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Culture

Coal Mining Venture May Force Removal of Nietzsche's Remains

Philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche has been dead since 1900, but he could still be in for a move. A strip-mining company is taking samples of coal near his hometown of Roecken, where he's also buried.

A winding tower is pictured during the morning sunrise at the former coalmine Niederberg

Will the "philosopher of the hammer" have to make way for coal drilling equipment?

As reported in the daily Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, Mibrag, a mining company, has been carrying out exploratory drilling near the village in the eastern German state of Saxony-Anhalt since 2006.

If the samples prove positive, the surrounding towns might have to be demolished to make room for strip-mining.

That could mean the destruction of the house where one of the 20th century's most influential thinkers was born and nurtured his adolescent will to power.

It would also likely force the philosopher's grave to be moved elsewhere

Residents resistant

Nietzsche

Ashes to ashes or, um, coal?

A fair number of Roecken's 170 residents seem unhappy about the possibility of an involuntary move. The Green party, the only party to oppose the drilling, recently polled 36.4 percent in elections -- and they posted even higher numbers in other neighboring hamlets.

But the larger surrounding area, which was part of communist former East Germany and suffers from high unemployment, has different priorities. In September 2007, the state parliament of Saxony-Anhalt approved an energy policy that would allow for new mining operations near Roecken.

Local parliaments have also since voiced their support for continuing coal mining in the region.

"Around half of the visitors to the Nietzsche memorial here want to talk to us about coal," the pastor currently occupying Nietzsche's boyhood home told the ddp news agency.

Mibrag said it will try to respect the area's cultural heritage, should mining plans go ahead.

"If it's possible to dig around it, we will," company spokeswoman Angelika Diesener told ddp. "We're aware of the cultural and historical treasures here."

Diesener added that the company had not drawn up any concrete plans for moving the village -- or Nietzsche's final resting place.

Even if that situation changes, the philosopher will have a few more years of peace and quiet -- the earliest mining would commence would be 2025.

Still, it would be ironic if the philosopher-poet does have to make way for the backhoes and bulldozers since one of his most famous couplets reads: "Light is everything that I touch/ And coal everything I leave behind."

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