The closure of Maxhütte in 1992

On 18 May 1990, VEB Maxhütte Unterwellenborn was transformed into the corporation Maxhütte Unterwellenborn GmbH. At the same time, Maxhütte was separated from the Brandenburg Quality and Stainless Steel Combine. The changed market situation and the change of currency clearly showed the economic weaknesses of the company.

Without the comprehensive renewal of the metallurgical preliminary stages, the separation from uneconomical business areas and a drastic reduction of the workforce, a continuation of the company was impossible.

The Treuhandanstalt had refused the investment funds that would have been necessary to realise a reorganisation concept of the Maxhütte management. The management had already launched a number of initiatives to attract private investors, including ARBED Luxembourg.

The first divisions of the company were closed down, spun off or privatised. At the beginning of 1992, the administrative board of the Treuhandanstalt decided to sell the Kombinerte Formstahlstraße (KFS), including a total area of approx. 630,000 square metres, to the ARBED Group. In the purchase contract, ARBED undertook to build a new electric steel mill with a continuous casting plant in Unterwellenborn by 1995.

This ensured the preservation of the Unterwellenborn steel site. After the transfer of KFS with its 620 employees to Stahlwerk Thüringen GmbH, a subsidiary of the ARBED Group, on 1 July 1992, the metallurgical preliminary stages of Maxhütte (blast furnaces, blast steel plant, ingot mill) were shut down on 10 July 1992. This was also the final end for the operation of the gas machine centre.

The conditions of the purchase agreement with ARBED, but also the safeguarding of the economic activities of private companies, business areas still to be privatised and new companies to be established inside and outside Maxhütte Unterwellenborn GmbH, as well as the safeguarding of the heat supply for the district of Saalfeld-Gorndorf, required the temporary continuation of Maxhütte Unterwellenborn GmbH in liquidation (i.L.) and also of the gas machine centre. A concept was developed to transform the old industrial site of Maxhütte into an industrial and commercial area in Unterwellenborn.

The Heidelberg lawyer Gordon Rapp, appointed by the Treuhandanstalt as liquidator, took office at the end of 1992. The previous management was replaced. The aim of the liquidator was to wind up the remaining business of Maxhütte with as little effort as possible. This included the following areas of work:

- Creation of construction freedom for the building of the new electric steelworks through demolition and dismantling,
- Execution of the media supply for the Unterwellenborn site up to the new development of the entire site including the heating of connected residential areas and companies,
- demolition and dismantling of the buildings and facilities,
- Sale and scrapping of the decommissioned facilities and stock,
- Sale of the remaining areas of Maxhütte Unterwellenborn GmbH,
- creation of solutions for the employees,
- financial and legal liquidation of the company.

A demolition project was also drawn up for the gas machine centre while preserving the gas dynamo, which had already been listed. It soon became apparent that the liquidator was anxious not only to wind up, but also to maintain maximum employment with great commitment. This provided him with the support of the remaining employees of the residual company Maxhütte Unterwellenborn GmbH i.L.

The project to transform the old industrial site of Maxhütte into an industrial and commercial area with preservation of the industrial metallurgical core was seamlessly continued under the direction of the liquidator. The gas machine centre acquired its own significance in this process.

In negotiations with the Stae Development Corporation of Thuringia (LEG), which had been established in Thuringia and whose tasks included marketing old industrial sites and preparing them for new commercial use, the liquidator succeeded in selling the remaining areas of Maxhütte that had not yet been marketed, including all buildings and facilities, to LEG. This was a decisive step towards securing Unterwellenborn as an industrial and commercial location. The gas machine centre thus became the property of LEG, which also took over the sponsorship of all ongoing labour promotion projects in 1994.

