For Elf. Grateful to have known you.
Northrhine-Westfalia – the hyphenated German state, right in the heartland of civilized Europe, shaped by its industry and high population density, by the ancient fertile soils that students learn about in geography lessons. Hardly a square meter that doesn‘t reflect history, from Neanderthal‘s prehistoric findings to Roman footprints to the landmark stucco houses of the Wilhelminian era – a land so rich that it owns the future …
…and in its midst, three holes. Garzweiler, Hambach, Inden, the lignite strip mines, after the oil crisis of the seventies ensuring cheap and reliable power for populace and industry – today, though, in the face of many alternatives, a dinosaur bound for extinction that even in its death struggle tries to sweep away what it considers his: villages and forests at the edges of the enormous mines, human fates and threatened animal species, the future of mankind itself, which may well be ended by climate turmoil.
As if under a magic cap, the destructive machinery of lignite giant RWE rages not 30 kilometers from the state parliament in Düsseldorf – hard to believe what is happening here in the middle of modern NRW, the grinding destruction of culture and nature, the utter comtempt of human life, but also the sheer political ineptitude. At the same time, the tree squatters of Hambacher Wald are a living experiment of a different way, more solidarity, less waste. With their bodies they block the path of the machines and give back hope to the people in the villages, where new resistance is budding. There is movement in the Rhenish Region, the magic cap is being lifted.
The photos on this web site show what lies beneath it – the beauty of Hambacher Wald, the creativity of its inhabitants, the growing, diverse climate justice movement, the waning, yet hoping villages, and at last the destruction through diggers and chainsaws, willingly assisted by a police that does not only do a disservice to our environment but also to our democracy. They tell a story with an open end that even now is a precious gift for everyone it touches.
About this website: The galeries are sorted in a way that allows you to avoid photos of police and destruction. „Hambach Forest“ shows the forest, the squatters and some direct action, „Movement“ sketches the resistance in forest and villages, „Villages“ shows some of what‘s still there, „TearDown“ collects photos of destruction both on a small and large scale, and „Les Bleus“ paints a picture of the role of those who are supposed „to serve and to protect“.
We‘re still working on a way to tag images, using keywords that allow you to cross-follow a certain subject through the galleries – the „Immerath Mill“ in winter, summer and on the day of its destruction, the many „infopoint“s in Hambach Forest that keep popping up again each time they are destroyed.
About myself: Barbara Schnell, freelance journalist and photographer for various German media as well as the odd English language one, translator of Diana Gabaldon‘s „Outlander“ novels – blessed with jobs that fill my heart. This website isn‘t a job, but it comes from the heart.