Meuselwitz-Altenburg lignite mining area

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The Meuselwitz-Altenburger lignite district , also called Meuselwitz-Rositzer lignite district , is the southernmost mining area of ​​the Central German lignite district . It is located in the north of the Altenburger Land in the far east of Thuringia .


Most of the Meuselwitz-Altenburger lignite district is located in the northwest of the Altenburger Land district in Thuringia with the city of Meuselwitz as its center. In the west, the locality of Spora in the Burgenlandkreis (Saxony-Anhalt) belongs to the municipality of Elsteraue . The lignite area lies in the transition from the Leipzig lowland bay to the Altenburg-Zeitzer loess hill country . The most important river in the area is the Schnauder . Larger forest areas are the Luckaer Forst and the Kammerforst, some of which had to give way to opencast mines. In the remaining open pit holes, u. a. the Haselbacher See , the Restloch Zechau , the Penkwitzer See (Restloch Spora), the Hainbergsee Meuselwitz , the Prößdorfer See and the Rusendorfer See .

Geology and production figures


Geologically, the Meuselwitz-Altenburg brown coal district belongs to the Weißelster Basin . It is in its southernmost area. The following four lignite seams were mined:

  • Böhlener Oberflöz (IV)
  • Thuringian main seam (seam III) in the south of Altenburg and in the core area of ​​Meuselwitz / Rositz, 7 to 15 m thick
  • Borna main seam (seam II)
  • Saxon-Thuringian sub-seam (seam I) in the north near Haselbach on the border with Saxony.

The special feature of the seam is that it enters flat in a northerly direction. Seam swellings of 20 m to 30 m sometimes occur in the area of ​​basin layers (Haselbach and Schleenhain opencast mines). While the main seam was up to 22 m thick, it was covered by a cover layer between 40 and 55 m thick.

Funding figures

year Raw coal production per year
1864 80,959 tons
1876 750,000 tons
1895 4.5 million tons
1898 5.0 million tons
1914 to 1918 6.5 million tons
1919 6.6 million tons
1928 10.3 million tons
1950 37 million tons (with Borna district)
1957 57 million tons (with Borna district)

During the 300-year period of lignite mining in Altenburger Land, a total of 126 million tonnes of raw lignite were extracted. Between 1800 and 1977 there were around 480 million tons of coal, of which approx. 130 million tons are accounted for by civil lignite mining and around 350 million tons in open-cast mining. With a coal-overburden ratio between 1: 3 and 1: 5, another 1.2 billion t of moving overburden can be assumed for the open pit mine. The mean calorific value of lignite is between 22.2 and 25.1 MJ / kg (= 5300-6000 kcal / kg).


17th and 18th centuries

In the 17th century there is the first documentary evidence of lignite mining in Altenburger Land. The Altenburg city ​​physician Dr. Matthias Zacharias Pilling found “burning earth” northwest of Rositz around 1671/72 , which he then described in a treatise. The first shafts for brown coal mining were sunk in 1671 in what is now Meuselwitz's urban area . In addition to the coal, which is heavily saturated with sulfur, sulfur vitriol and alum should also be extracted from the upper seam . As early as 1677, the first mine in Meuselwitz closed again due to a lack of acceptance of the coal extracted for combustion and a lack of mining experience. The population and the owners of the manor in Meuselwitz were also hostile to mining.

In 1739 the first production of handstones for the fuel supply of households began in a brown coal mine in the city of Altenburg. Based on the supporting legislation in the Duchy of Saxony-Gotha-Altenburg , Dr. Polster from Waldenburg in 1776 to search for hard coal . The mining ultimately failed due to the ingress of water and the lack of demand in the then agricultural region. Likewise, the pits opened in Meuselwitz and Rositz since 1804 and 1806 due to the rise in the price of firewood were soon abandoned. The first mining period between 1670 and 1806 did not take place as mining in the sense of mining, but in occasional and unproductive excavations at the edge of the extinguishing lignite seam.