The role of the Society Work and Environment Region Saalfeld (GAUS) and the employment promotion projects at the Gasmaschinenzentrale

By the end of 1991, the number of employees had shrunk from about 6,000 in 1989 to about 3,500 as a result of the spin-off of branches, migration, especially to the old federal states, retirement and early retirement, the first redundancies and other spin-offs, especially from the cultural, educational and social sectors. These processes continued in 1992. As early as 1991, the management of Maxhütte made intensive use of the opportunity offered by the Treuhandanstalt, the Free State of Thuringia and the Federal Labour Office to develop employment promotion projects for employees who had been made redundant or were threatened with redundancy. As an organisational and business management basis for these processes, the Gesellschaft Arbeit und Umwelt Region Saalfeld (GAUS) was founded in February 1991 together with the district and other companies in the region.

One of the first employment promotion projects was the Maxhütte Technical Museum project in the gas machine centre, which, however, was not approved until 1 November 1992 for one full-time and one part-time employee with an expected duration until the end of 1993. When the closure of the Maxhütte was expected, there were ideas outside the Maxhütte to preserve the entire process of pig iron and steel production as an industrial monument and museum. This would have endangered the establishment of new companies and the preservation of the steel location.

The management of Maxhütte therefore commissioned the industrial archaeologist Dr. Dr. Gerhard Henniger to develop a concept to ensure the protection of the monument while at the same time minimising the space required for it. The result of Gerhard Henniger's work was a solution involving the use or partial use of the gas engine centre for the accommodation of objects worthy of preservation in connection with the gas dynamo, which had already been listed in the GDR. A list of these objects was compiled within the framework of the ABM Museum of Technology. During the demolition measures that began in 1992, it was therefore already possible to make targeted collections.

Certain demolitions had to be carried out carefully in order to preserve objects worthy of protection, such as the old ladle sintering plant. For this purpose, additional funds amounting to DM 40,000 were granted by the Higher Monument Authority at the request of Maxhütte in order to compensate for the higher demolition costs in the case of targeted dismantling.The labour promotion projects, which initially started under the direction of Maxhütte, culminated in the large-scale ABM "Demolition and Dismantling" for 396 workers, which began on 2 March 1992 with an initial 90 employees. The project represented a new development in job creation schemes throughout Germany, as participants were offered a large number of training and retraining measures during 50% of their working hours, which also had to be used. This placed high demands on the organisation, as work and training times had to be coordinated with six training providers in the region. Part of this project were measures for the protection of historical monuments in the gas machine centre.

In September 1993, almost the entire remaining workforce of Maxhütte was transferred to GAUS. The liquidator was left with only the 60 or so employees needed for the economic liquidation, which were continuously reduced in the following years. With around 800 employees, GAUS had become one of the largest employers in the region. The employees working at the gas machine centre in ABM were thus also GAUS employees. Their task was to ensure the preservation of the listed objects, to specifically secure further objects from the demolition and dismantling measures and to develop exhibition concepts.

The collection of the exhibition on the history of Maxhütte presented in the Kulturpalast had to be taken over, inventoried and reorganised after the closure of the Kulturpalast. The technical drawings of the confiscated objects were separated from the Maxhütte's drawing archive and collected in an archive. The extensive photo collection of the photo circle and the Maxhütte photographer, the legacies of the film circle as well as other working groups of the Kulturpalast were sifted through and sorted. This created a collection of historical documents that was indispensable for the work of the newly formed historical society, which had set itself the task of documenting the history of Maxhütte Unterwellenborn. Mrs. Ströhl, Mrs. Bialetzki and Mr. Krauße, who worked in the ABM women's project, rendered special services in this work.

Special difficulties in securing the collections in the gas engine centre, which had developed into a show monument, arose increasingly due to the intertwined, inconsistent and also not completely clarified legal situation. The buildings and land of the Gasmaschinenzentrale became the property of LEG through the purchase agreement between the liquidator and LEG. For the stored objects, the ownership relationship was unclear. In a contract between GAUS and the liquidator, a number of objects and collections were taken over by GAUS. In particular, it acquired the right to use the historical archive, which was not transferred to the State Archives.

With the sale of the shares of the district and the municipalities to a private investor, GAUS became a private company in 1996 with the business fields of container services, steel construction, demolition and dismantling. The continuation of the monument conservation work in the gas engine centre was thus once again endangered, since on the part of the owner of GAUS there was only an interest in a profitable exploitation of the objects collected in the gas engine centre.

