The heritage: Mining in Saarland - Part III

State Chancellery Saarland

Milestones, Two worlds, Come, go, stay

Coal production in Saarland came to an end in 2012 after over 250 years. This was a defining moment for Saarland because it was almost impossible to imagine the federal state without the mining industry. The ups and downs of the entire federal state were closely linked to coal. Mining played a major role in the lives of almost all families in Saarland, with either a relative or an ancestor having worked in the industry. The fact that coal mining gave our state its own identity is largely thanks to the people who worked in it: the Saarland miners. They laid the foundations for economic development in Saarland and provided momentum for the 'economic miracle' in Germany with their hard work, influencing our state, its values and its cohesion like no other occupational group. The camaraderie and solidarity among miners was the model for the sense of community among people in Saarland. We are now faced with the task of keeping the memories of the mining industry alive. It is important to preserve the knowledge of the mining roots of our state and to pass this knowledge on, especially to young people. The virtual state exhibition DAS ERBE (the heritage) plays a central role in this culture of remembrance. We want this to highlight the special importance of the period characterised by the mining industry for the current and future Saarland society. The DAS ERBE exhibition focuses on miners, their lives, families and culture, their influence on togetherness in Saarland, and on what remains after the end of coal mining, rather than on machinery and mining towers. The exhibition highlights just how rich and varied the heritage of miners is for our state.
I hope that visitors to the "DAS ERBE" exhibition at the Open Gallery of the Google Cultural Institute in the Saarland State Chancellery learn something new about mining in Saarland and are able to gain a better understanding of work underground.

Discoveries were made around the Saar which have advanced development of mining engineering all over Europe. The „coal face saturation process“ helped to reduce the hazards of firedamp and coal dust explosions. The „Draeger 1904“ respirator once again represented a milestone in increasing mine safety. It was developed at the Camphausen pit for the specific requirements of the Saar miners and is considered the prototype of the Draeger respirators which are used in mining to this day.
Two worlds
As otherwise only in the military, the world under ground was practically exclusively shaped by men. Although there were already female mine owners and even female coal miners in Early Modern mining around the Saar, these women remained rather an exception. Following the prohibition of women‘s work under ground (in Prussia in 1828), female activity in the production process of mines remained restricted to surface installations (such as for example on slag heaps, on sorting conveyors or in coal washing). Women were however also only employed here to any significant As the „conventional“ counterpart to the „male“ mine work, mining women were increasingly brought up for their role as housewives and mothers. Women were often also required to cater for part-time agriculture though and frequently worked in own private homes near the pits as landladies of the privately rented accommodation too.
Come, go, stay
Since the 1840‘s, many attempts had been made to also acquire miners from more distant regions. In order to bind the foreign miners to their new workplace, the Prussian Mining Administration developed a comprehensive settlement scheme at the initiative of the Saarbrücken mining office director, Leopold Sello (1785 –1874) which included both dormitories and bonus houses and building of miners‘ colonies. Favourable mortgages and bonuses, which were however dependent on the good conduct of the house builders, offered miners the opportunity of building their own home with a small garden. Some leased a room in their own home to miners seeking lodging. With extension of the transport network since the 1870‘s, the number of weekly commuters decreased and the area from which labour could be recruited expanded at the same time.
Staatskanzlei des Saarlandes, Öffentlichkeitsarbeit
Credits: All media
The story featured may in some cases have been created by an independent third party and may not always represent the views of the institutions, listed below, who have supplied the content.