Life after lignite: how Lusatia has returned to nature

A landscape wounded by coal mining is being transformed into Germanys lake district

Down a single lane road lined by oak trees, about 90 minutes southeast of Berlin, the tiny village of Pritzen sits on a peninsula that juts into Lake Altdöbern. Its something of a miracle that Pritzen still exists.

Neighboring villages were demolished in the 1980s to make room for an expanding lignite strip mine and Pritzen was slated to be swallowed up next. By 1987 almost all of the 500 or so residents had packed up and left, chased away by the suffocating dust and noise from the mine and the threat of the imminent destruction of their homes.

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