100th anniversary of the central office of the Ruhr mining rescue service

On 4 October 1909, the first meeting of the Kommission zur Regelung des Rettungswesens (Commission for the Regulation of the Rescue Services) took place in Essen, in the offices of the Verein für die bergbaulichen Interessen im Oberbergamtsbezirk Dortmund (Association for Mining Interests in the Chief Mining Authority District of Dortmund, referred to more briefly as the Bergbau-Verein, Mining Association).

The meeting was chaired by Bergrat Hermann Lüthgen (1862-1920), the general director of the Bergwerksgesellschaft Dahlbusch, and the participants were the mine directors Bergrat Paul Johow (born in 1864), Dr Hold, Dr Pattberg, Dr Georg Albrecht Meyer and Dr Richard Forstmann. The task of this commission was to develop proposals for a systematic organization of the rescue services on the Ruhr, which had evolved without any coordination up to that point, and to increase the capability and the effectiveness of these services. The result was the foundation of the Hauptstelle für das Grubenrettungswesen (Central Office for the Mine Rescue Service) at the Bergbau-Verein on 30 July 1910.
The key duties of the Hauptstelle included the testing of new and existing equipment for the mine rescue service, the training and supervision of the mine rescue brigades (Grubenwehren), and the establishment of a unified rescue plan for the district. Over the first few years, the Hauptstelle concentrated on supervising the setting up and training of rescue brigades in the mines. Special training courses were also held to initiate equipment managers and brigade leaders into their areas of responsibility. In the interwar period, the inspection of gas protection equipment and the development of suitable testing facilities were intensified. A further focus was on schooling and training; it was necessary, after all, to ensure that the miners’ state of training kept pace with the advances in equipment technology. In 1929 the Hauptstelle also took over the organization of gas protection in coking plants and in facilities for the extraction of by-products. From the 1930s, it also dealt with questions of fire fighting in mines, and fire prevention. During the Second World War, the services of the Hauptstelle were required in rescue operations following numerous mine fires and explosions. In March 1945 the offices of the Hauptstelle in Essen were destroyed in an air raid.
After the end of the Second World War the offices of the Hauptstelle were rebuilt, and its equipment and functions were expected to meet the (initially) increasing demands of the coal-mining industry, the motor of the “economic miracle” of West Germany. The same applied during the scheduled structural reduction of the industry beginning at the end of the 1950s; the mining rescue service underwent numerous adaptations and modernizations in response to these developments.
On 8 December 2010 the Hauptstelle für das Grubenrettungswesen will celebrate its 100th anniversary with a central ceremony in the DBM. The anniversary is intended to be the object of a modern, historical/critical examination of the history of both the institution itself and mine rescue services in general. To this end, the RAG AG is giving financial support for the project, which is to be carried out on the basis of a traineeship in the DBM, starting on 1 August 2009 and running for a year. The main aims of the project are the preparation of an independent publication and a thematically focused permanent exhibition in the Deutsches Bergbau-Museum.


RAG Aktiengesellschaft


2009 - 2010


  • Farrenkopf, M., „Zugepackt – heißt hier das Bergmannswort“ – Die Geschichte der Hauptstelle für das Grubenrettungswesen im Ruhrbergbau,unter Mitarbeit von Susanne Rothmund, Veröffentlichungen aus dem Deutschen Bergbau-Museum Bochum. Bochum 2010.