The heritage: Mining in Saarland - Part VIII

State Chancellery Saarland

Architecture, After the coal is before the coal, Black and green, Memorandum

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.

Winding towers and cable pulley frames have re- mained intact as obvious beacons of the mining industry. Partly still very old entrance tunnel mouths with their interesting architecture are usually only to be found after a deliberate search. The mining settlement buildings funded since the mid-19th century by the Prussian state mines and subse- quently by the Saarbergwerken have shaped the townscapes in the Saarland in many different ways, whether red brick buildings are involved or the development houses of the 1970‘s which appear monotonous today. A film once produced for the „The heritage“ exhibition shows some of these structures in a unique panoramic tour.

The concept of panoramic trips is exemplified here: After a trip from Oberhausen to Dortmund with the Köln-Mindener Eisenbahn in 1994, the trips on the Maas near Venlo and on the Lower Rhine near Düsseldorf in 2002, trips through the villages of the Saarland are planned as the next step in this series.

After the coal is before the coal
Far more people than just the miners themselves are affected by the end of mining. During 16 inter- views recorded for this exhibition, the reactions of men and women from the Saarland towards the end of mining and their assessments of their personal future and that of society are registered. Speakers included former miners and young miners, but also family members and people from the Saarland miner‘s social milieu.
Black and green
Coal: born of wood and recovered from the depths of the earth. Entire forests were felled during the course of the 250 years of Saarland mining history, among other aspects in order to support the galleries and pit props in the mines. On the other hand, many wooded areas were replanted over the past years. Wood from which coal could theoretically once again originate in a few million years. This double paradigm change was recorded in film from the air for the exhibition: the golden autumn countryside of the Saar coal forest was captured during a slow hot air balloon flight with 6 cameras in October 2012.

The Saarkohlenwald flown over as part of these film recordings covers an area of approximately 61 square kilometres from Saarbrücken to Neunkirchen (Saar). The large-scale exploitation of this forested area, first for charcoal purposes, later for mining timber (pit prop) for the coal mines, started with the development of the Saarland to a steelworking and mining area. Since then, the region has become a thick forest once again and constitutes the green axis of the Saarland. This forested area captured here with six cameras in parallel is evidence for a double paradigm shift: while the 19th century saw the replacement of renewable fuel sources through fossilized ones, we are now transitioning back from fossilized fuels to renewables.

The exhibits are subdivided into four groups: - Objects with the Prussian insignia stand for mining festivals which represented one of the culminating points in course of the miners‘ year. - Sixteen tobacco processing busi- nesses existed in the Saarland until 1959. Whether in artful porcelain pipes or as chewing tobacco, the luxury item was part of the miners‘ lives both above and under ground. - The symbol of mining par excellence is the pick and hammer, which ad- orned every conceivable object from candles to plates, in addition to shafts and winding towers. - Artistic photographs that show three different views of objects respec- tively record some of the mining relicts virtually omnipresent in many Saarland communities.
Staatskanzlei des Saarlandes, Öffentlichkeitsarbeit
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