Film

DECONSTRUCTING THE WEST



A few rusty signs are all that is left of what was once the heart of the German coal and steel industry – with the decommissioning of the Dortmund coking plant at Kaiserstuhl one of the last relics of the age of coal, iron and steel in the Ruhr has disappeared. Deutsche Steinkohle (DSK), a subsidiary of the RAG Group had big plans for this facility when it opened its doors in 1992 after a five-year construction period. The plant cost 650 million euros to build and was the most modern of its type in the world. It was to supply the neighbouring steelworks of the former Hoesch AG with coke for many years – according to a long-term contract which envisaged that German steel works would buy German coke. When the contract ran out in 1999 however and Hoesch was swallowed up by the Krupp Group, the local industry changed direction and faced East: from that point on the coke was bought from China and Poland – where it cost fifteen euros less per ton. This was the beginning of the end for Kaiserstuhl. The final nail in the coffin came at the end of the ‘90s when Thyssen and Krupp merged and decided to concentrate their joint production in Duisburg. The Dortmund location was then retired: after only eight years of operation, the furnaces of Kaiserstuhl were shut down and the 450 or so workers were moved to other DSK plants or sent to join the ranks of the unemployed.