Geography of Saxony Weblinks
Here is a set of web links for studying Germany and the Free State of Saxony in particular. Some are only in German but to leave them out would bias to the sources.
Some general places about Germany to start:
www.meinestadt.de is a very good place to start if you are looking up ant town or city in Germany. So all you do is add the name of the city in German such as www.meinestadt.de/chemnitz or www.meinestadt.de/dresden
The 'Land' of Saxony or Freistaat Sachsen
Land in Germany after the 'Bundesrepublik' is the next largest geographical unit - it is a region and unlike in the UK they have a government and many powers. Saxony was part of the communist 'German Democratic Republic' until 1990 when West and East Germany united again.
The best site for a whole range of detailed statistics is: www.statistik.sachsen.de/englisch/
This is a very full description of the region as a euro-region which also includes Northern Bohemia in the Czech Republic www.sachsen-euregio.de/
In the former GDR, most people in cities lived in flats, some were pre war but like in the UK, when the population grew in the 1960s and 1970s, more housing was needed. In 1990 much of this housing was in poor condition and in need of improvement - much of this work is being done now.
Shopping has changed fundamentally as prior to 1990; two state companies ran retailing. City centres have also been transformed over the last 10 years - reinventing them in 'western' style. Add to that the development of 'Retail Parks' on the edge of cities and very soon it may be difficult to tell that the GDR existed!
The Capital City of Saxony is the historical city of Dresden. There are several good sites that give an overview of the city.
Dresden is the 12 largest city in Germany. Dresden lies in the Elbtal or the Elbe valley and so this is an excellent site for images of the city old and new: www.elbtal.com/dresden/4/index.html
Be prepared to be shocked by what the British and Americans did in Dresden in 1945, as 30 000 citizens were killed by the final act of bombing. Coventry in the UK is twinned with Dresden because of a similar fate. As an act of reconciliation Coventry supported [along with many others] the re-building of the Frauenkirke - the largest church in Dresden which will be complete by 2006.
The library of congress is currently hosting an exhibition of photos of the rebuilding of Dresden:
The football teams of the city are:
http://www.dynamo-dresden.de/ was once the most successful side in the GDR but have hit hard times.
http://www.dsc-fussball98.de/ - in the 2nd Bundesliga at present and more successful than Dynamo at present.
Chemnitz was called Karl Marx Stadt in the GDR. This city was called the Manchester of Germany in the late 19th Century due to the growth of the textile industries. www.chemnitz.de/de/flash.htm
Similar issues of redevelopment and reconstruction exist exacerbated by unemployment and out migration. Many of the schools have been shut in this city because of this. There is a superb photo-tour of this city at www.region-chemnitz.com
This area lies along the Czech border in the southern part of Saxony. They are Ore Mountains because seams of silver, lead and tin were found throughout the region. Today that mining is the heritage.
The landscape is rolling hills with mixed farmland, half timbered houses and forests of oak, beech and birch and plantations of pines and firs rise into the mountains.
The region has many small towns and villages nestling in valleys with small clean streams.
Brand-Erbisdorf is the small twin town where we were based. Its roots were mining, Brand and farming, Erbisdorf. www.brand-erbisdorf.de/ Today is a small industrial town with one or two older factories and a new industrial estate. These weblinks are all in German. www.meinestadt.de/Brand-Erbisdorf
The school we are linked with is Bernhard Von Cotta Gymnasium, Brand-Erbisdorf http://marvin.sn.schule.de/~cottagym/ also has a very good reconstruction of an early silver mine an museum that has been partly constructed by the pupils from the school.
An industry based in Brand Erbisdorf is www.bew-bed.de
In the Erzgebirge mountains, wood is an abundant natural resource. This area is now famous worldwide for wooden toys. Skills developed by the people of the locality.
In this Southern part of Saxony lies the, spectacular to some yet kitsch to others, honeypot village of Seiffen. www.seiffen.de A beautiful mountain forest close to the Czech border surrounds Seiffen. The area is used for skiing in the winter but it is as a centre of wooden toys and Christmas decorations that it has become famous. The Raucherman is a pipe smoking incense dispenser and quaint or kitsch depending on your point of view.
Other new resorts like Oberwiesental, close to the highest point in Saxony [Fichtelberg at 1214 m], are being developed for skiing and walking. www.oberwiesental.de
Its new centrepiece is the naturally hot bath [26ºC] that is pumped from below ground and used as therapy for arthritis. It is not only warm but mildly radioactive.
This website tells the story of what Schlema is like now and how in just ten years the environment has almost been resorted from devastating uranium mining until 1990.
A report of what it was like is here on this Dutch environmental website: Uranium Mining in Eastern Germany: The WISMUT Legacy
This site is a scientific report on changes in mine water hydrology during the flooding of an abandoned uranium mine in the Erzgebirge/Saxonia/Germany
Brown Coal or Lignite Mining and the effects of pollution
In Northern Saxony, surrounding Leipzig are the brown coal mines and associated power stations that were infamous for environmental devastation. The power stations that burned ‘brown coal’ were the main cause of acid rain and damage to the forests surrounding this region. Many are now gone but are the subject of imaginative environmental improvement schemes.
There is a photo story of what the industry was like in 1991.
Hell in Europe’s backyard is a report of what this region was like- and it was not just Germany.
Transboundary Air Quality Monitoring in the Black Triangle Region - gives you some raw pollution data and shows how the air quality is improving.
Severoceske Doly A.S.
www.sdas.cz is one of the companies operating in the North Bohemia
lignite coalfield. One of the mines has become the largest lignite
mine and the biggest coal mine in Europe.
The SOFIA INITIATIVE ON LOCAL AIR QUALITY is a joint project across Bulgaria, Czech Republic, Hungary, Poland, Romania, Slovakia and Slovenia to Reduction of SO2 and Particulate Emissions
Revitalization of Communities bordering Open-Cast Mines in the Lignite Mining District South of Leipzig www.ufz.de
One village, Heursdorf is still fighting against the expansion of a mine:
What can you do you do with old lignite mines? Here is one example:
This is good overview of the geology and impact on Lignite Mining
This is a view of the energy of the Czech republic
Finally, an environmentalist perspective on Lignite Mining
Teaching Geography in Germany
The German geography teachers association www.erdkunde.com/
Isn't it interesting that they use the word 'erdkunde' meaning earth study.
The main portals for academic geography are:
Some good links in German for teaching are from http://geoworld.de/