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Author: Subject: Buchwalde, Prussia - Destroyed by lignite mining
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[*] posted on 9-29-2014 at 11:23 PM
Buchwalde, Prussia - Destroyed by lignite mining

In the 19th century Johann Knippa, Johann Wukasch and Matthes Wukasch emigrated from Buchwalde to Texas with their families.

Bukojna_Buchwalde_1908.jpeg - 632kB

Deutsche Fotothek map 50.jpg - 945kB

Knappensee reservoir from Maukendorf (Wittichenau, Saxony, Germany)

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Lake Knappensee now covers old Buchwalde. The lake was created by the flooding of the former opencast lignite mine of Niemtsch by the Black Elster River from 15 November 1967 to November 1972. The flooding rate was initially at up to 60 cubic metres per minute (2,100 cu ft/min). To shorten the filling time, another flood channel was opened 40 metres (130 ft) away from the first channel in May 1968. Melt water and rain water meant that the flooding rate increased to up to 140 cubic metres per minute (4,900 cu ft/min).(Wikipedia)

According to local legend this is how Lake Knappensee was formed. Jan Slack heard it from Andreas Wocko who lives in Bautzen. He told her the coal mine was unintentionally flooded when some Russian soldiers, who were on duty in the area, decided to do a little fishing in the catchment pond using hand grenades. One of the grenades blew up the earth dam, flooding the mine and forming the lake.

From Meyers Orts:
Buchwalde, 7), village, Prussia, Silesia, government district of Liegnitz, county lower district court is in Hoyerswerda, military district office is in Muskau, civil registration office, district government office, post office with telegraph, and train station are 2.6 km in Gross Saerchen, Hoyerswerda county; 249 residents in 1910. In addition the house Mauckendorf has 2 residents in 1905; a group of new homes is New Buchwalde, civil registration office and train station is in Wittichenau, 18 residents in 1905.

There is another Buchwalde, which is in Saxony, not to be confused with the Buchwalde in Prussia:
Buchwalde -
Buchwalde - Wikipedia
Buchwalde, 8), village, right side of the Lusatian Neisse River; the same, Rothenburg county, Upper Lusatia, lower district court, post office and telegraph is in Priebus, military district office is in Muskau, civil registration office is in Podrosche, district government office is in Saenitz; 197 residents in 1910; train station: narrow gauged railroad Horka-Priebus; paper factory.

What follows is a collection of stories about Buchwalde accumulated by Jan Knippa Slack - whose Knippa and Wukasch ancestors came from this place:

The Vanished Place Buchwalde / Bukojna

The village Buchwalde / Bukojna cannot be found on today's maps neither in German nor in Wendish. Once located in northern Upper Lusatia between Hoyerswerda and Bautzen, in the 1930's it had to give way to coal production. In February 1945 a dam burst and flooded the mine. That was the unintentional birth of the "Knappensee" which is a well-known recreation area today.

Bukojna, settlement by the beech wood, is documented since 1401. Buchwalde was a "Straßendorf" (see map) and belonged to the parish of Groß Särchen. During 19th century the population constantly increased but it never reached more than 250 inhabitants. The people lived on the surrounding soil, wood and animals. From the year 1884 we know that 9 "half farmers," 5 gardeners, 37 "home-owners," 3 tenants, and 2 restaurant owners lived there with their families.

According to the manners and customs it was a typically Wendish village. Until the end of the 19th century the girls and women wore Sorbian costumes. One of the greatest people of Buchwalde was Pastor Jurij Ludovici. He was born in 1619 as the son of the tailor of the village and later he belonged to the founders of the Upper Sorbian standard language.

Until the end of World War I the people of Buchwalde managed their local government themselves. At the local assemblies they discussed in Wendish and wrote the minutes in German as it was prescribed. Between 1840 and 1930 the following people acted as mayor: Johann Dunkel, Andreas Wukasch, Georg Rich, Johann Rich, Georg Kieschnick, Johann Kral, August Krautschick, August Lapstich, and Ernst Müller.

