Leuna is a town in the Saalekreis, Saxony-Anhalt, eastern Germany, south of Merseburg and Halle. It is known for the Leunawerke (English: Leuna works), at 13 km2 one of the biggest chemical industrial complexes in Germany, where a very wide range of chemicals and plastics is produced. In 1960, the town's population was nearly 10,000, but high unemployment rates and poor living conditions, including pollution from nearby industries, has caused significant outward migration. Before the 31 December 2009 incorporation of neighbouring municipalities, its population had sunk to 6670.
The first chemical plant in Leuna was built in 1916 by BASF, and produced ammonia, at first for use in the manufacture of explosives and, after 1919, fertilizers. The site was chosen for its proximity to lignite (brown coal) mines; the chemical plants at the site were based mainly on syngas (hydrogen and carbon monoxide). In 1920, the Leuna plant was commissioned for the commercial hydrogenation of lignite, and production began on April 1, 1927. The site (property of IG Farben after 1926) was rapidly expanded in the 1920s and 1930s, with plants producing methanol, synthetic petrol derived from the hydrogenation of lignite, amines and detergents.
World War II
The IG Farben Leuna works was headed by Heinrich Bütefisch and was Nazi Germany's second largest synthetic oil plant and second biggest chemical operation. Leuna was the first plant to test the Bergius process that synthesized oil products from lignite (brown coal tar in 1944). Leuna covered three square miles of land with 250 buildings, including decoy buildings outside the main plant, and employed 35,000 workers (including 10,000 prisoners and slave laborers). The 14th Flak Division responsible for protecting Leuna had 28,000 troops, 18,000 RAD personnel, 6,000 male and 3,050 female auxiliaries, 900 Hungarian and Italian 'volunteers', 3,600 Russian Hiwis, and 3,000 others, thus making up a total of 62,550 persons. More than 19,000 of Leuna's workers were members of the air raid protection organization which operated over 600 radar-directed guns (the fire-fighting force consisted of 5,000 men and women). A total of 6,552 bomber sorties over 20 Eighth Air Force and 2 RAF attacks dropped 18,328 tons of bombs on Leuna. As the most heavily defended industrial target in Europe, Leuna would become so dark from flak, German smoke pots, and exploding oil tanks that "we had no idea how close our bombs came to the target." (Tom Landry, B-17 co-pilot and later Dallas Cowboy coach). On clear days, only 29% of the bombs aimed at Leuna landed inside the plant gates; on radar raids the number dropped to 5.1%. During the first raid of the Oil Plan, 126 Leuna workers were killed. However, after defenses were increased, only 175 additional workers were killed in 21 subsequent raids. Leuna bombing from May 12, 1944 to April 5, 1945 cost the Eighth Air Force 1,280 airmen. In three separate attacks by the Eighth, 119 planes were lost and not one bomb fell on the Leuna works. The Eighth Air Force dropped 12,953 tons of explosives on Merseburg.
Ray Bowden Merseburg: Blood, Flak & Oil. A study of the USAAF daylight air raids against Leuna with detailed analysis sourced from official records and veterans' accounts. See www.usaaf-noseart.co.uk for fuller details.
After partial destruction in World War II and shipment of several plants to the Soviet Union as war reparations, the Leuna site was gradually rebuilt and further expanded, as the "VEB Leuna-Werke Walter Ulbricht". In the 1950s an oil refinery was built, which processed Russian crude oil. This offered the opportunity to produce a whole range of oil-based chemicals and plastics.
After German reunification in 1990, the Leuna works were divided into several smaller companies that were sold to a.o. Total S.A. (which built a completely new oil refinery in Leuna), BASF, Linde AG, and Belgian DOMO Group. Common utilities for the companies are provided by InfraLeuna. QUINN Chemicals invested in a plant to manufacture methylmethacrylate (MMA) but construction has been put on ice as of January 2009 due to 'heavy cost overruns' and 'deteriorating market conditions'.
- "1920 - Hydrocracking". http://www.cheresources.com/refining5.shtml. Retrieved tbd.
- History at the InfraLeuna website
- Speer, Albert (1970) [1969 - German language: Erinnerungen (Recollections)]. Inside the Third Reich. Translated by Richard and Clara Winston. New York and Toronto: Macmillan. p. 415. ISBN 978-0-684-82949-4. LCCN 70119132.
- D'Olier, Franklin (Chairman); Alexander, Ball, Bowman, Galbraith, Likert, McNamee, Nitze, Russell, Searls, Wright (September 30, 1945). "The Attack on Oil". The United States Strategic Bombing Survey Summary Report (European War). Air University Press. http://www.usaaf.net/surveys/eto. Retrieved 2009-02-10.
- Miller, Donald L. (2006). Masters of the Air: America's Bomber Boys Who Fought the Air War Against Nazi Germany. New York: Simon & Schuster. pp. 314–9. ISBN 978-0-7432-3544-0. http://books.google.com/books?id=5GMoWyUd41cC&pg=PA314.
- Companies on Leuna site
- 'Quinn Mothballs €150 million Plant[dead link]
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