19th century

Due to the massive exploitation and deforestation of the forests as well as the increase in population, the prices of firewood rose in the early 19th century, which caused the number of lignite mines near Meuselwitz and Rositz to grow. The first real mining of coal started around 1838 by farmers who dug lignite as a sideline by hand in 37 opencast mines and 19 underground mines on their land. Due to the groundwater entering after sinking and a lack of mining knowledge, these were in some cases only moderately economical. Due to the haphazard extraction, only about 30% of the deposits were used. If the coal could not be sold as lump coal, it was shaped into bricks using the wet stone process. From the middle of the 19th century, lignite was mined in the Meuselwitz-Altenburg district using civil engineering. 42 old shafts could be verified. In 1865, the mining inspector Wohlfarth issued legal provisions to ensure the safety and orderly mining of coal in the now 82 pits in the Meuselwitz-Rositzer Revier. 77 of them were located in the area of ​​the Duchy of Saxony-Altenburg and five in the neighboring Prussian territory.

The development of lignite mining in Altenburger Land only began to develop better after the coal mines were taken over by financially strong stock corporations in the period from 1865 to 1871. While the mining company "Progress" was founded in 1858, between 1871 and 1881 13 joint-stock companies were set up in the Meuselwitz-Rositzer Revier to support the construction of large shafts and briquette factories. This resulted in a massive immigration of workers and increased lignite production from 80,959 t in 1864 with 217 employees to an annual output of around 750,000 t in 1876.

In 1873 the “Germania” briquette factory opened in Rositz, which replaced wet stone production with the introduction of briquette presses. Further briquette factories followed, in which between 40,000 and 60,000 briquettes could be pressed every day. The longest-running lignite underground mining pit No. 113 began operations in 1875. It was only discontinued in 1957.

After the end of the Franco-Prussian War in 1871 and the associated reparation payments to the German Reich, lignite mining in Altenburger Land experienced an upswing, particularly through the Altenburg – Meuselwitz – Zeitz railway line, which opened in 1872 , as new sales markets could be opened up with the railway. Other railway lines, some of which were specifically used to transport coal and deliver to large urban customers, were the Gaschwitz – Meuselwitz railway line opened in 1874 , the Meuselwitz – Ronneburg railway line opened in 1887 and the Altenburg – Langenleuba-Oberhain railway line opened in 1901 and the Gera-Pforten – Wuitz line -Mumsdorf .

Due to the economic upswing, the following companies were founded in Meuselwitz during this time:

  • 1871: Otto shaft, Friedensgrube, Grube Ernst and the Prehlitzer Braunkohlen AG, Mariengrube
  • 1872: Union mine near Kriebitzsch , Schenkenschacht, Bruderzeche, Agnes mine and Ida-Schacht
  • 1873: Kiefernschacht, Wilhelm- and Alfredschacht, Rositzer brown coal works

The numerous new foundations brought an increase in the production figures in the entire area by 750,000 t in 1876. After this period of upswing, the economic crisis that began in the German Empire since 1873 also reached the lignite mining in Altenburger Land, which resulted in the bankruptcy of various companies and the layoff of workers went along. This resulted in a concentration and centralization of coal mining and processing. Since other industrial companies increasingly switched to briquette firing, lignite mining experienced a new period of boom from 1890 onwards, which was reflected in the establishment of several large companies and stock corporations. In Prussian territory these were, for example, the Fürst-Bismarck-GmbH and the Braunkohlenwerke Leonhard-AG as well as in the Duchy of Saxony-Altenburg the Heureka mine, the Phönix-AG, the Kraft I mine and the Herzog-Ernst mine. On the other hand, the majority of small businesses and agricultural ancillary businesses perished or became part of large companies. In 1895, 4.5 million t of coal were already being mined in the Meuselwitz-Rositzer district and three years later the annual output of 5 million t was exceeded.

First half of the 20th century

From 1900 on, technical progress and the formation of more financially strong companies made it possible to mine lignite on an industrial scale. The transition to train mining made it possible to mine in large-scale open-cast mining, in addition to the multi-level underground mining that continues. Between 1903 and 1913, a total of seven opencast mines were opened in the region. In Haselbach , the mining of brown coal in the fields initially failed in the 19th century. In 1909, the “Duchess Adelheid” coal recovery company opened up the small underground excavation pit 141 and built the Adelheid briquette factory. After civil engineering had to be given up again in 1911 due to water ingress, the small opencast mines Adelheid I and II were opened up.