Buchwalde survived the wars in history, the plague, the fire, even the French on their way to the battle against the Prussians in 1813 but it did not survive the industrialization in the form of mining. In 1917 the news that coal had been found in the area spread quickly. The mining company had no problem purchasing the necessary space, because they paid 1,600 -1,900 "Reichsmark" per acre and that was an appropriate price.

However, melancholy arose as the village itself should disappear. But with the production of coal the ground water sank rapidly so that there was no alternative to selling. Most of the peasants bought a property in the environs, others stayed and became miners. The vacant houses were rented to the miners and so number and structure of the population changed seriously within 10 years. In 1925 Buchwalde had 500 inhabitants. The Sorbian village of peasants developed into a German industrial place. Every household was connected to a central water and power supply system and also the cultural life experienced an impetus even if it was a short one.

In 1929 a last celebration took place before the village stopped existing politically on January 1st in 1931.

The village and its history remain unforgotten. Four picture postcards of the old Buchwalde, many personal souvenirs as well as several publications show that. One of the publications is the one by August Lapstich, mayor until 1925, who wrote a list of the former inhabitants of Buchwalde and gave details of their new places of residence.

Rather unnoticed, the heritage of Buchwalde is kept in Texas. In the 19th century Johann Knippa, Johann Wukasch and Matthes Wukasch emigrated from Buchwalde to Texas with their families.

Kerstin Preuss

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Buchwalde Demolition

The demolition of the houses began in 1929. The last inhabitants left their hometown in 1930.

But the end of what was once a typical Sorbian farming village was already ten years earlier. At this time, preparations began to build a briquette factory and an associated open pit mine. The groundbreaking for the opencast mine took place in 1913. In the last year of the 1st World War, 1918, the Werminghoff briquette factory (in what is now Knappenrode) went into operation. The need for raw lignite grew and the mine expanded rapidly. Workers came from all over Germany. The population of Buchwalde rose to around 300 in the mid-twenties. The pit and the briquette factory belonged to Eintracht AG. This began to buy up the farmers' estates, because underneath was the coal seam. The extraction of groundwater by the opencast mine had a negative impact on soil yield. This fact and the rising inflation indirectly acted as a means of pressure for the agents of Eintracht AG. The purchase of the land was completed by 1928. By then, a number of farmers had created a new existence. The peasants 'remaining buildings became workers' apartments. The flair of a typical Sorbian farming village in northern Upper Lusatia was lost. By 1924, Buchwalde had already become a German-Sorbian industrial community.

In the original Buchwalde, the Dorfstrasse was lined on both sides by a ditch. Behind it was a row of fruit trees. The buildings all stood with the gable end facing the village street, to the right and left of the dwelling house and stables with outcrops (old part). The yard was bordered across the barn. The buildings were connected to the village street by a wall with a large gate in the middle. In the middle of the residential building towards the garden one could often see an extension, massive and with a tiled roof, the oven. It was often converted into a storage room because there was a bakery in the village where you could buy bread.

As paradoxical as it may sound, the last few years have brought Buchwalde another big boom. Eintracht AG replaced the wells with a water pipe. Buchwalde received a local electrical network. All paths in the village have been repaired again. The school was renewed and the students were taught by two teachers.

A voluntary fire brigade was created and a riser tower was built for them. A cyclists' association, a rabbit breeders' association and a mandolin club were founded. Then the end came! The displaced residents had a few memorabilia: the Noack bakery and the school building were rebuilt in Maukendorf; the dance hall was revived at the Koblenz Inn.

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History of Buchwalde
by George Preibsch

In 1925 the German National Highway #96 ran in almost a straight line from Gross Särchen to Maukendorf in a northwesterly direction. After twice relocating #96 it now continues from Gross Särchen through Neu (New)Buchwalde, which formerly could be reached only by a path through the woods to the bridge of the railroad to Zeissholz.

