New landscape in Gessental at Ronneburg

© Wismut GmbH

Iris Gleicke, Parliamentary State Secretary in the Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Energy, Professor Dr Georg Unland, Finance Minister of Saxony, Heike Taubert, Finance Minister and Deputy Minister President of Thuringia, and Dr.-Ing. Stafan Mann and Rainer M. Türmer, managing directors of Wismut GmbH, signed a declaration of intent at Festung Königstein near Dresden on 20 September 2017 regarding the future handling of the “Wismut legacy”.

It is the common understanding of all parties that the comprehensive and diverse legacy of Wismut is to be preserved and made accessible. For example, it is to be made possible for a wide audience to learn about the Wismut legacy and for research to be undertaken. Last year, the Federation, the two states, and Wismut GmbH agreed to set up a joint project group for this purpose. Some initial work has been done. For example, the material legacy has been documented, the condition and the availability of the various parts assessed, and initial consideration given to how to present it, giving consideration to the interests of the relevant states and the Federation.

However, before a well-grounded, sustainable concept for implementation can be produced, input is required from interested and expert partners. For this reason, a workshop was held in Bad Schlema at the beginning of September 2017. It was attended by the Federation, Wismut GmbH, the two states and high-level representatives of scientific bodies and museums, such as the German Mining Museum in Bochum, the Haus der Geschichte, the Institute of Contemporary History in Munich, the Leibniz Association, TU Bergakademie Freiberg, the Federal Institute for Geosciences and Natural Resources in Hanover, the Bauhaus University in Weimar and the Federal Archive. All of the participating institutions agreed to work together on drawing up the implementation concept.

Parliamentary State Secretary Iris Gleike said: “By signing the declaration of intent, we and the two states have achieved an important milestone in terms of the future handling of the Wismut legacy. The fact that strong partners will be adding their signatures marks another important step towards our being able to appropriately present the history of the Wismut company, from a uranium-mining company in the GDR, to a company owned by the Federation and rehabilitating the environment.”

Professor Dr Georg Unland, Finance Minister of Saxony, added: “The Wismut legacy is more than just a major rehabilitation project which has already cost 6 billion euros of taxpayers’ money. It also offers a great deal of potential: the geological archive can help with the exploration for mineral resources, there is a unique company history which still requires a lot of study, and there are various collections. I am therefore very glad that the Federation has moved towards Saxony and Thuringia on this issue.”

Heike Taubert, Finance Minister and Deputy Minister President of Thuringia, said: “It is important for the people in Ronneburg, my home town, and the entire region that the Wismut legacy is handed appropriately. After all, the uranium ore mining impacted on the people and the landscape over many years. By preserving the Wismut legacy, we are not least paying respect to the life’s work of the many employees in the past and the present. The declaration of intent represents good progress on this.”

More information about the Wismut legacy:
The “Wismut legacy” primarily involves work on the political and cultural history of the Wismut company, its importance in terms of global history, and the geopolitical implications. The material archives include the geological archive with its collection of deposits (approx. 7,500 items), some 10,000 meters of documents and records of day-to-day life, the unique collection of art, with some 4,200 works, and a comprehensive collection of photographs and films. The legacy also includes the landscapes affected by more than 40 years of uranium ore mining and subsequent rehabilitation, such as the Gessental Valley and the “New Ronneburg Landscape” with the Schmirchauer Höhe in eastern Thuringia, Shaft 371 in Hartenstein/Saxony and the company’s headquarters in Chemnitz.