Planting at 14 local initiatives and other activities

On 13 April 2024, the first GENEROUS NEIGHBORS action week will begin with a festival and open day at the Untere Spinnmühle along the Lohse-Uhlig-Steig in Kleinolbersdorf-Altenhain. GENEROUS NEIGHBORS is one of the main projects of the Chemnitz 2025 programme, in which citizens are greening their immediate living and working environment in neighbourhood initiatives.

A total of 14 planting campaigns will take place in Chemnitz and the surrounding area until 20 April, accompanied by presentations on the aquaponics process, which combines fish farming and vegetable cultivation. Local people will be planting 230 trees and shrubs on their own initiative in schools, allotment garden associations and meeting places, among others, and will look after them in the future. Ideas for the next planting week in autumn 2024 can now also be submitted.


The campaign week will kick off at the Untere Spinnmühle in Kleinolbersdorf-Altenhain. Here, neighbourly commitment is celebrated in a special place: The Lower Spinning Mill is one of the last remaining former spinning mills built by the Saxon church architect Christian Friedrich Uhlig, one of the namesakes of the Lohse-Uhlig Trail. The hiking trail is one of the city of Chemnitz’s 30 intervention areas for Chemnitz 2025 and is the result of the commitment of the Kleinolbersdorf-Altenhain citizens’ association, which is already organising themed hikes along the trail. The programme on 13 April begins at 2.30 p.m. with welcoming speeches from the hosts, including Dr Jens Trepte, owner of imk – The Intelligence Consortium. Thomas Morgenstern, former head of the Chemnitz Monument Protection Authority, will then give a lecture on the master builder Christian Friedrich Uhlig. There will be guided tours of the renovated building as well as musical interludes by the Chemnitz Jazz Company.

This Saturday in the Capital of Culture region, DENKSTATT Erzgebirge, together with the state-owned company Sachsenforst and the Seiffen municipal administration, is organising the “700 trees for 700 years of Seiffen” day of action from 11 am. Because the raw material wood has been the basis of life for people in the region for centuries – in glass production, mining or wooden toy manufacture – the initiators will plant 700 trees together with the guests. Chemnitz 2025 gGmbH is supporting this planting campaign with 20 trees. The programme for the day also includes the presentation of the experiential education project “Miriquidi – Children in the Forest”. It was created by five young designers in the DENKSTATT for the PURPLE PATH art and sculpture trail.

Planting week

From 15 to 20 April 2024, citizens in Chemnitz and the region will be greening their neighbourhoods during the first planting week of the GENEROUS NEIGHBORS project. The various partners are organising the plantings on their own initiative and using them, among other things, to introduce themselves to the neighbourhood, to get involved and talk to each other and to do their bit for urban greenery. Chemnitz 2025 gGmbH provides the trees, accessories and expert advice on site. The partners plant and care for the trees themselves.

Stefan-Heym-Gymnasium will start on Monday, 15 April at 10 a.m. with 21 fruit trees and shrubs. The pupils will take the spades into their own hands and take the first step towards creating a green classroom. There will also be plantings in the spa town of Seiffen, the Hammerfrieden allotment garden association, the Eva meeting centre, the Altchemnitz school, the Chemnitz sports high school, the Klackx cultural centre, the Weststraße primary school, the Theodor Körner primary school, the Am Stadtpark primary school, the Reichenbrand primary school, the Deutsche Scholle allotment garden association, the Turnhalle allotment garden association and the Volksgesundheit allotment garden association.

