trains are stuck in the metre-high snowdrifts, apartments remain cold, holdings are hazards, conveyor belts to a standstill, animals perish in the bitter cold. Also people, you will learn later, lose your life.

cold snap came out of the blue

In the brown coal mines, from which the blood of the GDR-industry flows, it rolls it – in spite of everything. “This cold snap came to us out of the blue,” recalls Bergmann, Gerhard cedar, then pipe fitters in the Bitterfeld area and 35 years old.

“But that didn’t blew us away. Every Winter, had the same Problem: in the cars frozen to the coal. But we had always support soldiers and peasants from the LPG, you have to say. Sometimes up to 600! And partly we also had vehicles. The coal had to run more. No matter what it is.“ And this time, thousands of NVA soldiers received the marching order in all the mines of the GDR, to save muscle power for the power supply. Not least, the open pit are great devices themselves are real power hogs.

The first few weeks of the year in 1979, are especially hard in the days

to build the work in the pit Is a walk in the Park will never be a sugar, this weeks up in the February 1979 for the men out there are hard weeks. And a long, cold time. The coal itself, says cedar, is not the Problem, the is soft, for the excavator is easy to grip. But the overburden above the seam, the frozen and hard as stone. Sometimes explosives ran or caustic soda, so that the soil is loose. And much more and always reliable of the transportation of the raw material to the power plants, where it is to Gold, to electricity and to steam is – as a Problem.

Long ago, namely the chunks in the wagons, to stay in front of frozen switches and signals are frozen. “With a crowbar, the coal was struck out,” he says. “People have really worked. It was not a beautiful work.“ And so enormous, the expense is also too little coal in the throat of the Furnaces. Power plants work at full steam. At times it will Zap in the whole of the GDR duster, power is all.

Gerhard cedar itself has to make with his colleagues to ensure that the pipes, through which the surface water drains in the pit, stay permeable. The are free in the icy Wind. The tugs in the freezing cold and also the people who are working under the open sky. Packed in cotton jackets and the good old puzzle mug will keep your feet reasonably warm.

To the thawing of the pipes, a special method is applied

it was A cotton pants? The cedar laughs. “No one’s attracted to. Since you couldn’t move you.“ The men are clever. To thaw the pipes, you have a method of your own: A Tractor pulling a burning car tyres behind and departs with his hot load to the frozen pipe. Black Smoke envelops you, it stinks to high heaven.

“we haven’t noticed even,” he says and waves his hand dismissively. “When a line is first again on the Run, you go. it’s Really crap, when a valve burst or a well head to freeze.” Fixed working hours – it is now a foreign word. “As it went through the night. Had to, Yes.“

call for help from the Lausitz, to save Stripping the bridge

A call for help comes from Nochten in the Lausitz. “They were always skilled difficulties with the drainage,” explains cedar. Six people from Bitterfeld to make on the way to rescue, a spoil bridge. “If this thing comes to a stop, not at all,” he says. “Because you don’t get Yes to the money. In the Winter, it has lived so sometimes Hand-to-mouth.“ In Bitterfeld, however, he says, the miners of coal often, as a precaution, with a view to a severe Winter and the overburden, which is then freeze to stone.

However, this Winter is not in Zeders reminder as the winter of the Century: “From my point of view was the 1971 worse.” Three kilometers of pipeline have been frozen at minus 25 degrees, and wheezing easterly winds in a single night in the pit. Tubes must be dismantled and the shaft 5 in Döbern transported. “Who were hanged in the shaft. The warm air has thawed. I hear the chunks of ice rumbling. The might have crashed,“ he recalls.


This article by Christine Färber

*The contribution of “century, the winter of 1978/79: A miner remembers the fight against the Frost and snow” is written by Central German newspaper. There is no editorial review by FOCUS Online. Contact with the executives here.

Central German newspaper


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here