The city of makers

“C the unseen” is in Chemnitz's application for European Capital of Culture 2025.

First and foremost, this means the people, the makers who have always shaped the city - with ingenuity, courage, down-to-earthness and foresight.

But “C the unseen” also has to do with the fact that the third largest city in East Germany is not necessarily listed in the “exciting discovery” category.

Chemnitz is full of captivating stories. For example that of the Saxon Manchester. Over 200 years ago it began in a still insignificant community of 10,000 people, where the first factory in Saxony was built with a lot of knowledge from England. It also tells of hard industrial work and cultural wealth, of the finest stockings for the whole world and locomotives for Europe - and it ends in Germany's leading industrial city with 360,000 inhabitants, the center of which was in ruins after a bombing on March 5, 1945.

Another unique story is about the post-war reconstruction. Chemnitz becomes the socialist model city of the GDR with wide parade streets, mighty buildings and the renaming in 1953 to Karl-Marx-Stadt. In 1971 the monument and the head were added.

Today there is hardly any other city in which East Modernism can be better studied: decorative elements made of concrete, serial residential buildings, simple pragmatism. And industry again, this time the city becomes an indispensable mechanical engineering location in Eastern Europe with a strong youth culture, a theater that is widely recognized in the GDR, many world and Olympic champions and the third largest panel building area in the republic.

Then the political turnaround - and another incredible story: of plants closed and massive layoffs. 70,000 mostly young people are leaving the city looking for new perspectives. Others dare to start a business and ensure an economic upswing. Today the city has over 16,000 companies again. Thanks to the automotive industry and mechanical engineering, Chemnitz can afford something again: a five-section theater, the „Kunstsammlungen“, an industrial museum, the new Gunzenhauser museum, modern schools and kindergartens - a new major goal: to become European Capital of Culture in 2025.

But then in 2018 neo-Nazis march. Not suddenly, but unexpectedly well connected. Chemnitz is scary. But Chemnitz is also encouraging - the culture sets standards, the urban society struggles for points of view. Exciting times in the city with almost 250,000 inhabitants and two names: Chemnitz - Karl-Marx-Stadt - Chemnitz. That may not be a place of longing, but certainly for exciting discoveries, for love at second sight. C the unseen.


The city portrait and photos can be downloaded here for editorial use.

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