Völklinger Hütte

Built: 1873

Abandoned: 1986

Visited: 2011

Völklingen, Germany

In 1873 Julius Buch, an iron and steel engineer, builds an ironworks near Völklingen. Six years later however, the works are closed. The Saarbrücken businessman Carl Röchling buys the closed works in 1881. In 1883 the first blast furnace goes into operation. The Ironworks in Völklingen becomes the biggest steel girder producer in the German Empire.

Sintering technology offers the opportunity to recycle waste products from the smelting processes. One of the most modern sintering plants in Europe is built in 1928, one of the biggest at that time. Materials with a grain size that is too fine for use in the blast furnaces at 1300°C are heated to form a sinter cake in the sinter plant and then broken into the correct size pieces.

Foreign workers

During the Second World War thousands of men and women are employed at the Völklinger Works, especially from Russia, Italy, the Netherlands, Belgium and Luxembourg. Many are victims of the excessively hard labour and bad conditions at the ironworks. At the end of the war the ironworks goes back into operation under French management. In 1965, more than 17,000 people work at the Völklinger Hütte. The highest number of employees in the history of the works is reached.

In the 1970s the Ironworks is affected by the worldwide steel crisis. In 1986 the Völklinger Hütte blast furnaces are shut down. A new phase begins in the history of the ironworks when the Völklinger Hütte is granted a place as the first industrial monument on the Unesco World Cultural Heritage Site List. It is the only surviving ironworks in the world from the heyday of iron and steel production and a unique testimony to an industrial epoch of the past.

Photos Völklinger Hütte

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