The foundation of the Förderverein Gas Machine Centre in 1997

In this situation, the employees working in the Gasmaschinenzentrale labour promotion project and GAUS came up with the idea of creating an independent community and structure interested in the preservation of the collected objects by founding a sponsoring association. At a preparatory meeting on 18 December 1996, GAUS's managing director, Manfred Förtsch, explained the idea of founding a support association and explained why GAUS, as a commercial enterprise, was no longer a sponsor of employment promotion projects.

All invited guests spoke in favour of founding the association. Mr. Helmut Güntsch from Stahlwerk Thüringen and Mr. Hubert Müller from the municipality of Unterwellenborn assured their participation in the association. Mr. Rolf Weggässer from the District Office read out a letter from the District Administrator Dr. Thomas, who held out the prospect of support from the District for the founding association. In addition to the above-mentioned persons, the preparatory meeting on 18 December 1996 in the LEG advisory house was attended by

- Ruth Ströhl, Margitta Bialetzki, Karin Grießbach, Sieglinde Ehrhardt, Simone Spiegler, who worked in the ABM project Gasmaschinenzentrale, and
- the interested former Maxhütten employees Hans Rink, Siegfried Geigenmüller and Werner Weedermann.

The participants declared their intention to convene the founding meeting of the "Förderverein Schaudenkmal Gaszentrale Maxhütte" on 28 January 1997. At the same time, it was decided to recruit local authorities as well as companies and individuals as founding members.

In the following weeks, intensive work was done to draw up a draft of the association's statutes and a work plan for the association, and discussions were held to recruit members and to participate in the board of directors. On 28 January 1997, 18 people met in LEG's consulting house for the founding meeting of the association. After intensive discussions, the statutes were adopted and a board of 5 people was elected. The board was composed as follows:

Chairman: Manfred Förtsch; Deputy: Hans Joachim Lenzner; Treasurer: Hubert Keilwerth; Secretary: Dieter Kutz; Public Relations: Wolfgang Kaminsky.

In addition to the board members, the founding members included: Bernhard Hecker, Werner Weedermann, Elfriede Grehl, Wolfram Bialetzki, Helmut Güntsch, Erna Scheuermann, Kurt Scheuermann, Hans Rink, Ruth Ströhl, Margitta Bialetzki, Simone Spiegler as individuals as well as Stahlwerk Thüringen GmbH, Wohnungsgenossenschaft Maxhütte e.G., Geschichtsverein Maximilianshütte/Maxhütte zu Unterwellenborn e.V., Gemeinde Unterwellenborn and Verein der Siedler und Eigenheimer Unterwellenborn e.V..

A few days later, the town of Saalfeld joined the association. Thus the goal of bringing together individuals as well as municipalities and companies for the preservation of the gas machine centre had been achieved to some extent. In the years that followed, the association continued to work tenaciously and permanently on its expansion and qualification.

The conservation measures in the years 1997 - 2000

The association's statutes state that the association's aim is the all-round promotion of the Gasmaschinenzentrale monument and, in particular, the creation of a uniform ownership structure for the building, land and inventory. In 1997, with the privatisation of GAUS and the as yet undetermined monument status of collected objects, it was precisely the different ownership structures that had become a problem for the preservation of the collections.

LEG, as the owner of the building and the land, pursued the goal of achieving a commercial use of the gas machine centre and finding one or more investors for it. GAUS wanted to sell or scrap as many collection objects as possible in order to generate additional revenue and reduce costs associated with storage.

For the Förderverein, the first task was to raise public awareness of the problem of the Gasmaschinenzentrale and to provide evidence that there was a public interest in preserving the building and its collections. To this end, the "Days of the Open Monument" were repeatedly used and initial attempts were made with cultural events and exhibitions in the Gas Machine Centre. The visits of up to 1000 people, especially on the Open Monument Days, encouraged the board and the members of the association to continue their work.

Setbacks such as the scrapping of the preserved block-rolling stand and a number of compressors, as well as the clearing of part of the exhibition to create an open space in the hall from support 13 eastwards, led to rifts in the association and resignations in the board.

