entering the former Knappenrode briquette factory means to explore 100 years of Lusatian industrial history with all your senses. The visit starts by climbing the 22-metre open staircase. From up there, the panoramic view reveals a landscape where former open-cast lignite mines have been transformed into attractive lakes. In the museum itself, visitors breathe the smell of pressed briquettes as if the final shift only ended yesterday. The tour of the machine rooms, blackened by coal dust, extends over seven floors and brings former workers' everyday routine to life in touching video interviews. Historical machines dating from 1918 onwards showcase the skills of 20th century engineers and technicians. This is particularly true of the three steam turbines in the power station: they range from the days of the German Empire to the 1950s and provided the power to run the entire briquette plant until 1993, when it was shut down. How coal as a raw material made its way into the factory is illustrated by the extensive outdoor area, which offers adventure and fun for young visitors too, with interactive activities, a maze and a tube slide.
Swamps, heath, pine woods: this was Lusatia around 1850. Lignite turned everything upside down - railway lines, open-cast mines and briquette factories dotted the plain. One of these briquette mills was established in 1914 by the Prussian tycoon Joseph Werminghoff near Hoyerswerda. It became operational in October 1918, followed shortly afterwards by two annexes with state-of-the-art technology. The new plant attracted people from mining areas in the Czech Republic, Poland and Germany, with the Eintracht Company taking care of them by building the Werminghoff works housing estate right in front of the factory gates. Department store, restaurant, community centre and railway station: the company arranged everything and took hold of the essence and rhythm of life. Even the soil that people were buried in belonged to the company.
After the Second World War, most of the technical equipment became the subject of Russian reparations claims. But as early as May 1948 the first briquette press was back in operation. The factory changed its name to Glückauf and the housing estate, which had grown over the years, became known as Knappenrode. In 1965 the plant had its maximum annual output of more than one and a half million tonnes of briquettes. However, the machines became increasingly outdated and persistent supply shortages of spare parts turned the factory into a museum while it was still in operation. Today this proves to be a lucky coincidence because in 1993, with the last shift ending its service, the workers left behind an almost seamless series of historical briquette-making technology which is unrivalled in Europe. Nowadays the carefully restored factory complex has been turned into an impressive and diverse industrial museum. Taking a journey back in time, visitors playfully explore the region's industrial, social and ecological process of change: from the Sorbian heathland villages and the lignite boom in the 20th century to the formation of the Lusatian Lake District and current issues relating to the energy revolution.
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Tuesday - Sunday 10am-6pm