Great(er) Region Saarland-Lorraine-Luxemburg-Rhineland-Palatinate-Wallonie(n)
„Im Reich der Mitte” (“The realm in the center”) is a series of books and other publications edited by Eva Mendgen in cooperation with the independent cultural network Regiofactum. Founded in the context of the cultural capital of Europe “Luxemburg and Greater Region” (2007), Regiofactum meanwhile has become an institution, a label for quality and a symbol for cross-border cooperation.
It is open to, and invites everyone, who wants to make a contribution to the examination and evaluation of the fusion of the indigenous cultural heritages of border territories and of the cultural landscapes in their own right with specific reference to history, culture, work and living conditions.
The network’s activities so far evaluate and portray the Great(er) Region consisting of the Grand Duchy of Luxemburg, the village of Schengen in the middle, the Belgian region of Wallonia with its French community and its German speaking community in the North, the German “Länder” of Rhineland-Palatinate in the East and the Saar in the Southeast, and the French region of Lorraine in the Southwest.
Ill.: Poster-book by regiofactum 2009
Despite shifting frontiers and nationalities between French and German domination, its inhabitants (it was by no means exceptional to have changed nationality several times during one lifetime) were surprisingly successful in creating urban and industrial cultures that remain foundations of today’s modern industry, although this has undergone dramatic restructuring since the not so distant era of heavy industry.
After centuries of heavy industry and the wars of the 19th and 20th centuries, nature and the good things of life are enjoying a renaissance today. There are exquisitely beautiful landscapes, resorts, parks and gardens throughout the region. Old industrial landscapes are once again coming to life, providing a space for nature, leisure and education; reflecting Roman times, when countless contributions to the art of life were thriving in the Great Region.
Ill.: Völklingen Iron Works, UNESCO-World Heritage, Photo: © die arge lola / regiofactum, 2008
Despite shifting frontiers and nationalities between French and German domination, its inhabitants – it was not an exception to have changed nationality several times during one life –time – were surprisingly successful in creating urban and industrial cultures that remain foundations of today’s modern industry, although it has undergone dramatic restructuring since the not so distant era of heavy industry. After centuries of heavy industry and 19th and 20th century wars, nature and the good things of life are enjoying a renaissance today. There are exquisitely beautiful landscapes, resorts, parks and gardens throughout the region. Old industrial landscapes are once again coming to life, providing a space for nature, leisure and education. Countless contributions to the art of life were already thriving in the Great Region in Roman times.
Ill.: Baccarat, Photo: © die arge lola / regiofactum; 2022: The UN International Year of Glass: The Year will celebrate the essential role glass has and will continue to have in society
The conjunction of wine-making and crystal production are by no means accidental in the same region. In the 18th century innumerable manufacturing and industrial companies were established. During the 19th and 20th centuries they conquered the international market. Innovative advertising and marketing, along with high quality products and an effective organization of labour, sophisticated craftsmanship, management and state support (sometimes French, sometimes German, depending on which country was in control) guaranteed their survival up to the present day, despite changing boundaries. The success story of the ceramic, glass and crystal industries is exemplary.
Europe’s heartland possessed raw materials and energy sources that promoted diverse industries from early times – nearly inexhaustible forest reserves, coal and iron mines, sand, clay and salt beds, and countless waterways.
Ill.: Cathedral, Tournai, Photo: © die arge lola / regiofactum, 2012
Artisans and traders have traveled the east-west, north-south axes since Roman times, producing and bartering wares and earning and distributing money. They set high standards for skilled laborers, managers, entrepreneurs, designers and architects. Many authors – from writers to photographers, illustrators and designers – have summarized multiple aspects of the region, which has been named „the laboratory of Europe” and a Gateway to regional France and Germany, to Luxemburg, Belgium, the Netherlands and Switzerland…
Essays, photographs, illustrations and design demonstrate and provide analyses of a way of life and a state of mind.
L’Europe, avant d’être une alliance militaire ou une entité politique, doit être une communauté culturelle.“/„Europe, before being a military alliance or a political entity, must be a cultural community.
Robert Schuman (1886 Luxembourg – 1963 Scy-Chazelles/Metz)
Lawyer and „père de l’Europe“, quotation from „Pour l’Europe,» 1963
(Have a look at the German part of the website, too… more to see…)