For LEG, however, the development and preservation of a museum could never be the goal of its work. Similarly, a commercial enterprise like GAUS could not be forced into the role of museum operator. The task was therefore to develop its own strategies for the preservation of the gas engine centre and to raise awareness in the region.

The board received special support again and again from the mayor of the municipality of Unterwellenborn, Horst Sterzik, from Helmut Güntsch from the Thuringia steelworks and from Rolf Weggässer from the district administration. Dr. Dr. Gerd Henniger, who is now responsible for industrial archaeology at the upper monument authority, had a beneficial effect on the LEG board. A particular success was the membership of the LEG project manager responsible for the Unterwellenborn site, Werner Weber, in the association. In many discussions with him, it was always possible to find ways to preserve and further develop the monument. A donation from LEG to the association was used as start-up financing.

The owner of GAUS was also persuaded. With a considerable donation, he contributed significantly to the association's financial survival in the first two years. Finally, in a contract between GAUS and the LEG, a substantial part of the inventory of the gas machine centre was transferred to the LEG's ownership. In a further contract between the Friends and LEG, clarity was achieved about the ownership of the remaining inventory items and the Friends' work in the Gas Machine Centre was put on a legal footing.

Without minimum annual funding and an operator, however, the end of all efforts was in sight. The association's funds from contributions, donations and other contributions could not cover the running costs of the entire building. It also became increasingly difficult for LEG to justify covering the running costs. Again and again, the closure of the object was considered until an investor could be found. This would have taken away the basis for the association's work.

After mutual visits and study of the work at the World Cultural Heritage Site "Old Völklingen Ironworks", contact with the managing director of the LEG Saarland, Mr Jäger, arranged by the owner of GAUS, brought insights for the further project work of the Friends and starting points for the design of the gas machine centre for holding events.

In a letter from the Friends to the District Administrator in 1997, the first figures on visitors and users of the Gas Machine Centre were given. According to this, 250 individual visitors and 400 pupils from schools in the region were registered, the "Treffpunkt Gaszentrale" was held for former Maxhütten employees and project days were organised for schools

The utilisation concept of the Förderverein

The task of developing their own strategies for the preservation of the Gas Machine Centre had, among other things, the goal of preventing the creation of facts with a closure of the object due to escalating costs and a lack of prospects for a cost-covering use, which would also discourage the members of the Friends in their efforts. Once closed for a longer period of time, it inevitably leads to decay and sooner or later ends with demolition. The active members and the board were guided by this in their further work.

Even before the formation of the Friends, a collection concept had been developed with the support of Dr. Dr. Henniger within the framework of the ABM Technikmuseum, which was the starting point and basis for the storage of objects in the gas engine centre and for the first exhibition projects. From the very beginning, however, it was clear that further possibilities for using the gas engine centre had to be sought. For this reason, in 1993, the Upper Monument Authority commissioned the Erfurt architectural firm of Guggenbichler + Wagenstaller + Ziegenrücker to conduct a study on the creation of an industrial museum. After several consultations, the study was not pursued further because of the high expenses expected for its realisation. The LEG also decided that the term "industrial museum" should no longer be used in public usage, probably for funding reasons. At the end of 1995, Mrs. Ströhl and Mrs. Bialetzki presented variants for the public use of the gas machine centre as part of the ABM technology museum. The work was based on the actual condition of the building after it was closed down and developed practical proposals for creating the necessary conditions for public use. Important here was the proposal of interim solutions for water supply and waste water drainage to the heating system, for sanitary facilities and kitchen, for access, security, fire protection, insurance and outdoor facilities. The concept was to present the production process of the Maxhütte in the first part of the exhibition as well as further exhibitions on the history of the Maxhütte, exhibition of models, the collection of paintings and changing themes such as mineral exchanges, photo exhibitions, company presentations, etc.

