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A life from the GDR economy to fallow deer

Andreas Dorn started at the Rackwitz foundry almost 46 years ago, now he is moving into passive partial retirement: a full-fledged working life from the GDR economy to fallow deer.

Born in Delitzsch in 1949, 12 kilometers from Rackwitz near Leipzig: Andreas Dorn was a child in the declared “workers and farmers state” GDR and actually wanted to be a farmer. But the father was a master at VEB Leichtmetall Rackwitz and prevailed: The son becomes a worker, learns locksmith in the same company.

So he started in 1970 with a thirst for action, just 20 years young, as an engineer in the office for requirements planning. “There was so little work that I wanted to get out of the car straight away.” One year of apprenticeship, then three years of two weeks of school and one week at the company, all the way to the engineer: Andreas Dorn benefited from this short-term experiment in the GDR education system.

Sending a daily fax with key operational figures was the first responsibility. Dorn pushed for more, “and I have actually kept this way my whole life: if there is something to do, the Dorn will respond. I always put all the work on the table that I could get. ”So after completing his conscription in the reconnaissance battalion at the Rackwitz plant, he got on again as a group leader for material planning and led six people. Four years later, Dorn already had 18 buyers among them, "but everything was lacking. & Nbsp;

Hamster purchases, giant camps, exchange exchanges, lack of economy

Therefore, whatever was available was bought in bulk, in the Leipzig store, which was "approved for social needs". Whether rulers, door lock installation devices, electrical switches ...

"The main thing was that you had something. We had six big camps and lots more small places for all that stuff. For such a stock of materials, they would have to throw me out today, ”says Dorn.

The GDR, however, dealt with a parallel system: exchange economy, in the combine and on state-regulated exchange exchanges. "We always had a booth there. Because the money wasn't worth anything. What interested in the GDR was goods and services, ”recalls Andreas Dorn. So his people drove by truck for just a few washers all the way to Dresden.

In the mid-1980s, the shortage in the GDR got worse. “An analyst would have noticed the trend. But we were brought up and used to always having to deal with adverse conditions, ”says Andreas Dorn. He was now responsible for 78 employees, as head of material procurement for the entire 3000-man operation. But only temporarily: "You had to be in the SED at this management level." So he finally stepped in and then had the position.

"Dear comrades" - and then the turning point came

Every first Monday of the month was party rally, every other Monday party party, and 45 marks contribution had to be shelled out. "That was quite a bit, and so we always talked about the 'expensive comrades'." But Dorn earned 1,150 marks gross, "you could make a good living out of it under our circumstances".

Then the turning point came

Not suddenly and suddenly the people of the GDR rose within weeks. But the approval crumbled, something started to take place and grew considerably in autumn 1989, also at VEB Leichtmetall Rackwitz. Dorn: “Once someone raised a real German flag without the GDR hammer and circle. Then the New Forum opposition group also formed here, and there were wild discussions in the cultural hall for around 300 people. “Democratic socialism was the vision - and freedom!

"Didn't feel so locked up"

Dorn: “Personally, I didn't feel so locked up, I was a lot and happy to be on the Baltic Sea beach. Just longing for Mexico, I've had that for decades. ”Production at the giant Rackwitz plant was still relatively normal. The prices were regulated, across the GDR. Then the GDR opened the borders, allowed its citizens to travel freely - one people breathed a sigh of relief.

"But it also started something that put me on a new, correct path in life," says Dorn and says: scrap. There was soon a car dealer with western brands in every village, but more and more junk cars drove to the west and were sold there far below value. "We normally had around 20,000 tons of scrap in stock in Rackwitz, but fewer and fewer came from the GDR."

The VEB line brooded and Dorn raised his hand again. "Now it was decided that I had to buy back scrap from the West." Anyone who has been active in the scrap metal market knows that things are going to be robust. Without specialist knowledge, you pay for the wrong dealers. The VEB, ie Dorn, paid too - tuition. “The usual way of doing business was completely new to me. I must have made incorrect purchases for 500,000 marks. "After that he knew better who he could do business with.

The unit was followed by waves of layoffs

Nevertheless, when German unity came on October 3, 1990, the VEB went downhill. All "state-owned companies" now belonged to the Treuhand as the central German authority for the reclassification of the GDR companies towards a market economy. Although the Rackwitz plant had previously exported to the NSW, the non-socialist economic area, the signs were bankrupt - too many people, too little productivity. "There were waves of redundancies, always new, again and again. & Nbsp; A tearful time. "Dorn remembers scenes at the shredder:" Some were drunk, others cried. And then they were home. Severance pay and out. “

First, personnel positions were cut, then entire companies. The production of powder and paste for paints, gas concrete blocks and pyrotechnics was discontinued. The top-heavy administration has shrunk. The cooling element construction was abandoned, the workshop for wagon fittings was closed.

Didn't Andreas Dorn, like many of his countrymen, simply want to go over to the West? "I've never had the thought of leaving here in my whole life. I am actually a loyal person, I earned the job only two kilometers from my house in Hohenossig, always good enough and in a good position. ”In addition, Dorn was on the move Monday through Thursday anyway in the West to buy scrap. An employee of his former 78 people, Barbara Wagner, held the position in the plant. She also stayed all the coming years - and is now taking over the management from him.

But the scent of the big wide world? Andreas Dorn enjoyed it privately. Traveling around the world became his passion. Egypt and Australia, Rio, Peru, Venezuela, Senegal, Tanzania, Antarctica ... "My best trip was eight days with sleeping bags through the Sinai desert."