The mine operators in the Borna-Leipzig , Zeitz-Weißenfels and Meuselwitz-Rositz districts agreed in 1909 to found the Central German Brown Coal Syndicate . As a result, the three monopolistic associations of different characters that had existed until then were eliminated. On the other hand, the syndicate largely intervened in the independence of the affiliated plants. So were z. For example, the production quantities are stipulated, the acceptance of orders is prohibited and their transfer to the syndicate is required, which is solely responsible for selling the coal. In return, the syndicate guaranteed high sales prices.

The increase in lignite mining continued to increase steadily at the beginning of the 20th century. This had u. a. its reasons in the use in the chemical industry as well as in the increased energy requirements of armaments and war production after the outbreak of the First World War . During the war, coal production was 6.5 million tons per year. With Deutsche Erdöl-AG , the first carbochemical operation of large-scale industry was established in the Rositz area in 1917.

Even after the World War, the importance of the raw material lignite increased unabated. Due to the separation of Alsace-Lorraine and parts of Upper Silesia as well as the occupation of the Saarland and the demands imposed on the German Reich by the Versailles Treaty, industry lacked important raw material suppliers. As a result, the production in the Meuselwitz-Rositzer district was considerably expanded and rose from 6.6 million t to 10.3 million t from 1919 to 1928. However, the number of opencast and underground mining operations continued to decline over the same period. In 1921 there were still 20 lignite companies with 8,631 employees in the area. From 1920 onwards, second generation briquette factories were built in combination with industrial power plants. During the Weimar Republic , the process of monopoly progressed. Around 85% of the mining in the area was controlled in 1928 by the brothers Ignaz and Julius Petschek , who held the majority of shares in most of Meuselwitz's large companies, and Deutsche Erdöl-AG . Hundreds of miners lost their jobs as a result of the global economic crisis in 1929, and the Herzog Ernst, Mariengrube, Gertrud, Vereinsglück I and Heureka mines were closed at short notice. The Adelheid II opencast mine in Haselbach ran out of business in 1927. It was dumped with overburden from the Regis opencast mine , which now supplied the Adelheid briquette factory with the necessary raw coal.

Due to the increased energy requirements of armaments and war production, the mining operations, power plants and briquette factories came out of the valley from the mid-30s and ran at full speed. Another growth factor was the growing demand for raw lignite in the chemical industry. In the 1930s and 1940s, lignite mining in the Meuselwitz-Rositzer Revier experienced a second wave of exploration, in which another seven open-cast mines began their work. After the Meuselwitz – Haselbach – Regis-Breitingen coal railway went into operation in June 1942, the extracted lignite could be transported by train from the Waltersdorf and later Gröba opencast mines, which are connected to one another in the rail network, to the briquette factories in Regis-Breitingen and Haselbach .

During the Second World War eight camps for forced laborers were set up in and around Rositz (Rositz I – VI, Untermolbitz and Schelditz ), in which more than a thousand forced laborers had to work. a. for Deutsche Erdöl AG (DEA) and for the Rositzer coal works . In Meuselwitz there were camps Meuselwitz I – III and V, in which a large number of prisoners of war and forced laborers were housed. a. had to do forced labor in the “Phönix” mine in Mumsdorf .

In the years 1944 and 1945 the northwestern Altenburger Land around Meuselwitz and Rositz was the target of numerous air raids by the Allies. For example, on August 16, 1944, the Deutsche Erdoel-Actiengesellschaft (DEA) was badly hit, so that around 70 percent of the plant was destroyed. Another bomb attack on the plant took place on February 14, 1945. Meuselwitz was u. a. on November 30, 1944 (US Air Force) and on November 19/20. Bombed February 1945 (British Bomber Command). As a result of the major attack on February 20, 1945, the main magazine of the Zipsendorf III briquette factory (Fürst Bismarck mine) and the colliery were completely destroyed and the boiler house was badly damaged.

