The „Dying“ Village Morschenich-Alt before Demolition: A Soundwalk
Since the early days of brown coal mining in the Rhineland large areas of the landscape between Aachen and Cologne have been transformed. Brown coal is extracted in open cast mining, which means that enormous mechanical diggers dig out the coal from underneath the surface layers of the earth. All that is left afterwards is a large hole in the ground that will be backfilled after the excavation has been finished. For the supply of the surrounding power plants the mining area has been extended constantly. Entire forests and many villages have disappeared due to open cast mining.
One of the villages that will disappear soon is Morschenich-Alt (old Morschenich). By 2024 the diggers of the Hambach mining district will have reached the old village. Many of its inhabitants have already moved to Morschenich-Neu (new Morschenich), where the village has been rebuilt, and other places. The RWE AG, the energy cooperation that executes the mining, reimburses the former inhabitants and reserves building plots for them. Originally Morschenich-Alt had 600 inhabitants. Now there are less than 150 people left. Some of them are refugees. The city council offered them the empty houses as a temporary home. In 2040, after the diggers have excavated all the coal, the hole will be filled with water and turned into Hambacher See (Lake Hambach).
In the recording you can hear a soundwalk through Morschenich-Alt. The walk starts at the eastern entrance to the village and follows the Ellener Straße past the Kindergarden to the old church, where it turns left into Unterstraße towards the northern exit of the village. You can hear many cars driving through the village, playing children in the Kindergarden and the sound of a TV in one of the houses the walk passes. Towards the end of the recording you can hear two chatting cyclists cycling through the village. The recordists footsteps accompany the entire recording.
Recordist: Kathinka Engels
Photographer: Konrad Gutkowski