Otzenrath - last house standing

Otzenrath – Swallowed by Surface Mining

Industrialisation changed everything. By 1985 people learned that they had to leave their homes. Rheinbraun, a leading mining company, wanted to excavate lignite under their homes. Of course, people protested but in 2000  relocation started. 1816 inhabitants of Otzenrath had to move. The living and the dead. Just before the excavaters came, my friends and I visited the almost uninhabited village (january 2007). Most of the houses were demolished, the graves were empty, the trees were chopped. From many sites we could see the towers of the huge mining excavators.

The village of (Old)Otzenrath once belongt to the city of Jüchen in North-Rhine Westphalia. It was first documented in 11. century. In that time people did not know that they had build their homes on lignite. It wasn’t important anyway. People lived on agriculture and later on production of textiles and yarns.