Second half of the 20th century

Due to the war-related destruction, production in almost all lignite plants initially came to a standstill after the Second World War . After the Soviet occupation forces entered Altenburger Land in July 1945, they took measures to expropriate the Nazi and war criminals. All businesses were confiscated and, with the exception of the entrepreneurs remaining in the Soviet joint-stock company, handed over to the state and provincial administrations. They were thus transferred to public property. In 1947, due to the extremely long frost in the winter of 1947, the poor condition of the conveyor systems, the lack of dismantled systems and the lack of supplies for the miners in the area, lignite production fell almost 1/4 and briquette production almost 1/3 below the production level of the previous year back. Some pits, u. a. the Schäde and progress mines in Meuselwitz and the Marie II mine in Wintersdorf (1945), the Phönix-Hemmendorf mine (1952) and Zipsendorf-West (1952) closed during this period due to carbonization.

From 1948/49 a considerable expansion of the lignite mining began in the Meuselwitz-Altenburger Revier through the re-opening of extensive large open-cast mines. These included the opencast mines Phönix-Ost (as early as 1940), Ruppersdorf (as early as 1944), Blumroda (1948), Zipsendorf- Süd (1948) and Schleenhain (1949). The Haselbach opencast mine was opened in 1955 as a replacement for the Blumroda opencast mine, which was flooded by the Pleisse flood in 1954. Due to the progressive mining, the Lucka Forest, the Kammerforst and eight towns completely or partially disappeared between 1928 and 1960. The first place was Rusendorf north of Meuselwitz between 1928 and 1933 through the open-cast mine Phönix- Falkenhain . It followed around 1940 in Oberhaide west of Mumsdorf on Prussian territory (through the Zipsendorf-West opencast mine). The Zechau opencast mine, southeast of Meuselwitz, destroyed Petsa around 1945 and Leesen between 1950 and 1952 . The original Saxon and since 1952 circle Borna related Ruppersdorf northeast of Meuselwitz was excavated from 1954 to 1957 by the same open pit Ruppersdorf. In this context, the corridor of the place with the surviving district Bosengröba was incorporated into Wintersdorf in the Altenburg district. The towns of Wuitz and Sabissa , west of Zipsendorf in the Zeitz district , disappeared between 1954 and 1956 due to the Zipsendorf-Süd opencast mine. As the last place, Schnauderhainichen, northeast of Meuselwitz , lost part of its area in 1959/60 due to the Phoenix-Ost opencast mine.

The mining operations of the Meuselwitz-Altenburger Revier merged around 1948 to form VVB Borna and Meuselwitz, based in Altenburg. In 1948 the Meuselwitzer Vereinigung comprised twelve brown coal works and 11,820 employees, the Bornaer nine works with 7,345 employees. With 37 million t of raw lignite in 1950 and 57 million t in 1957, the combined Borna-Meuselwitz mining area produced more than a quarter of the GDR's total lignite production . Since the 1960s, lignite production has declined due to declining coal deposits. After the closure of the Ruppersdorf (1957), Zechau (1959), Phönix-Ost (1963), Zipsendorf-Süd (1964) opencast mines, only the Phönix-Nord opencast mines (until 1968) and Haselbach (until 1977) opened in the area. . The operations still existing at that time were subordinated to the VEB lignite combine Bitterfeld . The last underground pit, the Eugen shaft in Großröda, was closed in 1960.

With the closure of the Phönix-Nord opencast mine in 1968 and the Haselbach opencast mine in 1977, which is part of the Leipzig-Borna district, lignite mining in the Altenburger Land ended exactly after 300 years. During this time, a total of 126 million t of raw lignite was extracted. However, there were still stocks of lignite that could be mined, which the government of the GDR declared as a state reserve. In the 1980s there were plans to resume active mining in the Altenburg-Meuselwitz area. Two opencast mines were to be opened for which preliminary studies were already available. The " Spora opencast mine" was planned between Oelsen and Nißma west of Meuselwitz and the "Meuselwitz opencast mine " between Meuselwitz in the northwest and Rositz in the southeast. As a result, a large part of the municipal areas of Meuselwitz, Kriebitzsch and Rositz including numerous districts would have disappeared from the map.