Public planting dates in April:

Mon, 15 April, 10 a.m., Stefan-Heym-Gymnasium, Seumestr. 2-6, Chemnitz

Mon, 15 April, 10 a.m., KGV Hammerfrieden, Hammerstr. 13, Chemnitz

Mon, 15 April, 2 p.m., Eva meeting place, Usti nad Labem 37, Chemnitz

Tue, 16 April, 9.50 a.m., Altchemnitz School, Philippstr. 20, Chemnitz

Tue, 16 April, 12.30 pm, Sportgymnasium Chemnitz, Reichenhainer Str. 210, Chemnitz

Tue, 16 April, 2 p.m. Kulturhaus Klackx, Pappelstr. 3, Glauchau

Wednesday, 17 April, 10.30 a.m., Weststraße primary school, Weststr. 19, Chemnitz

Wed. 17 April, Theodor Körner Primary School, Turnerstr. 1, Freiberg

Fri, 19 April, 12 noon, Am Stadtpark primary school, Friedrich-Hähnel-Str. 86, Chemnitz

Sat. 20 April, 9 a.m., KGV Deutsche Scholle, Frankenberger Str. 3, Chemnitz

Knowledge transfer

Irrigation is an important issue in the care of trees and shrubs, especially against the backdrop of increasing heat and water shortages in cities. Aquaponics is a modern process in which water from fish tanks is used to irrigate plants, which receive the necessary nutrients from the excretions of the fish. The operators of the Chemnitz aquaponics facility in Karree49 provide information on how it works in presentations with practical offers during the GENEROUS NEIGHBORS promotion week.

At Karree49, Petersstr. 26, 09130 Chemnitz, registration at:

  • Mon, 15 April, 14.00: Lecture “Introduction to aquaponics, focus on water values” with practical offer “Taking water values: Requirements and necessities”
  • Tue. 16 April, 14.00: Lecture with practical offer “Introduction to aquaponics, focus on control” with practical offer “Getting to know components and equipping the board”
  • Thu, 18 April, 14.00: Lecture “Introduction to aquaponics, focus on plant cultivation” with practical offer “Practical application of basic horticultural skills related to aquaponics”

The next planting campaign will take place in autumn 2024. There are already many registrations for this. Anyone who would like to get involved with their own activities can contact Chemnitz 2025 gGmbH at

As part of the GENEROUS NEIGHBORS project, one of the main projects for Chemnitz 2025, Chemnitz residents are called upon to green their city in neighbourhood initiatives in their immediate living and working environment.

photos: Ernesto Uhlmann

As with so many places in Saxony, the history of Oederan begins in the twelfth century as a forest village. It was first mentioned as a town in 1282, a time when mining was already carried out here. Although the ore yield was never particularly rich, Oederan was nevertheless granted the privilege of a free mining town in 1583. This attracted people, but many found their livelihood in the timber industry rather than mining. Oederan is therefore also home to Erzgebirge folk art. It is still maintained today in the folk art school. 

Oederan was located at the intersection of the medieval trade routes between Halle and Bohemia (north-south), as well as Franconia and Dresden (west-east). Today, the Saxon section of the Way of St James pilgrimage route runs along the historic Frankenstraße. Agriculture remained a dominant feature until the nineteenth century. The Gahlenz village museum offers a good representation of this. 

Clothmaking (documented since 1457) and linen weaving (documented since 1507) developed into the leading trades in Oederan. The town hall at Markt 5, a mighty Renaissance building (1575), still bears witness to its economic success. Both guilds formed the basis for the development of the textile industry in the 19th and 20th centuries. Most of the historic residential buildings in the town centre, for example on Martin-Luther-Platz, also date from this period. The DIE WEBEREI (the weaving mill) museum at Markt 6 in Oederan provides insights into this period. 

Altars to kneel at: neo-Gothic carved altar 

The St Mary’s Protestant church in Oederan stands in a prominent location that visually dominates the townscape. Due to town fires and repeated remodelling, the three-nave hall church displays a mix of architectural elements and furnishings from late Gothic (fifteenth century) to Baroque (eighteenth century) and Neo-Gothic (around 1890). The patron saint of St Mary dates back to 1375. 

Carved altars were not only created in the Erzgebirge during the height of the late Gothic period, but also in the nineteenth century. The carved altar in St Mary’s was made by the sculptor Carl Förster from Leipzig in a neo-Gothic style. The polygonal pulpit was also built by him to match. St Mary’s is also a stop on the Way of St James. 