On this national road a large pond lay on the left which, according to Sorbian legend, contained the well-known Grabat spring. Behind the lake or pond was a dune of about 10 to 20 yd. elevation which was dotted with fir trees. In excavating the hillside for mining purposes a layer of top soil was found, which indicated that this was a traveling dune, dating back to the post ice age.

Immediately behind this dune was the Gude estate on the road which leads through Brischko to Buchwalde and Koblenz. A remainder of this road is to be found west of the Knappensee (lake or pond). At the crossroad was the "Schuppang" Inn (hotel) a typical village inn with stop-over facilities. About 300 ft. behind this inn was the bakery of Mr. Noack, which today is still in operation by a son of the original owner in the village of Maukendorf. Then on the right and left of the street are a number of businesses, and some of the streets were named for the owners, ie., Krahl St. etc.

The original village of Buchwalde lay about 300 to 400 yd. on the right side of the road which in Gross Särchen branches off immediately after crossing the bridge over the blackwater past the playground, which forms the present Karl Marx Street, which continues to the hunting lodge of Koblenz and Riegel. The general appearance of the village gave a typical picture of a Sorbian village of the north Upper Lusatian settlers.

The road directly through the village was bordered on both sides by a ditch, behind which were rows of fruit trees, apples, pears, along which led a footpath. Then followed the rows of houses without front yard-gardens, and the bay windows of the houses facing the street. Living rooms and stable and workshop were toward the street, and behind these the barn, so that in most cases these homes were about 12 yds. apart, connected by a wall in the center of which was a gate and both sides of which had a door. This entire yard then formed a closed-in plot or property. On the gable of the house which was higher than the stables were found the initials of the owners as for instance, J. R. (Johann Rich). On the side of the house was a massive little house with slate roof - the bake-oven.

It was usually warm here and an excellent playground for mosquitos. Zady nasej pjecy, an old folksong of the Sorbs is: "Behind our bake oven, the mosquitos are playing.” There is no Wend who does not know this song. Buchwalde had been laid out in whole, 3/4, or l/2 portions of land, according to old measurements. Typical Sorbian names were: Lapstich (elder in the church), Krautschick (foreman for the municipality of Gross Särchen, Buchwalde, Koblenz, Maukendorf, and Werminghoff), Kuhn, Kubsch, Krahl, Robel and others.

Buchwalde belonged to the congregation of Gross Särchen, where also the church records were kept. In the village itself was found the Rich village guesthouse (hotel), on the Wittichenau-Koblenz road at the crossing of the main street. Here also stood the peace oak, planted in 1871. Also, a dance hall was in the village, which was torn down and rebuilt in Koblenz in 1929. The school for this locality is at present in Maukendorf.

The administration of the community to the year 1918 lay entirely in the hands of farmers. It was a rural (farming) community, and not everyone was able to record the minutes which was necessary. Besides, there was difficulty in regard to the German language, hence there were not many changes made in the community administration, which became quite permanent.