While lignite mining in the Altenburger Land was stopped in the 1970s, the briquette factories and power plants remained in operation at several locations until 1990/91. In 1989 there were still five briquette factories at the former lignite mining sites in the Meuselwitz-Altenburger Revier, which were supplied with raw lignite from the neighboring mining area south of Leipzig via an extensive network of mine railways .

Situation from 1990

With the political changes in the GDR and German reunification in 1989/90 accompanying economic change and the resulting increase in demand for fuel alternatives led to a drastic decline in the brown coal needs, which led in once again Thuringia Altenburger Land for rapid closure of the largely worn factories. The sulfur-rich Central German lignite produced by the deposit found difficult buyers in the briquette sector after 1990. Thanks to the development of the additive briquette in 1994, an admixture of anthracite (hard coal) and lime to improve the burning properties and the binding of pollutants in the ash, the briquette production could only be sustained for a short time.

The briquette factories that existed after 1990 were gradually closed by MIBRAG (Mitteldeutsche Braunkohlen Aktien Gesellschaft), which emerged from the VEB Braunkohlenkombinat Bitterfeld. The last one to close was the “Phönix” briquette factory in June 2000. It was supplied with raw coal from the Profen opencast mine and produced the additive briquettes right up to the end. The Mumsdorf finishing location operated by MIBRAG was closed in 2013. The rehabilitation of the post-mining landscape , which u. a. The Lausitzer und Mitteldeutsche Bergbau-Verwaltungsgesellschaft mbH (LMBV) took over the demolition of the numerous factories and the dismantling of the disused mine railways. The coal railway Meuselwitz – Haselbach – Regis-Breitingen has been looked after by the “Verein Kohlenbahn eV” since 1996 and operated as a museum railway. In the remaining open pit holes, u. a. the Haselbacher See , the Restloch Zechau , the Penkwitzer See (Restloch Spora), the Hainbergsee Meuselwitz , the Prößdorfer See and the Rusendorfer See .

Opencast mines and underground pits and refining plants in the Meuselwitz-Altenburg lignite district

Underground pits

Please refer
List of underground pits in the Meuselwitz-Altenburg brown coal district

Opencast mines

Please refer
List of lignite opencast mines in the Meuselwitz-Altenburg lignite district

Finishing plants

Please refer
List of lignite refining plants in the Meuselwitz-Altenburger lignite district



Devastated localities

places Year of relocation / devastation Residents Open pit
Rusendorf 1928-1933 150 Phoenix Falcon Grove
Oberhaide around 1940 30th Zipsendorf-West
Petsa 1945 350 Zechau
Reading 1950-1952 1310 Zechau
Ruppersdorf 1948, 1954-1957 210 Ruppersdorf
Joke 1954-1956 644 Zipsendorf-South
Sabissa 1955-1956 338 Zipsendorf-South
Schnauderhainichen (partial demolition) 1959-1960 110 Phoenix East

A total of 3142 people were resettled through lignite opencast mines in the Meuselwitz-Altenburger Revier.

Places designated for devastation

The following locations were located in the mining area of ​​the Meuselwitz and Spora opencast mines planned in the 1980s. Because the two opencast mines had not been explored, they were spared demolition.

Meuselwitz opencast mine
Spora opencast mine

Web links

Individual evidence

  1. Railway nostalgia - Haselbach coal railway  ( page no longer available , search in web archivesInfo: The link was automatically marked as defective. Please check the link according to the instructions and then remove this notice. . Retrieved January 6, 2010@1@ 2Template: Toter Link /  
  2. Thuringian Association of the Persecuted of the Nazi Regime - Association of Antifascists and Study Group of German Resistance 1933–1945 (ed.): Heimatgeschichtlicher Wegweiser to places of resistance and persecution 1933–1945, series: Heimatgeschichtliche Wegweiser Volume 8 Thüringen, Erfurt 2003, p. 24f ., ISBN 3-88864-343-0
  3. ^ Günter Sagan: East Thuringia in the bombing war 1939-1945 . Michael-Imhof-Verlag, Petersberg 2013. pp. 83-88, 101-105, 182. ISBN 978-3-86568-636-7

Coordinates: 51 ° 4 ′ 2 "  N , 12 ° 17 ′ 36.3"  E