Massive Abandoned Steelworks Leaves Thousands of Workers without Job | URBEX DOCUMENTARYOn February 9, 2020 by Raul Dinwiddie
This colossus is one of Germany’s biggest industrial monuments. In the past, several thousand workers were drudging here under the most severe conditions day after day. In this former steel mill, all the production stages, from processing ore to the final goods, were realized in the tightest of spaces. After 15 years of being decommissioned, the monstrous industrial park was still appearing in working order. But when we were daring to enter the belly of the beast, we realized that the old plant is only a ruin. Pipes and steel beams, thick like tree trunks, are the skeleton of the leviathan but have been gnawed on by rust. So, it became really dangerous to move inside the spacious halls. But curiosity was the reason why we kept exploring and ultimately made an unusual find. And it was also why we had to end our exploration early. The long-standing steel plant is vanishing at the moment because of heavy decay and demolition works. Join our exploration which is actually already a long time ago when we were documenting the site before it was gone forever. If you enjoy our videos make sure to hit the subscribe button and click the bell to get notified when we upload new content. We picked a quiet morning in autumn to infiltrate this massive steelwork somewhere in the South of Germany. In a group of four we were trespassing and it wasn’t a random path we chose. Our exploration was planned down to the last detail and this was absolutely necessary in order to not get caught by security that day. And so, only after a couple of minutes, we were already standing in the former center of the complex. It took us a while to realize the enormous scale. Despite the fact that there wasn’t much left behind because of the ongoing demolition, it was still something we haven’t experienced before. But we had to be careful. It’s easy being spotted in the open factory halls and we just started our exploration. So, we decided to avoid the halls for now and seek protection in the winding corridors. And luckily, there are a lot of them in the huge plant. When we found the old workshops, we were pointed out in a friendly manner to buckle on our safety gear. As it seems, there’s asbestos everywhere and demolition work was raising those asbestos fibers. So, always be prepared when doing urbex! This is one of the reasons why the compound is guarded that well. With regularity copper and scrap metal thieves were entering to sell the old materials. And for this very reason, we were surprised that it was still possible to find so many valuable items here – even though a lot of them don’t have a tangible value rather than a sentimental one. It still smelled like lube oil and it seemed a bit as if the workforce was only taking a shift break that’s longer than usual. The history of this steel works dates back to the year 1850. This means the factory has a tradition of over 150 years! But the rural area has been characterized by mining and iron production already since the Middle Ages. Until well into the 20th century the plant was extended more and more and steadily adapted to the technical progress. That’s why the steel mill was that successful that over 9.000 people could be employed at the same time in its booming years. But labor was a dangerous, back-breaking job. All the heat and toxic gases were causing many injuries and a short life expectancy. Nonetheless, whole generations of families were salaried here. After all, the steel plant was one of the most significant employers in the region. Accordingly, it was fatal when the furnaces went out for good and thousands of jobs were gone. After some time in the corridors contaminated with asbestos, it was time to get some fresh air. Meanwhile, it had started to rain. But still, we decided to stay outside and climb the colossus. Ladders, frames, pipes and everything else you can find here have been exposed to wind, weather and corrosion for a long time now. Since the plant is vacant, it isn’t maintained anymore. Thus, climbing here is dangerous. Only a few years ago, a person died during demolition works. But for us, it was worth taking the risk. Because rust and a mossy carpet are transforming this part of the steel mill to an alien world. From up here, we were able to take a gander at the other sections of this highly developed industrial facility. This is the blast furnace. Right next to it you can see the old cowper stoves. Unfortunately, due to the security, it was too bold to approach those structures. So, we just enjoyed the distant view. Climbing out here, felt like living in a goldfish bowl! So, we decided to disappear again into the dark inner parts of the factory before security or neighbors could spot us. But due to the sulky weather light conditions in here got even worse. In some cases, it was even pitch-black inside those halls. Control rooms have a magical attraction to nearly all urban explorers. Here as well, we couldn’t resist and were taking a closer look at the old consoles of the steel works. A glance at the calendar in the background was also telling us when the plant was put out of operation. For decades, the staff has been fighting for the jobs. But after a big steel crisis, two bankruptcies and several changes of the owner, the factory was permanently closed down in 2002. That was a shock for the whole region! Thereafter, the steel mill was salvaged by the bankruptcy trustee who wanted to earn at least a bit of money. And so, everything that remains today is a torso of scrap metal – in spite of monument protection. The facility has such dramatic proportions and countless sceneries were just waiting to get photographed. However, during our visit, we were only able to see a small fraction of the huge factory. Beforehand, we were in contact with another urbexer who had infiltrated this abandonment multiple times already. He provided us with a detailed map of safe areas, surveillance cameras and silent alarms. The premises are still partly used for commercial purposes and rented out to different companies. Therefore, it was smart to avoid large sections of the area. But we couldn’t miss out on one highlight – despite the good monitoring. In an old hall, a variety of tanks was rotting away and they were obviously parked here by some association. Cautiously we gazed at the decayed engines of war from afar because we knew that there is an alarm system down here. Which we must have triggered somehow… Those tanks are also the reason why we were waiting so long to upload this episode. They could have been a target for scrap metal thieves and vandals. But at the moment, the whole premises look like this: Due to the progressed demolition works a lot of the things you could see in this video are already gone. As well as the tanks. They were removed from the property together with all the other valuables. From the once mighty colossus, there isn’t much left today. Today, the future of the old steel plant is uncertain. But what’s clear is that parts of the factory are planned to be preserved as an industrial monument. But for years it’s been disputed, which parts exactly and who should pay for it in the first place. A big problem as well is the huge amount of inherited waste on the property and in the close proximity such as the slag heap you can see in the background now. In other regions of Germany, a lot of former coal mines and steel mills were turned into museums. But not here. This paradise of industrial romance is in danger of falling apart. Until a few years ago there were photo tours on a regular basis and it was possible to experience the beauty and variety of this impressive facility. However, due to the large demolition works these guided tours were ended. So, today, contemporary witnesses and the interested public are locked out from this steel works that can tell so much more about the region than any other place. On this adventure, we were accompanied by an anonymous friend. All these pictures were taken by him and he’s sharing them on his Instagram account. It’s called a.nonyme_k.nipser which means “anonymous snapshooters” and you can find the link in the video description down below. In the past, we were on several mutual explorations and there are even more to come. So, follow him and stay tuned! Next time on Broken Window Theory: This summer we spent two weeks filming ibug which is Europe’s most unique street art festival. 100 artists from all around the world were letting their imagination run wild while they transformed an abandoned railway yard in Eastern Germany to a temporary art exhibition. This next episode is totally different from what we have posted so far. But since it will take us a while to edit this video, we will shorten the waiting time for you with a special bonus episode. Never before we found dead bodies inside an abandoned place. But here we discovered several at once. Exploring this neglected tomb turned out to be one of the most moving experiences in our whole lives. How did you like today’s episode? Let us know in the comments what part of the steel mill you have enjoyed the most. And if you want to help us improve our content, feel free to support us on Patreon. Only $1 per month already makes a difference! You find all the info below. Thanks for your patronage and keep exploring!