In 1918 the first laborers arrived. The days of the revolution (change-over) did not change much at first, however, the peasants were fearful. The loss of groundwater caused by the growing depth of the excavation (for mining purposes) resulted in diminishing crops. The stratum of coal extended to below the location of Gross Särchen. The firm "AG” offered to buy the properties from the peasants, and these, realizing their needless hesitation, finally yielded. The rising inflation then caused many a valuable property to be sold at a great loss. A number of the farmers again bought properties in closer or farther location. Others remained and became laborers in the mine pit. The remaining houses were, for the time being, remodeled into homes for the miners. By the end of 1924 the peasant village Buchwalde had been transformed into an industrialized community, numbering about 90 to 100 households. This naturally resulted in a new type of community leadership, - the majority being laborers. Fortunately, the change-over was without friction, since the relationship between the farmers and the laborers were quite agreeable. Here the author wishes to insert a personal experience which reveals more than words can express. It was in the fall of 1923 when the inflation had reached its high joint. Everyone knew that the concern for food in the homes was a daily guest, and the prices rose not only daily but hourly. We were sitting together in our home as usual, naturally discussing the topics of the day. A knock at the door. Upon our “Come in!” the mayor of the city, Mr. Laptisch, together with one of the peasants stepped into the room. “Good evening,” he said, "we have come in response to some of the peasants of Buchwalde. As you know, we are celebrating our church dedication anniversary tomorrow, and we have, as we have for every year baked coffee cake. But we do not want to celebrate when we know that in your homes there is not enough to oat. And since coffee cake would not be sufficient, we have agreed to bring you bread that we have gathered together. Each one of us has contributed; no one offered an excuse. We ask you to accept it, not in the sense of charity, but as an expression of our good wishes to you for our church dedication anniversary festival.” Then to my father he said: "You take over the distribution of the bread as you see best."(Lassts gut schmecken!” = Let it taste good!)

We younger ones at once went to all the laborer families to bring them the good news, while my father, together with a neighbor, Georg Voit, quickly made a list of the number of people in each family, and portioned out the bread accordingly. Soon the surprised people began to arrive to call for their portion, and to their delight found out personally what had taken place. By and by the wells in the community began to give out and the branch of the Schwarze Elster River which partly had surrounded Buchwalde was to be drained. The Company had to agree to install a water system as well as lights. In 1925 water mains and electric light were installed. A special water and light celebration was arranged. At this celebration Mayor Laptisch gave his farewell address as he was moving to Wartha. His successor was Ernst Mueller, a peasant, who had sold his property to the company, and had become a laborer. Once again, the village enjoyed a brief period of prosperity. Roads were repaired. Gardens were laid out. The school was renovated and received, in addition to two teachers, a lady teacher.

A fire department was established. Firemen were Albert Sebastian and Max Amberger. Farther, a labor society (union?) was founded. The labor and sports club of Gross Särchen had a number of members in Buchwalde. The rabbit breeder association of Warminghoff and vicinity had its headquarters here. A cultural society was the mandolin club.

In 1929 the last of the community properties were sold to the "Union AG". From the receipts, part of which went to the labor fund and part remained in Buchwalde, a "home celebration" (a farewell celebration?) was arranged. The lower classes in school once more had a picnic, while the upper classes took a day trip to Berlin and the East and North Sea, which for those times was something extraordinary. Upon their return from this exciting trip a parents evening was arranged in which the enthusiastic children and their teachers related some of the experiences, showing slides, and giving short reports. One of the sponsors of the trip was Waldemar Jeske in Knappenrode.

In the same year the first mine-tramway (bridge) was built on the former location of Buchwalde by the Lauchhammer firm. Four bridges in all were built. At the same time the draining of the big pond of Gross Särchen was undertaken. All buildings but one were sold by now and wrecked. This one remaining building was a typical Sorbian house, the oldest one in the village. It no doubt dated back to the original settlement of Buchwalde as a Sorbian meeting place in the shadow of a Buchen grove (beech grove) as the name also indicates. In a great fire which destroyed the whole village except three barns, it was the only building which remained standing. They just could not wreck this old landmark. Since it was constructed of wood, straw, and clay it was left standing until it collapsed.

In 1930 the last of the Buchwalde residents left the village. They moved either to Gross Särchen or Werminghoff into homes for the miners.

So ended Buchwalde, a quiet Sorbian village in Upper Lusatia, Urstromtal (original river valley) the soil of which once was cultivated by the hands of industrious peasants but whose internal treasure (coal) was likewise excavated by no less industrious miners. Today the area of the former village of Buchwalde is a lake, the Knappensee, and it serves the people of the community as a source of great joy and recreation.

[From a translation made by Theo. Wukasch of original in German given Martin Wukasch in September 1974 during his visit to Pastor Gille in Gross Särchen.]

