The girl in an East German coal mine

In 1981 Marie-Claude Hawkes was an 18-year-old living in Amiens, France when she embarked on a trip to East Germany looking for adventure…

Among her experiences was working in a lignite coal mine. Lignite is considered the lowest rank of coal and the most harmful coal to human health but was a major fuel source for East German power stations.

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Marie-Claude travelled from Paris to Leipzig on an overnight train, staying at the International Youth Camp in Borna. From there she travelled every day to work in the open lignite mine at Espenhain, about 16 miles from Leipzig.

She describes working at the mine, weekends off, visits to Leipzig, Magdeburg, Weimar and a potato peeling factory…!

It’s a fascinating view of East Germany away from the capital Berlin. Marie- Claude’s story continues here

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If you are interested in East Germany we can highly recommend our friends over at Radio GDR.