Lützerath: a village that symbolizes everywhere German climate policy is failing. Where science is ignored, deals with private companies are made behind closed doors, and greed-fueled private interests are placed above the common good and legitimized by the state.
For over two years, climate activists have been occupying the village in resistance. They left their everyday lives behind to defend this village. They organized a close community that is not based on endless profits and constant growth, but strives to ensure the well-being of all.
In January 2023, this conflict came to a head with the start of evictions and the subsequent proclamation of Day X. I wanted to support the fight alongside many others. I spent a week in the alternative camp “Unser Aller Camp” [Our All Camp] just a few minutes from Lützi. The main task was to maintain the camp’s infrastructure to support the activists who had been evicted from Lützerath. There was a lot to do and many willing to lend a hand. Chalk it up to the quick distribution of tasks, evenings together around the camp’s only radiant heater or the constant conversation among strangers, united by a common goal. These moments created a sense of a strong community.
I spent a late shift in the tent welcoming people from Lützi. This evening was one of the most memorable events of the week. I met people who were ready to return to Lützi immediately after their first eviction, but also those with dark rings under their eyes, faces marked by bruises and on the verge of a mental breakdown due to the abnormally inhumane behavior of the police. After the end of the large demonstration, which was attended by 35,000 people, I started on my way home with an uneasy feeling, which was justified over the next few days: The activists had been cleared. Within a month the village was razed to the ground.
It’s hard to put into words how disappointed I was and still am. Politicians betrayed us and broke their own promises. They allowed the police to brutally evict people in the interests of RWE, a German energy company. Choosing short-term profits for the few over climate protection for all framed as a success for climate protection.
On the one hand, the work left me feeling empowered by the connections and commitment expressed through action. On the other hand, I struggled a lot with hopelessness, especially after the time in the camp. I started to question my kind of activism and how I want to continue in the future. Yet I have not lost hope.
What motivates me the most is seeing how many people keep on, organizing and taking to the streets.
Lützi lives on with us in the form of knowledge, community, shared experiences, and memories. The mark of confronting one’s own internal struggles and the collective. This can no longer be taken from us!
[Note: Lüzerath, or also called “Lützi” by many climate activists, was a small village in the West of Germany. In the beginning of the year 2023 it was demolished by RWE, a big energy company, to be able to expand coal mining in this region.]
Story by Clara
Art by Luise Hesse @lufie.nesse. Luise is a German illustrator and part of Climate Illustrated’s art team.
Sign up to get inspirational stories, articles, and artist recommendations in your inbox every other week.