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German History in Documents and Images
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Closed Coal Mine (1967)
The coal crisis in the Ruhr Valley, also known as “the death of the coal mines,” started in 1957-58, when German coal became increasingly expensive and the federal government cut mining subsidies. As the price of oil declined on the world market, it replaced coal as a fuel source for heating private homes, and the demand for coal collapsed. These developments led to the demise of the mining industry in North Rhine-Westphalia. This photograph shows an unemployed man in front of the shaft tower of a closed coal mine in Gelsenkirchen. Photo by Kurt Rohwedder.