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Scenes Along
The River Saar

The Saar is a River in northeastern France and western Germany and a tributary of the Moselle River. The Saar was crucial to coal, iron and steel industries as a means to ship raw materials to the area's plants and to ship the finished products out to their destinations. Using canal systems that connect to other rivers, the Ruhr area or even the ports of Rotterdam could be reached. This series of photos taken by Staff Sergeant Jerry Pinkowski of the 347th Ordnance Depot Company comes from an entire roll of 35-mm film. There's some evidence that the photos might have been taken from the vantage point of a rail car moving along the river from east to west, as the photos show sites in Saarbrücken, Burbach and Völklingen, in that order.

Saarbrücken is the capital city of the state of Saarland and lies in the middle of a large metropolitan area with Dillingen to the west and Neunkirchen to the northeast. Formerly, Saarbrücken was the hub of an industrial and transport system of a great coal basin. In 1909 the cities of Saarbrücken, St Johann and Malstatt-Burbach merged into a single city of over 100,000 inhabitants. Following World War I, the Treaty of Versailles dictated the the coal mines would remain solely under French ownership as the city was part of a protectorate of the League of Nations for a 15 year period. As stipulated by the treaty, following the 15 year period, a plebiscite was held which resulted in the Saar Territory returning to Germany. The city was heavily damaged during World War II and was part of the French Zone of Occupation in 1945. The area was economically merged with France but was returned to Germany in 1957.

Burbach lies just west of Saarbrücken on the northern shore of the River Saar. Like other municipalities in the region, it depended heavily on the steel industry. Burbach was known in particular for the production of railway beams and structural steel. In October of 1944 a large portion of the population and workers were evacuated due to the area being a constant target of Allied air raids because of the war-related industries. The city, along with the whole region, suffered economically during the steel crisis of the 1970s following the end of the post-World War II economic boom.

Völklingen is a town in the district of Saarbrücken, in the Saarland of Germany. It lies right on the river about 10 kilometers west of Saarbrücken. The city is known for its rich history of industry and is the site of the Völklinger Hütte (ironworks) which were established in 1873, now a UNESCO World Heritage Site. During the World War II it was estimated that 70,000 forced laborers and prisoners of war were used in the various mines, steelworks and factories of the Saarland. About 14,000 of those, some from the Soviet Union, Poland, France, Yugoslavia, Belgium and Luxembourg labored under harsh conditions at the Völklinger plant. Other points of interest visible in the photos here are the tower of the old town hall and the Catholic Church of St. Eligius.