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The Henrichshütte in the 1930s
Henrichshütte site, steelworks area

The Henrichshütte is a former iron and steel works in Hattingen (Germany) and is now operated as a museum . The Henrichsteich is close by .

The Henrichshütte was founded in 1854. It got its name at the suggestion of the first hut director Carl Roth after Count Henrich zu Stolberg-Wernigerode (1772-1854). It was one of the most traditional steelworks in the Ruhr area , known for its stainless steel .

Despite changing ownership (1904–1930 Henschel & Sohn , 1930–1963 Ruhrstahl , 1963–1974 Rheinstahl , from 1974 Thyssen AG ), the name Henrichshütte always remained . From 1987 the Henrichshütte was shut down (1987 blast furnace 2 and 3 and the rolling mill, 1993 steel works, 2003 forge).


Foundation and first years

The Henrichshütte was licensed on October 13th, 1854 by the royal mining authority in Dortmund . The license was applied for by the smelter Carl Roth, who acted on behalf of his employer, Count Henrich zu Stollberg-Wernigerode. At this point in time, the count already owned several iron and steel works in the Harz Mountains, but their operation was no longer profitable because the raw materials were running out. In addition, there was the introduction of the coke-fired blast furnace on the continent - a technology that was developed in England and was far superior to the charcoal -fired blast furnaces that had been customary until then . For this reason, the count's charcoal blast furnaces were no longer competitive. Since hard coal had become an essential raw material, the Ruhr area was able to further expand its position as the preferred region for founding smelters, as both iron ore and high-quality fatty coal for coke production were available there. In 1852, Carl Roth traveled to the Ruhr on behalf of the Count to look for a suitable location to found a new steelworks. He found this in the area of ​​the communities Welper and Winz , which are now districts of Hattingen. There he acquired the manor "Haus Bruch", whose lands were large enough for the planned facility. In addition, Carl Roth bought Eisensteinfelder in the area of ​​Witten and Steele, the Kuxen majority in the Carl Friedrich Erbstollen colliery and shares in several other collieries. This ensured the supply of raw materials to the hut. On March 20, 1854, the foundation stone for the blast furnace foundations was laid and the hut was given the name "Henrichshütte", which Karl Roth proposed as a reminder of Count Henrich, who had already died in February 1854. Another reason spoke in favor of this name, as one could make it so clear that Henrichshütte was not a "Aktienwerk", as Carl Roth called it, but belonged solely to the ruling Count of Stollberg-Wernigerode. In 1855 the first blast furnace was blown, in 1856 a second. With a daily output of 25 t of pig iron, this first blast furnace was considered the most powerful in the Ruhr area at that time. However, since the originally planned investments had already been significantly exceeded during the first construction phases, the profitability of the new system left something to be desired. In 1857 the Henrichshütte was sold to a Berlin consortium of banks, the “ Berliner Disconto-Gesellschaft ”, under the direction of David Hansemann.

Pig iron production

Molten steel pan, photographed during a state visit, 1961
Worker, 1961

Under the leadership of Disconto-Gesellschaft, two more blast furnaces were blown in 1859 and 1860. The “Dortmunder Union”, to which the Henrichshütte belonged after being sold again in 1874, had a new blast furnace blown in 1885, for which two of the older ones had been demolished, but which enabled a further increase in output. However, this furnace was completely destroyed in 1900 by an explosion in which several workers were killed. The reason for this accident can no longer be determined today. In 1904 the Henrichshütte changed hands again and from then on belonged to the locomotive building empire of the Kassel company Henschel & Sohn. The new owner started to modernize the production facilities of the hut from the ground up. This also included the construction of two new blast furnaces, which were blown on in 1906 and 1913 and were among the most modern systems of their kind. The output of the units was 250–350 tons of pig iron per day.

In 1939 - the smelter had belonged to the Ruhrstahlgruppe since 1930 - another blast furnace was built because the pig iron requirements for armaments production at the Henrichshütte could no longer be covered with the existing furnaces. In 1940 this furnace was ready for operation and with a daily output of 800 tons of pig iron, it was twice as efficient as the other two furnaces. It is also this blast furnace that has been preserved to this day as "Blast Furnace 3" of the Henrichshütte in the local industrial museum.

After the war, which seriously affected the plant, and after the dismantling period, Ruhrstahl AG was re-established in November 1951, although it only included Hattingen, Annen and Brackwede. In September 1956 Rheinstahl acquired the majority of the shares.

In 1963 the former Ruhrstahlbetriebe (excluding Edelwitten and Gelsenguss) was merged with the Friedrich-Wilhelms-Hütte in Mülheim and Meiderich and with the Schalker Verein in Gelsenkirchen to form "Rheinstahl Hüttenwerke AG". With the construction of another blast furnace, which was given the number 2, the performance of the blast furnace system was increased again. Overall, the performance of both furnaces could be increased through several modernizations up to 2400 t per day and furnace.

On October 1, 1974, the Henrichshütte was sold to the Thyssen Group and since then has been operating as "Thyssen Henrichshütte AG", a 100% subsidiary of August-Thyssen-Hütte (ATH), which it gradually shut down from 1984 onwards. After the younger of the two blast furnaces was blown out in 1987 and the older one on December 18, there was no more pig iron production in Hattingen after more than 130 years. Until the final shutdown, the Henrichshütte received its pig iron from the Thyssen steelworks in Duisburg.

Survival strategies

During its existence, the Henrichshütte had to struggle with two fundamental problems: On the one hand, there was the limited space available to it between the Ruhr and the Hattinger Ruhr slope; major expansions of the plant were not possible. Only in the 1950s was the relocation of the Ruhr river bed added to the factory premises. On the other hand, there was the poor transport connections, especially the lack of navigable water , which is why the raw materials could only reach Hattingen by rail . Henrichshütte countered this by specializing in the production of high-quality individual items, which kept the company profitable for many decades. