It is a mild Sunday morning on a unfortunately cloudy spring day in the year 2025.
I greet all participants of the "Vintage Bochum Memorial Walk”And of course the school class from friends“ Guangzhou (New Democratic Republic of China) ”, whose donations made it possible to realize this cultural project in memory of the former Ruhr metropolis.
It has now been 10 years since the Opel parent company GM withdrew its automobile production from Bochum and started it as part of the restructuring of the former automobile group, which began in 2005, into a production facility for "plastic cardboard boxes on wheels".
When General Motors decided to close the European production sites in Bochum and England in 2012 in favor of manufacturing in low-wage countries, there was quite a bit of fierce political resistance. In the end, the US company had with the help of a one-off payment to relocate 8.500 families from the Ruhr area to the " Neue Bundesländer ”can also eliminate the last political adversary, in the then federal government made up of the CDU and a radical splinter group.
2015 the Opel factory gates in Bochum closed forever and the last vehicle was accompanied by thousands of people who were not relocated during a glamorous parade from the gates of the factory to the hall of the century. The musician Herbert Grönemeyer sat at the wheel of the Opel Zafira and his song “Bochum”, stylized as a battle hymn, was heard from “thousands of radios”.
2016 Bochum was still a city that was united in its resistance, but the cohesion was already crumbling and the first sign of disintegration was the quietly shelved plan to turn the former Opel factory into a museum - similar to the German Mining Museum , understand.
2017 the last families had also accepted the 2012 move offers negotiated between the federal government and GM and tried their luck in the new federal states. Towards the end of the resettlement period, the last moving tickets are said to have even been auctioned at eBay auctions at prices that almost completely exceeded the financial subsidy.
2020 the city of Bochum was deprived of its town charter and the incorporation and renaming to “Alt-Arnsberg” began. Most recently, the city superiors tried to obtain a compensation payment from the EU Court of Justice, with the help of a lawsuit against the former US car company, which has meanwhile completely become US government property.
Under pressure from the US government and with reference to the fact that the former management mistakes of the old group management can in no way be compensated for - the EU court did not even admit the complaint.
2023 The former name “General Motors” became the new company name: “Guangzhou Motors”. The former flagship of the US automobile industry was exchanged by the US government in exchange for vouchers for rare earths. The new owners explained that the production facilities in the USA should gradually relieve the existing factories in China due to the exchange rate advantages and the cheaper labor.
But now to our city tour:
1.) The picture shows the former Bochum town hall. After the incorporation and renaming in Alt-Arnsberg had ended, the former official rooms were given over to their decay.
2.) Already 1 years after the Opel plant was closed, the city's funds for the art and culture projects had been canceled and the former Bochum Schauspielhaus closed. Our picture shows the former rooms for artists and administration of the Schauspielhaus.
3.) The third stop on our tour takes us to the former Bochum University. In year 1 after the plant closed, the number of new registrations for the following academic year fell by 50%. 3 years after the closure of the Opel plant, there was no longer any trace of the former student fighting spirit in this place either. The people had given up and the last subjects whose lectures were well attended were Cantonal Chinese and Chinese Commercial Law. In year 5 after the plant closed, the last student left the Bochum University.
4.) Just a few years after the Opel plant was closed, it looked like this former office. In year 1 after the “end for Bochum”, the number of jobseekers in the former Ruhr-Perle jumped to 25%. In year 3 70% of the Bochumers still registered in the city were unemployed and had to be financed from the social security funds.
8 years after the closure, only a few elderly people lived in the direct city area. Even the generous offers of the new federal government to move to the blooming landscapes of the former new federal states could not lure people out of their homeland. In the vernacular, Bochum was soon called “Old Bochum” and later “Friedhof Bochum”. The incorporation and renaming was therefore a sensible step.
In 2025, the complete safeguarding of the former Ruhr metropolis was completed. With the help of Belarusian experts, a “locking ring” was drawn around the decaying city. The knowledge of the experts in evacuating and securing the greater Chernobyl area was used here.
We would now like to ask you to get back on the buses and wish you a safe return.
Note: Of course this is only the worst case - but what really happens when GM closes the Opel factory in Bochum? Nobody can foresee it. Only one thing is clear: it is wrong. The photos are originally. from Detroit and were used by the photographers “Yves Marchand & Romain Meffre” under the title “Ruins of Detroit”And its use here approved.