The earth below Lützerath is home to many stories. One has been known for a long time: brown coal can be found under the settlement, which is why it will soon be completely excavated. Another, not-so-old, tale is added at 12:48 p.m. Monday, when two men look back into the daylight. They are called "Pinky" and "Brain" here. The two hooded men stayed in a tunnel in the ground in Lützerath for days – in a confined space and with the aim of preventing the hamlet from being cleared. On this day, however, they leave the shaft, quite unexpectedly for some observers. With deep circles under their eyes and a shopping bag in their hands, they drag themselves to a crowd of journalists. However, they do not want to speak to the press at first. How are you? Where you go? And wasn't that incredibly dangerous? All of these questions initially remain unanswered.
Minutes later, the energy company RWE gives an answer as to how the whole thing is to be classified. The last activists would have left the former settlement, he says. The eviction is over. And the "dismantling" of Lützerath will be completed "in the coming days". It seems that all Lützerath stories will soon come to an end. Flashback: In the middle of last week, the evacuation of the small village on the outskirts of the Garzweiler lignite opencast mine in North Rhine-Westphalia began. This should enable RWE to excavate the lignite underneath. That was decided politically. However, climate activists occupied the village and wanted to defend it. Hundreds were taken away by police or left voluntarily in the days that followed.
The exception: the two men in the tunnel. On Thursday, when the eviction was well advanced, a video suddenly appeared on YouTube. Two masked people, they call themselves "Pinky" and "Brain", stated that they had retreated to a tunnel under Lützerath. "Pinky" and "Brain" - these are also the names of two white mice from an animated series. The cartoon rodents regularly try to take over the world - with little success. Their namesakes in Lützerath had a different goal: to delay the eviction as long as possible. At some point, according to RWE, they really were the last remaining activists in the village.
Emergency services assessed the situation as quite critical. The Aachen police chief Dirk Weinspach looked at the shaft himself and said afterwards that his impression was that the construction was not safe. But on Monday, according to RWE, the two left the shelter voluntarily. One is "relieved" that the "life-threatening situation" could be ended in this way. Experts were brought in to convince the two of them. "A rescue from the tunnel against the announced resistance of the people would have been associated with high risks, also for the rescue workers."
Watch the video: Police reject allegations of violence after the Lützerath demo.
A spokeswoman for the activist initiative "Lützerath Lebt" says that the two went voluntarily. There were also talks between the two and parliamentary observers of the Greens. However, she does not describe the situation underground as threatening: the two were "fine", the oxygen levels were "appropriate". "They built this tunnel safely and prepared themselves very, very well for this situation," she says. What does that mean? Well, the eviction is over. The activists have now "perhaps lost" - but at the same time, from their point of view, a lot has been gained. Namely in the debate about coal and climate. "Lützerath – everyone in Germany has heard about it," she says. For them, this story is clearly not over yet. A sequel might follow.
The North Rhine-Westphalian Prime Minister Hendrik Wüst (CDU) meanwhile campaigned before the synod of the Evangelical Church in the Rhineland for support for the coal compromise, which is currently leading to the generation of larger quantities of coal, but also an early phase-out of coal-fired power generation in 2030 NRW includes. Nobody made it easy for themselves. After the complete demolition of Lützerath, the energy company RWE wants to excavate the coal underneath. A company spokesman said the bucket-wheel excavators could reach the former village as early as March or April.