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Thale

 

The Saxony-Anhalt city of Thale is located on the northern edge of the Harz Mountains. Thale is known for the spectacular transition of the Bodetal from the Harz Mountains to the foreland with the rocky cliffs Hexentanzplatz and Roßtrappe.

Thale lies in an impressive landscape at the foot of the Harz Mountains on both sides of the Bode, which rise directly from the foreland on its northern edge with a height difference of several hundred meters. The city with today almost 20,000 inhabitants (with incorporations) benefited from its location on the Bode, which comes from the Harz with a steep slope in a canyon-like deep valley. It has been able to supply ironworks with energy since the Middle Ages and gave the city a landscape that had been discovered since the Romantic era. Thale has been a much-visited resort and industrial city since the 19th century. Before the First World War, the ironworks were the world's largest producer of enamel goods.

As a result of incorporation, the towns of Allrode, Altenbrak, Friedrichsbrunn, Neinstedt, Stecklenberg, Treseburg, Warnstedt, Weddersleben and Westerhausen, which are partly in the Harz Mountains and partly in the foreland, are administratively part of Thale.

 

Culture and sights

Museums

Thale Hut Museum

The Thale Hüttenmuseum was founded in 1986 for the 300th anniversary of the Thale ironworks. Since July 1, 1998, the museum has been sponsored by the History and Hüttenmuseumsverein Thale am Harz e. V. It shows the development of iron smelting and iron processing using the example of the Thalenser factory from the tin works in 1686 to the large industrial enterprise of the 20th century. The museum is located at the entrance to the Bodetal, about three minutes from Thale's main train station. The museum is located at Walter-Rathenau-Straße 1 in the former residential building of the hut owner Johann Carl Benninghausen and was brought into its present form through renovations. To the west of the entrance is the Thale hut chapel, which is used as a museum gallery.

exhibition
The museum shows the historical and social development of the company and its employees from 1686 to the recent past. Particularly noteworthy are the processes of smelting and subsequent processing of the iron, which are illustrated using models such as the racing furnace, high furnace and fresh fire.

Special historical aspects and moments of the Thale iron and steel works are highlighted here. For example, the following points should be mentioned here: In 1831 Germany's first wrought-iron wagon axle was manufactured in Thale. In 1835, the first enamelling factory in Europe was built, which around 1910 produced ten percent of the world's enamel dishes. The industrial revolution can be illustrated by several points: the railway connection in the direction of Quedlinburg, Magdeburg and Berlin in 1862, the use of the first steam engines in 1868 and the establishment of the stock corporation in 1872. This led to rapid growth in the plant and the number of employees at the Thale site. As a result of industrialization, Thale was granted city rights in 1922.

After the Second World War, during which the factory suffered no war damage, although it had a monopoly on steel helmets from 1934 onwards, the main production branches were the steelworks, rolling mills, enamelling works, container and apparatus construction (from which the company THALETEC emerged in 2007 ) and powder metallurgy. One of the main shareholders of the plant was the Cologne entrepreneur Albert Ottenheimer until 1937. His participation then came to the Otto Wolff Group through forced Aryanization.

Since 1995, concrete environmental history has also been shown. Here the interrelationships between the growth of the ironworks and the town of Thale as well as the handling of the pollution for people, air, water and soil through over 300 years of metallurgical production are illustrated. Since 2000 there has been a further part of the exhibition that deals with the removal of industrial pollution.

Since 1998 there have been several loans from the artist Willi Neubert in the foyer of the museum, which come from his artistic work closely connected to the ironworks. In 2005, the wall enamel picture “300 years of ironworks”, which was saved and stored from the demolition of the apprentice dormitory in 2001, was mounted on the steam engine building, thus making a memorial at the memorial accessible to the public again.

In addition to the permanent exhibition, there are special exhibitions that change several times a year, ranging from painting and sculpture to the history of technology.

Steam engine
Another special feature is the steam engine from 1911, which was in operation from 1912 until the block rolling mill was shut down in 1990. This was built by Ascherslebener Maschinenbau AG and is a double-acting tandem drum-type steam engine. After it was restored on behalf of the association and reactivated with the help of an engine, it has been on display since May 2009.

