Gifhorn 1

Gifhorn International Mill Museum


After 1980, the town of Gifhorn, located about 250 km east of Berlin, became a destination for tens and perhaps even hundreds of thousands of tourists heading to the International Mill Museum every year. On tens of hectares of former brownfield, landfill and marshland, a complex has been created, dominated by several windmills, either transferred from their original sites or faithful replicas based on originals from several countries.The story of this completely private museum lies in how it came into being.

The museum was dreamt up and then realised by Horst Wrobel. His interest in windmills was motivated, as he puts it, by a fateful encounter when, at the age of 30, he saw a working windmill near Braunschweig. He did not give up, he investigated its construction and the entire installation, from the massive wings to the millstones. He drew and measured everything and then created a model of the mill, including its interior and equipment, with his own hands. But he was not alone – models of other windmills were soon added.

When there were 36 of them, he exhibited them for the first time in 1974 in Suhlendorf, between Gifhorn and Hamburg, where he lived at the time. The unexpected interest became the impetus for the creation of a small permanent exhibition, the development of which (as the number of models in Horst Wrobel’s workshop was constantly increasing) was hampered by limited space and the comfort of visitors. The consuls in Gifhorn, 80 km away, came forward and offered land on the outskirts of the town, whose location meant better accessibility and the potential for more visitors.

Wrobel moved a collection of more than forty of his handmade windmill models into the first building on the reclaimed site, and two authentic windmills representing the basic types – a wooden column mill and a Dutch brick mill with a revolving roof – were gradually moved in. The complex has gradually expanded with other buildings, including exhibition halls, a restaurant, a bakery, as well as replicas of mills from different regions of Europe (e.g. Ukraine, Russia and the Mediterranean), and a ship mill with a water wheel and a small water mill from the Alpine region have been added to the water area.

Around seventy models and dozens of other parts and artefacts from mill equipment found a place in the newly built halls, sixteen real mills were built on the open area, nine of them windmills. The space is complemented by restaurants with their own traditional bread bakery and other necessary infrastructure in this landscaped new territory. Author Photos Reporter O.Lepič


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