The Saxon Way of St James and the Vogtland Way of St James run along the medieval Frankenstraße through Saxony. Both routes are part of the European Way of St James network, which converge in St Jean-Pied-de-Port in France and lead from there to Santiago de Compostela (Spain). Marked throughout and with accommodation for pilgrims, the Saxon Trail begins in Bautzen and runs along Frankenstraße through the silver city of Freiberg. Read more… 

The sound of the Purple Path: Silbermann organ 

The organ in St Mary’s Church is a work by Gottfried Silbermann from 1727 with 1,300 pipes. Originally equipped with 24 stops, it now has 25 stops on two manuals and a pedal. During the neo-Gothic remodelling of the church interior in 1890/1892, the organ received a new case from the cabinetmaker Ernst Weißbach, Dresden. At the same time, the Jehmlich brothers from Dresden replaced two stops, and in 1902/1903 they produced the then up-to-date concert pitch. Further restorations were carried out by Hermann Eurle Orgelbau from Bautzen in 1937, 1941, 1968 and 1992/1993. Read more… 

Jehmlich Orgelbau left its mark on music-making throughout Saxony for more than 200 years. In 1808, the brothers Gotthelf Friedrich, Johann Gotthold and Carl Gottlieb founded the family’s tradition of organ building in Cämmerswalde in the Erzgebirge. Since 2006, Ralf Jehmlich has been the sixth generation to run the company in Dresden. This makes Jehmlich Orgelbau the oldest surviving organ builder in the world. Read more…

Preserve. Commemorate. Remember

The transformation processes in the Central Saxon Erzgebirge are associated with long-term changes in the world of work on the one hand, and with sharp political and social turning points on the other. In some places in Oederan, the preservation of tradition, dealing with the experience of dictatorship (Sprungmarke: Mitoraj) and historical commemoration played a particularly important role.  

Gahlenz village museum: a private initiative during the GDR era 

The village museum is a tourist attraction in the Gahlenz district. The listed three-sided farmyard with its collections has even been recognised as a landscape museum. It originated from a private initiative for the 800th anniversary celebrations in 1982. One of the initiators was Peter Schönfeld, the then chairman of the Agricultural Production Cooperative (LPG). An exhibition was to preserve the village and agricultural history of Gahlenz for future generations. 

In 1985, the initiative bought an old farm (dating back to 1653) to make the exhibition permanently accessible. The renovation and conversion into a museum began during the final years of the GDR. A new era began on the farm in 1991 with the official founding of the local heritage society. Thanks to the wide-ranging participation of a lot of dedicated people, the museum was opened on 4 July 1992. 

The Gahlenz village museum shows rural life, traditions and customs on the historic three-sided farm from 1850 to 1950. On display are a stable house, the barn, the outbuilding, the garden, a clay oven and the horse gin. The exhibition focuses on farm labour and the associated craft techniques. Guests can also experience live demonstrations of this several times a year. 

The former horse gin, a machine for generating power, is the location of a work of art on the Purple Path. Polish artist Gregor Gaida installed the Polygonal Horse here. Read more

Gahlenz roots: the artist Igor Mitoraj (1944-2014) 

The internationally renowned artist Igor Mitoraj also has his roots in the village of Gahlenz. He was born there in 1944. His mother had been deported there from Poland by the National Socialists as a so-called “foreign labourer”. She fell in love during this difficult time of forced labour with a French prisoner of war. After the liberation in 1945, the father returned to France, and the mother to Poland with her one-year-old son. Igor Mitoraj grew up in Grojec, where his mother came from. The small town is located near the Auschwitz Nazi extermination camp. 

From 1963 to 1968, Mitoraj attended the Academy of Fine Arts in Krakow and graduated from Tadeusz Kantor’s painting class. He then studied painting and graphic art at the École nationale supérieure des beaux-arts de Paris (National School of Fine Arts). During a stay in South Africa, he discovered sculpting with terracotta and bronze for himself. This creative impulse led Mitoraj to create over 120 sculptures, which have been shown at exhibitions in Europe, the USA and Japan. 