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I No Longer Have A Place-of-Birth!

Buchwalde, you who are my place of birth,
You have vanished forever.
You Wendish village, neat and small,
Pretty with birch trees, Scotch pines and beech trees.

Where my childhood cradle stood,
Where castles were built in the sand,
Where we joked, loved, laughed
Very happily through many years.

Where a pair of storks
Continually nested, year after year.
Where the herons lingered
To feast on the flourishing ponds in times past.

Where the hunting range of the ice birds
Was along the Blackwater creek.
Where the joyous and agile wren
Proudly flew through the whitethorn hedge.

Where the seagull flew briskly to the lake;
The barn swallow flew to his nest;
The bittern called out
Late at night when everyone was asleep.

There were also many beautiful creatures
From whom little was heard.
I remember ... My heart grows sad ...
Thinking about my dearly beloved Place-of-Birth.

Buchwalde, through all the world to which your people emigrated,
We must avoid forgetting you.
Your undeserved fate will undoubtedly
Be hard on the older people.

We abandoned our ancestors' farms and homes
And were thrown out into the world.
Crudely torn away, we left the land,
Nevermore to return to our homeland.

Destructive coal ... the lifeblood of the factory...
Confederate of the soil ... He won!
Where once the village of Buchwalde stood,
The Knappensee (Lake Knappen) has found its Place-of-Birth.

Condescendingly, now and then,
The lake carries an old-fashioned boat
With people from Buchwalde
Who have returned to mourn their farms.

And when you question this old person,
Her tired gaze says to you:
"To our Place-of-Birth ... If only we could sweep back the lake
To find our childhood happiness today!”
★★★★★★★★★★★★★★★★★★★★★ 733;★★★★★★★★★★★★★★♦★
Translated German to English by Arlene Riedinger, 1992

Hab' keine Heimstatt mehr!

Buchwalde, du mein Heimatdorf,
verschwunden bist für immer fort.
Du sorbisch Dörfchen schmuck und klein
mit Birken, Kiefern, Buchen fein.

Wo meiner Kinder Wiege stand,
wo Burgen sie gebaut im Sand,
wo sie getollt, geherzt, gelacht,
viel glücklich Jahre dort verbrachtl

Wo stetig gar ein Storchenpaar
sein Nest bewohnte Jahr für Jahr,
wo einsam einst der Reiher zog,
zum Schmaus an einen Weiher flog.

Wo der Schwarzwasserbach zugleich
war des Eisvogels Jagdbereich;
wo der Zaunkönig lustig, flink,
stolz durch die Weißdornhecken ging!

So flott zum See die Möve flog,
die Mauerschwalbe nestwärts zog,
die Rohrdommel spät noch rief,
sogar des nachts, wo alles schlief!

Noch vieles Schöne lieb und wert,
von dem man selten heut was hört,
erinnert mich-macht’s Herz mir schwer­
an meine liebe Heimstatt sehr!

Buehwalde mußt’ dem Abbau fliehn,
in alle Welt sein Völkchen ziehn!
Solch‘ Schicksal unerbittlich hart
besonders für die Alten ward.

Verlassen Vaterhafs und Haus,
und ziehen in die Welt hinaus,
heißt trennen,von der Schalle gehn,
die Heimstatt nicht mehr Wiedersehn!

Kohleabbau, der Wirtschaft Blut,
Schollenverbund’nen wehe tut!
Wo einst das Dorf Buchwalde stand,
der Knappensee sein Heimstatt fand.

Geruhsam zieht dort dann und wann,
den See lang ein altmodisch Kahn
mit Buchwalder einst‘gen Bauern
die um ihre Heimstatt trauern!

Und wenn ihr diese Alten fragt
„ihr müder Blick euch diese sagt:
Zur Heimstatt kehren wir zurück,
zum See, der heut der Jugend Glück!“

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