 

Wendhusen Abbey with a special topic canonical pens
Walpurgis Hall
Obscurum Thale. Museum of Witchcraft and Dark Forces.
GDR Museum Thale
Local history museum Westerhausen

Buildings
The Wotan monument by the ash tree at the town hall, a statue for Heimdall, and Sleipnir on the Germanic Mythenweg
The former Wendhusen monastery from Carolingian times
The Hotel Zehnpfund, built in 1863, was formerly the largest summer hotel in Germany
The Evangelical St. Petri Church, completed in 1906
The Catholic Herz-Jesu-Kirche was established in 1910 and 1911
In 2017 a pedestrian suspension bridge and megazipline were opened over the Wendefurth reservoir, which connects the Upper Harz with the Thalenser side of the reservoir.
The windmill in the Warnstedt district, visible from afar
The Villa Rosenburg, built in 1848, and the Berghotel Rosstrappe are also under monument protection. The architectural monuments of Thales are registered in the Thalenser monument register.

 

History

The Thale settlement was probably built at the beginning of the 10th century. It was mentioned for the first time in 936 in connection with the neighboring Wendhusen monastery, which was founded as a canonical monastery before 840 as one of the first monasteries on Saxon soil. The monastery came under the protection of the monastery in Quedlinburg. The village was called Dat Dorp to dem Dale from 1231 (whose sex was given in Latinized form, from 1288 with the place name de valle, from 1303 by Thale). The monastery was destroyed in 1525 during the Peasants' War.

An ironworks can be found in Thale since 1445. After being abandoned in the Thirty Years' War, it was rebuilt in 1648 as the Berghaus zum Wilden Mann, but completely destroyed in 1670. In 1686 a small hammer forge was established, from which a new ironworks later developed, which was particularly favored by the proximity to ore deposits and wood. It existed until 1714. In 1740 another company was opened. The ironworks was briefly owned by Frederick the Great. In 1755 Ernst August von dem Bussche-Hünnefeld acquired the Thale manor with the former Wendhusen monastery; Thale was run as the manor "Wendhusen I", the monastery property that resulted from the monastery as "Wendhusen II"; Both remained in the family's possession until expropriation in 1945, as did the neighboring Stecklenberg estate.

In 1831 the first wrought-iron wagon axle, which had been built in Germany to date, was manufactured in Thale. In 1835 the oldest sheet metal enamelling plant in Europe was founded in Thale. After the city was connected to the railroad in the direction of Berlin in 1862, the place and the number of workers grew: While Eisenhüttenwerk Thale AG employed only 350 people in 1872, it was 4400 in 1905. Above all, enamel production contributed to Thale's international reputation After all, at peak times 10% of global production came from the largest European enamel factory. In 1910 Karl Liebknecht, Rosa Luxemburg and Clara Zetkin spoke to Thalens workers.

During the First World War, the German steel helmets (M1916) were produced in the ironworks from 1916, the prototype of which had been developed there in 1915. From 1934 the plant had a monopoly on steel helmet production. During the GDR era, the plant was converted into VEB Eisen- und Hüttenwerke Thale. For the 300th anniversary in 1986, the Thale Hüttenmuseum was founded at the site of the plant.

The long-term investment backlog almost led to the end of the traditional company after the fall of the Wall. It was finally privatized in 1993 when it was sold to the former Prime Minister of Lower Saxony Ernst Albrecht and the businessman Hans Henry Lamotte. However, there was no sustainable further development during this time. It was not until the takeover by the Schunk Group from Gießen (1997) that the various company areas were re-invested, especially enamel processing.

Tourism has flourished since the 19th century in connection with the water from the Hubertus spring, which was later classified as containing radon, on the Hubertus Island, which was opened up in 1836. Various writers such as Heinrich Heine (Die Harzreise) and Theodor Fontane visited the place and especially the Bodetal. In addition, Berlin tourists in particular enjoyed the Thalens summer resort. This was made possible by the connection of Thale to the railway from Wegeleben in 1862. In 1909 a branch line from Blankenburg (Harz) followed.

In 1922 the place received city rights.

After evacuation by remaining German troops on April 20, 1945, Thale was occupied by US troops largely without a fight. The ironworks also fell into their hands undamaged. At the Thale cemetery there is a memorial stone for 21 unknown Wehrmacht soldiers. In the Warnstedt cemetery, a gravestone shows 20 German soldiers buried there, two of whom are "unknown".

From the beginning of July 1945 Thale also became part of the Soviet occupation zone and from 1949 of the GDR.

From June 12th to 14th, 2009, Thale was the venue for the Saxony-Anhalt Day under the motto Thale legendary, which attracted around 200,000 visitors.

Incorporations
Warnstedt was incorporated in 2003. In 2009 a total of seven municipalities were incorporated at four different times. Westerhausen was added in 2010. Allrode became a district of Thale in 2011. The incorporation of Friedrichsbrunn and Stecklenberg was controversial, as the neighboring communities of Gernrode, Bad Suderode and Rieder had sought to form a unified community with them. The original incorporation on September 29, 2009 was thus postponed.