Under the objective of a "living monument", very concrete proposals for its use as a youth club, gastronomic facility (wine cellar "Hüttengeist"), for lecture events, workshop operation, flea market, etc. were worked out in detail. Particularly important was the proposal to open up the exhibition and the exhibits to children and young people and to cooperate more closely with the surrounding schools. From 1996 onwards, work on the realisation of these ideas was carried out within the framework of the ABM projects. After the foundation of the association, it took up these proposals in particular and, in contacts with the LEG, the GAUS, the Thuringian steelworks and the district, looked for ways to implement them step by step.

Based on this work and as a basis for discussions with the LEG, the monument authority, the local authorities and potential sponsors, the sponsoring association presented a concept for the show monument Gasmaschinenzentrale Maxhüt-te Unterwellenborn in February 1997. Based on the historical role of the Maxhütte in the region and the purposeful collection of objects in the gas engine centre since 1992, the location on the main road and in a developing industrial and commercial area, the proposal was made to develop the gas engine centre as a publicly accessible show monument with various exhibitions, which were described in detail. According to the financing possibilities, a step-by-step construction phase over several years was planned, in which above all employment promotion projects should be used. For the first time, the role of the Friends was presented as the basis for securing the continuous operation of the Schaudenkmal. A first highlight of the association's work was the presentation of the gas engine centre as part of the celebratory week 5 Years of the Thuringian Steelworks and 125 Years of the Maxhütte Unterwellenborn Steelworks. The project show monument was convincingly presented to the public both through the exhibition design in the Gas Machine Centre and through the presentation of the Gas Machine Centre at the central festive event in the Thuringia Steelworks. In 1997, intensive work continued on a comprehensive utilisation concept, the draft of which was discussed by the Executive Board from mid-1997. Under the title "Conversion proposal for the former Maxhütte Unterwellenborn gas works into a multifunctional Maxeum centre", a comprehensive work was presented which, based on all the concepts presented so far, a deficit analysis of the region and consideration of the advantages and disadvantages of the various possible uses, justified the following multifunctional use proposals: museum use, culture and sport, workshops, archival use and tourism. The surroundings of the gas engine centre were also included in the analysis and proposals were made for the construction of parking spaces, transport connections and the design of the outdoor facilities.

The exhibitions at the Gaszentrale

After the shutdown in 1992, the gas dynamo, which is a listed building, was the cause and the collection of objects worthy of preservation, which was started in the same year as part of labour promotion projects, was the starting point for the exhibitions in the Gasmaschinenzentrale. The very name of the first ABM in the Gasmaschinenzentrale indicates that the aim of the work was to build up a technology museum with the objects saved from being scrapped in the disused Maxhütte. The production process of the disused Maxhütte was to be recreated visibly and tangibly with the help of the collected objects.

The first concept for the exhibition was to be divided into two parts according to the conditions existing at the time. In part 1, the area of ore processing, the blast furnace and the casting hall were presented.

The following exhibits were secured for this purpose:
- Suspension railway (wagon, section, guideway)
- Mixing gallery,
- blast furnace supply (nozzle block. Elbow, hinge, blow mould, nozzle tip, slide hot blast pipe etc.),
- blast furnace tooling,
- parts of the blast furnace control room,
- drop-gear ball and magnetic crane

Part 2 focused on the DT 14 gas dynamo as the centrepiece of the technology collection. Ancillary equipment and aggregates included
- the historical control room,
- 2 exciter machines,
- 2 ignition converters,
- 2 start-up compressors,
- 4 compressed air bottles for 8 cubic metres each,
- intake and exhaust pipes.
Commissioned by the Higher Monuments Authority, the restorer Bernhard Mai submitted expert opinions and working instructions for conservation work on the objects intended for exhibition, and the restoration work was carried out by GAUS within the framework of work promotion measures. A constructive cooperation developed with Mr. Mai over several years, which was decisive for the preservation of the listed objects. Many adversities had to be overcome. In addition to cleaning and conserving the objects, suitable locations had to be prepared in the hall, scaffolding had to be erected for the safety of visitors, lighting had to be installed and, finally, inscriptions had to be prepared and attached to the objects. With a lot of initiative, especially by the last employee of the gas machine centre, Lothar Krauße, solutions and also provisional solutions could be found again and again. Windows were made and fitted by the restorers themselves, all conservation work was carried out according to the instructions given by the restorer, a solution for the demonstration operation of the gas dynamo was developed and the workshop was put into a usable condition.

