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Miner who comes in on the so-called " ass leather " (after Georgius Agricola )
Miners, 1952

Bergmann (colloquially miners, squire or buddy) is the professional name of a man who in a mine raw materials degrade.

The patron saint of miners is Saint Barbara . The traditional clothing of the miners is referred to as the mountain habit , although it is not uniform everywhere.

Lexical description

Miners, miners, miners are those employed in the mining industry, who mainly belong to the working class. The training began as a boy as a pit boy (sheath boy , throb boy ). Then he drives in as a trainee before he becomes a miner or tuscher . This group is divided into Ganghauer, Ortshauer and Doppelhauer. Other workers in this area are the miners and carpenters , miners , mine workers and unskilled workers (formerly miners ). As a slinger, he takes over the production down in the shaft, as a faller or puller he empties the conveying vessels above ground. The simple miners are subordinate to the knockouts, under climbers and climbers , the manager of the mine is the climber.

job profile

Mansfeld miner, 1952

In the industrialized countries of Europe and North America, the job of miner has become rarer because the sites for raw materials are largely exploited and the complex deposits that are difficult to develop are currently making exploitation uneconomical. The main mining product of the 19th and 20th centuries, coal , has been replaced by oil and natural gas for energy generation in ships , railways , power stations and heating systems. For cost reasons, salt is seldom extracted directly in salt mines today and is mainly obtained from seawater or brine . In the early days of oil production, oil sands were also mined in Germany until 1963 .


For a long time, the job was largely reserved for men only

Because of the heavy physical labor that this activity requires, the majority of miners, globally and historically, have been men. However, children and in some cases women have always been used for these activities, because on the one hand they were or are cheaper labor and on the other hand, because of their smaller body size, they were better able to enter narrow and small tunnels . Today there are women and children in Latin America, among others, who work underground. There were women miners in Europe until the middle of the 19th century. Women were later banned from working in the mining industry. Article 2 of an International Labor Organization (ILO) agreement of 1935 stated:

"No female, whatever her age, shall be employed on underground work in any mine."

"No woman of any age should work underground in a mine."

West Germany ratified this agreement on November 15, 1954 . The German Democratic Republic only became a member of the United Nations in 1973 after the Basic Treaty had been signed, and thus became a member of the ILO. On April 25, 2008, after a ruling by the European Court of Justice , Germany , like many other states, terminated this agreement because it violated Directive 76/207 / EEC on the implementation of the principle of equal treatment for men and women with regard to access to employment. On March 25, 2009, the ban on women from working underground, which was intended as a safeguard clause, was canceled by amending the Federal Mining Act.

Life expectancy in the 16th century

The heavy mining work caused illnesses among the miners. The first known description of the special diseases of miners is a manuscript, probably recorded in 1533/34, in which Paracelsus summarizes and interprets his observations of the Carinthian mining industry, making it one of the first copies of industrial medicine literature.

In addition to Paracelsus, Georgius Agricola also dealt with these diseases. His investigations indicated damage to limbs (especially the arms) and the airways. He recognized the influence of the damp cold in the mines, which had an effect on the muscular system, which was particularly evident with increasing age through stiff limbs. The rock dust was another problem as it got into the windpipe and lungs and led to silicosis . The average life expectancy in these times was around 35 years, that of miners, however, was significantly lower, and only a few were older than 25 years.

New diseases

Pneumatic hammer

In the 18th century the miners penetrated deeper and deeper. Before it was the cold that bothered the miners, now it was the increasing heat due to the geothermal depth . In addition, there were symptoms such as anemia , paleness, fatigue , abdominal discomfort and diarrhea . In 1885, a mining doctor from Aachen discovered in some of his patients who worked 300 meters below ground level that they suffered from anemia and a contagious worm disease, while miners at a lower depth and their family members were healthy. A series of tests finally revealed that these diseases were caused by a species of worm that was only able to survive at high temperatures and high humidity.

At the beginning of the 20th century, the first compressed air-powered demolition and rotary hammers were introduced. The apparent relief of work, however, led to joint diseases of the upper extremities due to the force of the machines, and many miners suddenly fell ill with consumption ( tuberculosis ). In 1925, the first occupational diseases ordinance was finally issued, which initially listed 13 diseases; These included worm disease among miners and a special form of bronchial carcinoma called Schneeberger disease . In 1929 the pneumonia or silicosis as well as noise-induced hearing loss were recorded.

Semantics of the word "buddy"

In the miner's language , the term buddy is used regionally as a synonym for "miner". Outside of this specific meaning, the word is used in common parlance as a friendly designation in the sense of comrade, “nice guy” or “friend”. It is derived from buddy or partner . This word originally referred to someone with whom you share your bread (late Latin : * companio ). The Germanized form Kumpel has been found since the 19th century and is probably to be understood as a diminutive .


