THE ABANDONED IRON WORKS IN GERMANY
The Völklinger Hütte is a former ironworks founded in 1873 in the Saarland town of Völklingen. It was shut down in 1986 and became an UNESCO monument in 1994.
In 1873 Julius Buch, an iron and steel engineer, planned an ironworks near Völklingen. However, this planned work was not completed. 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 iron producer in the German Empire.
During the Second World War thousands of men and women are employed at the Völklinger Works. Especially workers 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. I took these photos in 2011.