At the same time, the first guided tours were arranged and facilities were created for showing the video films shot by Michael Goschütz during the shutdown and demolition of the Maxhütte. Ruth Ströhl, Margitta Bialetzki and Lothar Krauße, who worked on the ABM projects, acquired the necessary skills in a series of training courses and seminars.

Of particular importance was the design of the surroundings of the gas machine centre in connection with the preparation of the relocation of the federal road B 281. From the beginning of the project planning work, it was possible to achieve that a number of preserved large-scale objects from the demolitions and dismantlings be erected as industrial monuments along the new road route through the former factory premises or, like the roasting furnaces, be restored and preserved. The construction of the retaining wall on the east side of the gas engine centre made it possible to design the street around the monument. To the west, practically as a signpost for the exhibitions in the Gas Machine Centre, the last of the remaining steelworks converters was erected. The west junction enabled an optimal traffic connection to the B 281 and the creation of parking spaces on the north and east sides of the building were the first prerequisites for an expanded use of the entire property.
In the following years, the exhibitions in the hall were gradually expanded. The exhibits of the traditional cabinet from the Palace of Culture found their place in the annex at the northwest corner of the hall. The production process was completed and supplemented by exhibits from the steelworks, the rolling mill and ancillary areas. Another milestone in the development of the exhibitions was the installation of the panels on the history of the Maxhütte created by the history association as part of the events celebrating "125 years of steel production in Unterwellenborn" and "5 years of the Thuringia steelworks."

A special highlight was the handing over of an exhibition section "Steelworks Thuringia" by the managing director of the steelworks, Dr. Dengler, on 20 October 2001 on the occasion of the reopening of the gas machine centre. A discarded original scaffolding of the shaping steel mill as well as parts of the continuous casting plant demonstrate the new technology in the Thuringia steel mill and the development of the steel site since 1992, in addition to a model of the new steel mill and a series of new display boards.

A whole series of exhibitions have taken place in the gas machine centre in recent years. The first highlight of 2008 was the "Stationary Engine Meeting" in March, which now attracts many interested visitors from Germany and also from abroad every two years. Since 2007, there has been a regular model building exhibition every year, which is open to all categories and has become a permanent fixture in the regional exhibition calendar. This also includes the "AURA" biennial art exhibition initiated by Siegfried Geigenmüller, where regional amateur and professional artists present their works. In 2014, after the holdings of the former Maxhütten library were moved to the north side of the hall, an exhibition on the topic of "Renewable Energies" was added as a further exhibition area. This exhibition was designed entirely by members of the association themselves with the support of the state government from lottery funding.

The refurbishment of the gas engine centre

As early as 1996, the Unterwellenborn project management company had been commissioned by the LEG to develop ideas for renovation work in the gas machine centre under the title "Show object gas centre". The estimated total costs of more than DM 200,000 initially prevented the work from beginning. Only interior work was planned. This was preceded by the demolition of the social annex in the west and the south annex. This meant that there were no more social facilities in the gas machine centre. The interruption of the drinking water and sewage systems meant that the gas machine centre was cut off from these media. On the south side, the demolitions had created openings that posed a threat to the preservation of the listed buildings during the winter of 1996/97. The greatest dangers were eliminated through the ABM project's own efforts with financing of the necessary materials by the LEG. However, renovation of the south façade in particular was urgently needed to prevent deterioration. However, the renovation of the south façade by GAUS in 1997 could only close openings that had arisen in connection with the demolition of the annex due to insufficient funds.

Social facilities and rooms for people to stay were still missing. Due to dilapidated windows, the pigeon infestation could not be controlled, and new damage caused by weather conditions kept occurring. In mid-1999, a meeting was held at the LEG advisory centre with the participation of the higher and lower monument authorities and the Friends of the Gasworks with the aim of bringing together all the measures necessary to preserve the gasworks headquarters as a monument.

