A tour like no other

15 June – The day started quite well. On our way to Poland, we went to Hainsberg, near Dresden. In Hainsberg is the paper mill established by my great-great-great-grandfather, Gerhard Friedrich Thode, in 1838, which still exists today, long after it left family hands. In March, I’d requested a tour of the site. I’d received no reply, so I walked in unannounced, showed them a copy of the letter I’d sent, and politely asked for a tour. They were a bit stunned. We got a tour, and it must’ve taken an hour and a half.

We saw a modern factory which today produces 120 tonnes of recycled paper per day. It was fascinating to look at. We were taken all over, including into areas from the time of my ancestors, original halls, walls, and windows. Even a dark underground waterway from the time of the Thodes. Outside, there is an original pond, but the guide said it will have been removed by the time of the 175th anniversary celebrations next year. The guide also pointed out very old railway tracks where paper and other raw product had been delivered in the earliest times. And a wooden sign reading “Thodesche Papierfabrik”, from the middle of the 19th century, still hangs in Reception. The company is today known as the Papierfabrik Hainsberg. They are of course churning out infinitely more recycled paper than in my family’s time, with customers all over Europe. I was very happy with the opportunity to have had a tour like this, and to see that something my ancestors started is still going, and doing a lot of good.

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