The trustee wound up

At home, on the other hand, the world was also interested in VEB Leichtmetall Rackwitz. The trust should handle: close or hand over. There were several interested parties for this plant who inspected the location. For example, the metal company from Frankfurt am Main, which withdrew again. Then head to head a tug of war from the aluminum foundry Honsel with the Gottschol brothers from Ennepetal. The big brother, Hans-Joachim, was even president of Gesamtmetall; “He could talk, fascinating,” Dorn recalls.

The aluminum plant in Rackwitz was well known, it supplied profiles and strips almost exclusively to West Germany. Amag, Tubus Metall and AluTeam in Düren were also discussed. But the Gottschol brothers won, and the “little one”, the younger, led Aluminum Rackwitz from 1994.

scrap was needed

Another wave of layoffs further thinned out the workforce. The rolling mill was shut down. All department heads have been replaced. "My position was below, I was allowed to stay," says Andreas Dorn. In addition, he knew and was able to scrap quite well. Gottschalk needed scrap, it was the metal that mattered. "So my reputation grew with our new owner."

Looking back at these years, Dorn says: “They didn't spill the money from the trust viciously. This created the machine park that still serves as a good basis for us in the foundry. But Gottschols took over with the press shop. ”

The metal suppliers first reported that they had no longer received any money for their deliveries. The money had always been scarce. Now it was completely missing. In 1996 Gottschol went bankrupt. The Rackwitz plant was hanging by a thread. Andreas Dorn: “The trust wanted to close us. We drove to Berlin and demonstrated. Here came the sequester, the works council gained more and more power, the management was locked out, and burning barrels stood at the entrances. It went haywire. "

Creditors tried to save their capital, "the crane supplier even stole the circuit card that was necessary for the operation". At the same time, scrap theft increased, almost every day. “Our old employees literally fought that nothing could get away.” Andreas Dorn even remembers a chase by forklift. "But that's history."

Hydro as a "Promised Land"

In the worst turmoil, the foundry got out of hand because its boss had long been sick and gone. “Nobody felt responsible. I was afraid that everything would end here, ”says Dorn. When the company was even completely at rest, “I went to the managing director at the time and had a power of attorney written for the foundry manager. I still have the note today, ”says Dorn.

But he had no idea about watering. So he was very happy when Hydro took over Rackwitz in 1998. “Hydro was the promised land for us in the foundry. Investments were made here immediatelyHydro focused on the foundry and the press shop as independent units, took care of the rounding up and marketing of the other, spacious area and, with Kjetil Heggestad as manager for the way out of the crisis, also sent Wolfgang Reinke as new foundry manager.


Reinke taught the Rackwitzer founders the first hydro values. For example, throwing away everything you don't need. Occupational safety. New work clothes. Order. A new canteen. New, well-equipped changing rooms. A broad home mural for the local pride, in the middle of the company. A central administration instead of the many distributed rooms. Dorn: “I could never have imagined what changes there were to these two in just one year. It was the most intense, educational time in my entire working life. "

Dorn's office so far “had also been the weighing house, without central heating, it was raining in, and the wallpaper was coming down. Now I came to a new building, a large room of my own, the important colleagues on call and everything right next to the foundry. ”

Reinke appointed Dorn as deputy head of the Rackwitz foundry, production manager and head of metal purchasing. Andreas Dorn also held this position when Wolfgang Reinke retired and Thomas Sturzbecher became the new manager in August 2000, today also as managing director of the independent Hydro Aluminum Foundry Rackwitz GmbH.

In view of the increase in performance - and the employees

Thomas Sturzbecher praises Dorn as “a real veteran. In his working life, the entire eventful history of our plant is reflected, including the energy with which we all made this foundry increasingly productive. ”With Andreas Dorn, a real doer says goodbye, who is always the progress and performance improvement of the company also had an eye on employee interests.

In particular, Dorn's loyalty has been appreciated by Sturzbecher since he was 16 years younger and became the boss: "Even if he is of course a really strong character, we have always found a common line."

It went on and on, investments were made in every hydro year. "Only that gave us the opportunity to further improve our own performance," says Andreas Dorn. This was often associated with hardships, "for example when we tore down an entire gable wall in 1999 to expand the company and then had to produce it in an open building in the fiercely cold winter".

Today Andreas Dorn from the gallery enjoys the view of Tipp-Topp production facilities, raves about the "most beautiful and clearest of all scrap stores at Hydro" and is impressed that Hydro has also approved the most recent investment: 500,000 euros for the construction of an automatic one Batch for the chamber homogenization of the press bolts. This measure, completed last April, does not make the process faster or cheaper. Dorn: “It only serves to eliminate an accident risk for our employees. On my last few days, that shows me once again how seriously Hydro takes occupational safety, and that makes me really happy this year. ”


This has to be explained: “The aluminum location in Rackwitz is large and has a large area of greenery. How do you take care of all the meadows? I first thought of ostriches. ´No local animal species´, the local government declined. Well, then I got four fallow deer and fallow deer in the Ore Mountains, ”says Dorn. They are now grazing the area. And are always happy when Dorn comes back. Almost his entire professional life, especially in the Hydro years, he came to the factory more or less every day, "even on Saturdays and Sundays," says Andreas Dorn. He'll miss that now. But there is still a good reason for the outgoing works deputy to check back regularly with Hydro in the future: to feed and water for a pack of fallow deer.

This text is machine translated. To view the original German text, click on DE on the top right of this window

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