Both the Friends and the other participants agreed on the necessary work such as:
- Renovation of the outer façade and especially the windows and doors,
- demolition of unnecessary fixtures and pipes inside,
- securing the building's media supply,
- ensuring visitor safety by repairing the stairs and paths were discussed and a minimum programme confirmed.
The refurbishment of the Gasmaschinenzentrale Refurbishment of the exterior plaster 2001 Meeting of the AG on restoration and value conservation measures - Feb. 2001 Over 400 guests came to the reopening of the Gasmaschinenzentrale on 20 October 2001 On this basis, a complex measure was drawn up by the company Projektmanagement on behalf of the LEG as part of the employment promotion scheme for the refurbishment of the Gasmaschinenzentrale and submitted to the funding bodies. The LEG commissioned the Weimar architectural firm Schirmheck & Weber with the architectural design and supervision of the construction measures. The tender documents were prepared by the company Projektmanagement Unterwellenborn. After the measure was confirmed and the LEG assumed its own share of the financing, the Unterwellenborn company GAUS was awarded the contract for the construction. Project Management was commissioned to supervise the construction. The already proven restorer Bernhard Mai was responsible for the protection of the monument and the professional restoration. The measure ran from December 2000 to September 2001 and was approved as a structural adjustment measure (SAM) for 20 workers. By 1 December 2000, these 20 workers were additionally employed in the GAUS.

The work was grouped into 6 objects:
1. gutting and demolition work, especially in the foundation area, concreting of the east entrance area, paving work at the west and east entrances, clearing the switching station and refurbishing the steel stairs.
2. plumbing, heating and electrical installation including window and door installation
3. painting work on the roof trusses and the roof lantern
4. renovation work on the façade with partial plaster renewal, repair of the window ledges, removal of remains of the extensions, painting work
5. renovation work on windows, doors and gates
6. electrical installation
The Friends were always represented in the weekly meetings of the building committee. The representatives of the Friends tried to ensure that the construction work was completed on schedule and to the highest quality standards while protecting the exhibition as much as possible.

The most important exhibits were protected by wrapping them in foil. The exhibition was explained to the staff employed and smooth cooperation was organised with the ABM (job-creation scheme) initiated by the Friends and run by the Education Centre, which continued alongside the renovation work. The use of the crane and the trolley in the roof lantern made possible by the association was the prerequisite for a proper renovation of the roof trusses and the roof lantern. The use of the workshop obtained by the association made it possible to make windows oneself. Finally, a good cooperation developed between all those involved in the renovation project. It was proven that even complicated and complex projects can be realised within the framework of labour promotion projects.

There were particular disputes about the colour scheme of the façade. The reddish-brown colour chosen by the upper monument authority, which was supposed to be reminiscent of the colouring of the façade caused by the ejecta from the sintering plant, was not to everyone's liking. The reconstruction of the old saying on the north side was only possible thanks to the creative collaboration of our association friend Siegfried Geigenmüller.

More than 400 interested guests took part in the event organised by the Friends to mark the reopening of the gas engine centre after renovation on 20 October 2001. An essential step towards securing the Gas Machine Centre in the long term is also the multi-function room in the eastern basement, which was completed in 2008 and will help to secure an expanded use that will help to cover the costs.

Goals and projects

The focus of the association's work continues to be on securing the preservation of the Gas Machine Centre and creating a point of attraction for the region by covering the costs of its use. At the same time, the development of a lively association life has been a priority since its foundation. In addition to events at the Gas Machine Centre, visits to industrial museums, industrial monuments, meetings with associations with similar aims and other events were organised and carried out every year. Highlights were the trips to Eisenhüttenstadt to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the commissioning of the first blast furnace in the then EKO, to Brandenburg and Dessau, to Sulzbach-Rosenberg, to Völklingen, to the ore and coal mines of the Harz Mountains and to the Thale Industrial Museum, but also to nearby places such as Ziegenruck and Goldisthal. These events were always very popular, strengthened the sense of togetherness in the association, helped to develop new ideas and contributed to gaining new members.