The International Federation of Chemical, Energy, Mining and Factory Workers' Unions estimates that around 12,000 miners are killed at work around the world every year. According to the National Union of Mineworkers , the South African miners' union, over 11,100 miners died in South Africa's mines between 1984 and 2005.

Miners Monument

Adolf Graef, Haarmannsbrunnen, 1909

In Osnabrück ( Lower Saxony ) the steelworks director and senator August Haarmann set a monument to the profession of miner with the Haarmannsbrunnen in 1909 . The fountain is one of the oldest workers' memorials in Germany, created in 1909 by the sculptor and poet Adolf Graef . The bronze sculpture shows a slightly larger than life miner who hits a water vein. Haarmann himself came from a humble background and had financed his studies as a miner.

In Essen , the bronze sculpture Steeplager is located south of the main train station. The sculpture by Max Kratz was unveiled on September 1, 1989 and shows miners in a steep section of seam .

Special days

In the German Democratic Republic there was the day of the miner and the energy worker every year on the first Sunday in July . On this occasion, the best and most deserving miners were honored. This holiday is still celebrated today in some regions (on a private basis).

Miners in art

Fictional literature


Postage stamps


  • Women and mining, testimonies from five centuries. Exhibition by the German Mining Museum Bochum, from August 29 to December 10, 1989, Bochum 1989.
  • Klaus Tenfelde : Social history of the miners on the Ruhr in the 19th century. Bonn 1981.
  • Heinrich Imbusch : Employment relationship and workers' organization in the German mining industry (reprint of the Essen edition: 1908) Berlin / Bonn 1980.
  • Otto Hue : Die Bergarbeiter - Historical representation of the miners' conditions from the oldest to the most recent. (Reprint of the Stuttgart edition: 1910) Berlin / Bonn: 1981, 2 volumes

Web links

Portal: Mining  - Overview of Wikipedia content on mining
Wiktionary: buddy  - explanations of meanings, word origins, synonyms, translations
Wiktionary: Bergmann  - explanations of meanings, word origins, synonyms, translations
Commons : Bergmann  - Collection of images, videos and audio files

Notes / individual evidence

  1. ^ Miner. In: Brockhaus' Kleines Konversations-Lexikon. Zeno, accessed September 7, 2016 .
  2. ^ Catherine Hall: Home Sweet Home. In: Philippe Ariès, Georges Duby (ed.): History of private life. Volume 4, S. Fischer, Frankfurt 1992, ISBN 3-10-033613-5 , p. 85.
  3. C045 - Underground Work (Women) Convention, 1935 (No. 45). ilo.org, accessed September 7, 2016 .
  4. ^ I. History of the International Labor Organization (ILO). DGB - Federal Executive, accessed on September 7, 2016 .
  5. ECJ, judgment of February 1, 2005 - C-203/03
  6. Bundestag printed matter 16/11622 (PDF file; 139 kB)
  7. ^ A b Hans-Jürgen Leersch: Women are allowed to work underground. Retrieved January 19, 2016 .
  8. Status Report: C45 - Underground Work (Women) Convention, 1935. paclii.org, accessed September 7, 2016 .
  9. Müller, Irmgard (ed.), Paracelsus: Von der Bergsucht und other mountain diseases (PDF)
  10. a b c Quarks & Co - Underground. (PDF) on wdr.de.
  11. Helge Beck, Eberhard Kochs, Gunter Hempelmann: Anesthesiology: 429 tables . Georg Thieme Verlag, 2002, ISBN 978-3-13-114881-0 , p. 481 ( books.google.com ).
  12. A look at the history of statutory accident insurance (PDF) on berufnehmerkammer.de
  13. Duden, German Universal Dictionary . 6th, revised and expanded edition. Dudenverl, Mannheim / Leipzig / Vienna / Zurich 2007, ISBN 978-3-411-05506-7 , pp. 376 ( duden.de ).
  14. ^ Etymological dictionary of German. P. 744, keyword Kumpan. 8th edition. Deutscher Taschenbuch Verlag, Munich 2005, ISBN 3-423-32511-9 .
  15. International Federation of Chemical, Energy, Mining and Factory Workers' Unions: As World Watches and Waits for Rescue of Trapped Chilean Miners, What Can Prevent Future Disasters? October 11, 2010 ( industriall-union.org ).
  16. ^ Frans Baleni: A silent crime in the mines. National Union of Mineworkers, March 26, 2012, archived from the original on May 16, 2012 ; accessed on September 12, 2012 .
  17. Day of the Miner and the Energy Worker. - Honoring deserving workers with the honorary title of "Vedienter Bergmann" and "Verdienster Energiearbeiter" of the GDR by the Minister for Coal and Energy. deutsche-digitale-bibliothek.de, accessed on September 7, 2016 .