One of the main themes of Mitoraj’s sculptures is the human body. However, he is not only interested in its natural beauty, but also in its fragility. He explores the deeper aspects of human nature in his formal language in a variety of ways, attempting to get to the bottom of the influence of time and circumstances. He often draws on themes from Greek and Roman mythology but gives them a modern twist. One of his most famous motifs is the Eros Bendato (Eros Bound) on the market square in Krakow. 

Jewish forced labourers: Oederan satellite camp of Flossenbürg concentration camp 

Oederan’s historical heritage includes the painful history of a women’s satellite camp of the Flossenbürg concentration camp (Bavaria), as well as the biography of Igor Mitoraj. In September 1944, the SS deported more than 500 Jewish women and girls from Auschwitz-Birkenau to Oederan. 200 women came from Poland, 150 from Czechoslovakia, 60 from Hungary, others came from the Netherlands, Germany and the Soviet Union. 

They performed forced labour on the site of a former textile factory. The factory produced ammunition. It was part of the Auto Union AG Chemnitz group of companies where the vehicles of the famous car brands Horch, DKW, Wanderer and Audi were originally produced. The SS evacuated the camp on 14 April 1945, as the Soviet army’s front line drew ever closer. An odyssey to Bohemia began for the women. They were finally liberated by the Red Army in Theresienstadt. 

Today there is a memorial plaque at the entrance to the former satellite camp for women. Read more

A typical mentality in the Central Saxon Erzgebirge 

Innovation and a sense of tradition, openness and immigration have always ensured the survival of the Central Saxon Erzgebirge. All of this bears witness to many transformation processes that reach far back into history and in some cases continue to this day. The region was always on the move. People came and went with the economic ups and downs, reinvented themselves culturally and further developed crafts and technology. This is still the case today. 

Oederan’s textile heritage: DIE WEBEREI museum 

The “Die Weberei” weaving museum shows the impressive history of the technology and working world of the weaving industry in Oederan over an area of 1,000 m2. For example, visitors can see a complete mechanical weaving mill that was in operation from 1920 to 1976. Some of the exhibits can even still be experienced in operation. Hand looms can be tried out under supervision, and textile and weaving courses are also held regularly. 

Today, the looms in the museum are also still used to produce colourful cloths, which are used to make high-quality home textiles, clothing and accessories by hand. These can also be purchased in the museum shop. The “Family holiday in Saxony” initiative of the Free State of Saxony has awarded and certified the Oederan weaving museum as a “family-friendly experience”. Read more 

Reinventing again and again: the Oederan folk art school 

As with the weaving museum, which preserves the town’s textile heritage, the people of Oederan cultivate Erzgebirge handicrafts at the folk art school. It was founded in 1967 as a state institution for the preservation of tradition. Five specialisms were taught at the time: woodcarving, wood design, painting and graphics, arts and crafts and textile design. 

Thanks to many dedicated Oederan residents, the folk art school survived the social and political upheaval of 1989. It lives on as a positive GDR legacy and is continues to reinvent itself creatively. Today there is a wood workshop, a printing workshop, a darkroom for photography and a ceramics workshop. Several flexible rooms offer space for painting, textile design and handicraft techniques, while concerts, cabaret and puppet shows take place in the large hall. 

The folk art school is open to everyone and offers 35 courses for children, young people and adults in its annual programme, as well as more than 40 different projects on topics such as ceramic building, pottery, wood design, painting and graphics, textile design, model making, photography and basket weaving. The folk art school is a creative meeting place in Oederan and an active partner of the Capital of Culture Chemnitz 2025. Read more

Looking behind the façade: sculptures in the “Drei Schwanen” inn 

The historic “Drei Schwanen” inn is located in the centre of Oederan, close to the market square. Napoleon once stayed there on his campaign to Russia in 1812. The old walls tell of a varied history of use: cigarette factory, nursery, fashion house, stove maker’s shop and grocery shop. In recent decades it has stood empty and fallen into disrepair. Although most of the building has since been demolished due to the risk of collapse, it is worth taking a look behind the renovated façade. In future, the stone sculptures from the artists’ symposium “2. Annaberger Impuls”, a Capital of Culture Chemnitz 2025 project, will find its permanent home.