The heritage: Mining in Saarland - Part I

State Chancellery Saarland

Credit to the sun, Under ground, Father State

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.

Credit to the sun
During the carboniferous period, when the region of what is now theSaarland still lay near the equator, the basis for the formation of mighty hard coal seams formed. Under exclusion of air and the pressure of upperlying sediments, the chemical process known as „carbonification“which transforms plants into coal began. If inorganic sediment was washedover the plant material during and after the peat formation phase, leaves, branches and tree trunks - above all those from scale trees - were preservedas imprints in the layers of coal.
Under ground
Mine workings denote all the underground premises directly or indirectly required for extracting a mineral. The creation of a complex gallery network fulfils several functions: on the one hand, the coal must be transported to the surface as conveniently as possible. On the other hand, both the constant influx of pit water must be pumped out and also the dangerous gases - above all the methane released by mining - must be discharged and oxygen sucked in to allow the miners to breathe. The mine workings are created as a function of the geological conditions of the respective site. All the maxims of safety must also be considered at the same time.

Saarberg AG used the "Coal Mine" film to train its apprentices. The complex procedure of building a coal mine and the individual steps for generating coal are explained in the film based on intricate animated diagrams.

The images were produced at the Saar mine in the period between April and September 2012. They show a mine shaft from four different perspectives: View from the conveyor cage upwards, view from the conveyor cage of the wall whizzing past, view of miners in the conveyor cage and view of the hoist operators on the wire rope hoist. The speed at which the conveyor cage plunges into the depths (eight to twelve metres a second) is particularly apparent here.

Father State
The era of State coal mining around the Saar began with two decrees of Prince Wilhelm Heinrich von Nassau-Saarbrücken dating from 1751 and 1754. The systematisation of mining according to mining art still in its beginnings under the prince was continued under French rule (1792–1815). The first scientific mapping of the Saar coalfield in the so-called Duhamel Atlas is considered the culmination of this phase. The actual state-owned era began around the Saar following the transfer of the Saar mines to Prussia and Bavaria. The State mining company provided for its miners with bonus houses and welfare facilities on the one hand, but also however intervened deeply in their private lives with strict conditions on the other hand.
Staatskanzlei des Saarlandes, Öffentlichkeitsarbeit
Credits: All media
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