Contemporary witnesses of the German coking industry
At its general meeting in 2003, the Verein Deutscher Kokereifachleute e.V. (VDKF) had resolved that one of the association’s objectives should be a more intensive study of the history of the coking industry. The board of the VDKF then initiated the establishment of a ‘Historians’ Circle’, to be coordinated by Dr Michael Farrenkopf, head of montan.dok.
The work of the historians’ group, safeguarding and analysing the written sources, follows on from the book on the history of the coking industry which was edited by the director of the archive, partially funded by the VDKF, and published in 2003. This focuses in particular on the office-holders of the German coking industry since the mid-20th century, examining them from the perspective of social and economic history. For a study of this kind, important information supplementing the written sources can be gained by questioning the office-holders. Historical research on occupational groups and their economic and social interactions often turns to what is known as oral history – and for good reason. In 2004 the Historians’ Circle therefore launched the project “Contemporary witnesses of the German coking industry” as a focus of its activities.
The fundamental goal was to interview representative figures from the German coking industry, covering a long period of time, using oral history methods. The interviews were initially tape recorded. The long-term plan is to archive and index the tapes in the Bergbau-Archiv; the medium-term result is a collection of unique audio sources, a completely new resource for the coking industry. An audio archive of this kind can be seen, amongst other things, as an important basis for a future museum presentation of the coking industry in Germany.