Glück auf ! The Ruhr. Coal mining after 1945

In 2009 montan.dok, or rather the relevant research department, put together the first temporary special exhibition for the annexe opened at the end of the year. The topic was the history of coal mining in the Federal Republic of Germany, with a particular focus on the Ruhr mining industry from 1945 to the present.

One core theme of the exhibition, which was basically presented in chronological order, was the radical advances in German mine engineering, which can only be understood in relation to the structural crisis and the decades of pressure to rationalize. This focus was in keeping with the DBM’s primary role as a museum of technology, a role distinguishing it from the many museums of the Ruhr which also deal with this area, but whose emphasis is more on social history or industrial archaeology. For the main narrative thread of the exhibition, the history of technology, the DBM was able to make use of its extensive collections in montan.dok, giving it a unique advantage over other museums.
While the aim was to show the particular achievements of the West German coal-mining industry, especially in the area of the mining supply industry, the exhibition was at pains to avoid a one-sided glorification of technology. In keeping with a modern understanding of technological history, the aim was to show how both general economic conditions and genuinely political decisions affected the development of the West German coal-mining industry. Particular areas to be considered here were European dimensions such as the European Coal and Steel Community (ECSC), the law regarding Mitbestimmung (co-determination) in the mining industry, Erhard’s coal policies, the establishment of Ruhrkohle AG as an Einheitsgesellschaft (united company), and finally the expiry of the ECSC treaty at the beginning of the 21st century.
The idea was that representative objects from the collections of the DBM would set the scene and constitute the main body of the exhibits. Numerous original sources from the mining archive were available, particularly to explain the economic and political conditions. These were supplemented with archival materials from a number of other relevant institutions. Given that the period in question is fundamentally regarded as an audiovisual era, it was both necessary and possible to make use of a wide range of sources in the area of industrial films and of public service radio and television stations (and later private ones).


RAG Aktiengesellschaft



2009 - 2010


  • Farrenkopf, M. u.a. (Hrsg.), 2009. Glück auf! Ruhrgebiet. Der Steinkohlenbergbau nach 1945. Bochum, 2019.