There are apocalyptic scenes in the new “crime scene: demolition edge” from Cologne. Inspectors Ballauf and Schenk have to solve the murder of a doctor in the village of Bützenich. There, the investigators experience first-hand the desolation in the abandoned village, which has to make way for open-cast mining and suffers a sad existence. Only a few residents remain in Bützenich, most residents have fled or have already been resettled. But how real is it all? Everything just an invention of the screenwriters or reality?

Although the village of Bützenich is a fictitious name, the fate of many comparable villages near the Rhenish metropolis of Cologne is true to life. The village with a similar fate most frequently discussed in the media in recent months is Lützerath. The residents there have been relocated since 2006, and this was finally completed in October 2022. In the spring of 2023, the energy company RWE had the village completely demolished – despite the massive protests of numerous demonstrators.

But Lützerath is just one of many place names in a long list of resettlement in this area near Cologne. Resettlement began as early as the 1960s so that lignite could be extracted from the Garzweiler opencast mining area. Reisdorf, Muchhaus, Oberschlag, Elfgen, Priesterrath and Garzweiler itself have already had to give way. Of course with some massive social problems.

With Lützerath, however, the resettlement is said to have finally come to an end. The state government of North Rhine-Westphalia and RWE only agreed in October 2022 to stop mining lignite in the Garzweiler opencast mine from 2030. Villages that have already started with resettlement measures were saved and will be preserved for the future. Residents who have already resettled can even buy back their houses from RWE.