Museumsplatz Eslohe

Eslohe, Homertstr. 35 (51.26191 | 8.165718)

Anarchy and humility

Outdoor area of the DampfLandLeute Museum with hydroelectric power plant, tracks and machinery.

Here nothing fits together. And it fits really well. Sounds contradictory? That's exactly the point. Contradictions. In the character of that man who shaped this place; in the spirit of each person with their different voices; as a challenge that we sometimes despair of.

But one after the other. I stand on the forecourt of the DampfLandLeute Museum in Eslohe on a sunny April day and think of the dazzling figure who left his mark on it architecturally. Eberhard Koenig was the name of the owner of the chain factory that later became the museum. He ran the company for half a century, lived on the premises for 20 years, and his urn was buried next to the house in 1981.

Blick in der Dämmerung auf den Museumsvorplatz

What do you mean, a grave in the garden? Is that even allowed? Actually, no. Which brings us to the first contradiction. Koenig had influence in Eslohe. Successful businessman, largest employer, benefactor in many ways. From this position, he allowed himself liberties that would have been severely resented by ordinary citizens. This included the fact that he, the rich factory owner, put on a blue overcoat, helped out in production and liked to have a drink with his workers at the end of the day. Or even a few glasses more. Until a serious illness. Then he changed completely and became a teetotaler. Is it a coincidence that he, who had previously entertained ideas of handing over the company to his workers, now distanced himself from them and henceforth acted as a solitary patriarch?

I look around the forecourt. Koenig's ambivalent personality is reflected in the hodgepodge of architectural styles. White-painted arcades are reminiscent of monastic cloisters, but have no other function than to delimit the grounds. The residential building plays with the contrast between 1960s simplicity and - through a round tower - monarchical splendor. The windows of the adjacent workshop would also have looked good in a church. The two-winged gate to the former workshop does not appear industrial, but with its green and white diamond pattern looks like a typical Sauerland barn door. In direct contrast, next to it stands an old, carefully restored factory locomotive with steam propulsion. In the moat above the hall, the reflections of the red factory chimney towering over everything clash with the black and white half-timbered pattern of former workers' houses. Loosely based on a well-known book title: What is this place, and if so, how many?

Museumsvorplatz in Dampf

The morning sun is warming. I sit down on a bench next to the factory barn door, a carpet of bright yellow dandelion blossoms in front of me, and think about contradictions in my own life. Somehow my mind seems to manage effortlessly to make me think about climate protection on a flight to South Africa; to make me eat another fast-food hamburger on the way back from the organic food store; to make me complain about the "shitty arrogance of this colleague..." - and not notice how arrogant I myself am at this moment. In my head, it all goes together just fine. Just like on the square in front of me.

Eberhard Koenig, who could have afforded an outside cabin on luxurious cruise ships for his world travels, sailed instead as a stoker on merchant ships, for example to China. First debauchery, then asceticism. First a rich sympathizer of socialist ideas, then a suspicious factory owner. On the one hand a packer with oil-smeared hands, on the other a beautiful thinker who welcomed the writer Günter Grass for political chats.

When he died, the water wheel next to his house mysteriously stopped. For decades it had been reliably turned by the Salwey flowing by. A final incomprehensible moment. Koenig left the community a foundation with a capital of millions, technology enthusiasts a unique collection of steam engines and, in addition, a soul place full of contradictions and arcs of tension. He invites us to reflect on why we humans, with our inner contradictions, never quite explain ourselves. Koenig left a wise sentence on this subject. On one of the arcades he had a copper plate mounted, its inscription covered with greenish patina: "Do not blame what you cannot understand."

Author: Michael Gleich

He invites us to reflect on why we humans never quite explain ourselves with our inner contradictions.

Michael Gleich

The best way to reach the Museumsplatz Eslohe is from:

Eslohe hiking portal.

Past the Rochuskapelle you walk through the Reinscheid nature reserve. Then you walk on a part of the Sauerland-Höhenflug and from there back to your starting point.

For more information, contact the Schmallenberg Sauerland Tourism: Tel: 02972/974-0, e-mail:

Luftaufnahme über Eslohe
Circular route around Eslohe (E2)
Difficulty: Medium | Distance: 8.9km | Duration: 2:45h | Ascent: 312m | Descent: 312m
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