A special project is the regular publication of the brief information "INFO-MAX" for members. In folded form, every member can find out about current problems and dates in the life of the association. Board members Wolfgang Kaminsky and Werner Zink have rendered outstanding services in its design and production. Further publicity was achieved through the promotion of television programmes which appeared on ARD and "Offener Kanal Saalfeld".

Since 2007, thanks to the support of Stahlwerk Thüringen GmbH, the association has also been present on the Internet, which has contributed greatly to its visibility. The direct mail function has made it much easier for many interested parties to communicate with the association.

The most important task, however, remains the organisation of public events at the Gasmaschinenzentrale. This is currently the only solution for generating income that can help cover costs. Building on the proposals for use drawn up by the association since 1997, Rudolf Behning in particular has worked for many years to determine all the prerequisites for larger events, to coordinate them with the responsible authorities and the LEG, and to create solutions for their realisation.

In an initiative launched by the association in 2002, companies in the region were called upon to help create the conditions for holding events in the Gas Machine Centre by making donations or providing services. Several companies have participated, so that in the meantime emergency lighting has been installed, a transport platform for the crane has been purchased, a cashier's room with office and an external staircase on the south side as a necessary escape route and access to the hall level have been built.
A decisive factor for the development of the events in the Gas Machine Centre was the confirmation of the structural adjustment measure "conservation of value of the show monument Gas Centre" from 1 March 2002 and the staffing of this measure with the association members Helmut Franke and Norbert Bösel. The Saalfeld Education Centre was won as the responsible body for this measure. The 5-year duration of the measure was an important prerequisite for the qualified and committed work of both employees. The association owes its upswing in events from 2002 onwards to their commitment, which is why the sudden death of Helmut Franke in 2007 hit the association particularly hard in a period that was so important for the further development of the Schaudenkmal. With a wealth of ideas and tireless dedication, Helmut Franke achieved a great deal for the association and thus created an unforgotten place for himself in our memory.

In their own efforts, the staff have designed and renovated meeting, recreation and demonstration rooms. This has already made it possible to organise a wide range of events, from using the open spaces for 300 visitors to smaller family celebrations. The stage donated by the Exner company and the more than 300 chairs handed over by the GAUS company guarantee the organisation of larger events up to family celebrations. The variety of events, especially in the years 2003 until today, would not have been possible without this preparatory work.

Today, it is impossible to imagine the event life of the region without the Gas Machine Centre. From large-scale events such as the 725th anniversary of Röblitz and the 75th anniversary of the Gasmaschinenzentrale to vintage car exhibitions, markets, art and model-making exhibitions, concerts, lectures and disco events, many things have been organised for the people of the region in recent years. The event participants always encounter the monuments of the metallurgical history of the Unterwellenborn steel site in the hall and are enchanted by the unique charm of the hall steeped in history.

Cooperation with like-minded associations for the preservation of tradition is also an important aspect of the activities of our sponsoring association. We have a lot in common with the Maxhütte Historical Society anyway, so that cooperation has existed here for a long time. Furthermore, in 2003 we signed a cooperation agreement with the mining museum "Schwarze Crux" in Suhl-Vesser. Since 2005, there has also been a declaration of cooperation between the two associations with the Historical Association for the History of the Schwarza Chemical Site.

The association continues to strive to make the now more than 75-year-old gas machine centre, which was indispensable for Maxhütte's operations until 1992, a place where former employees can find themselves again and look back with pride on their life's work. But also for all the people who once worked at the old Maxhütte and those who work at the Thuringia Steelworks today, the Gas Machine Centre should not only be a reminder, but also a living memorial that invites people to linger with interesting events again and again.

Dissolution of the Förderverein and continuation of the house by the Verein Kulturpalast Unterwellenborn e.V.

For various reasons, the Förderverein Gasmaschinenzentrale Unterwellenborn e.V. will be dissolved on 30 June 2021. The association Kulturpalast Unterwellenborn e.V. has agreed to continue operating the building as an industrial museum.

We would like to thank the association for its many years of dedicated and successful work. Our special thanks go to the members of the association who, after the dissolution of the association, continue to dedicate their hearts and commitment to the gas machine centre and support the new tenant in his work.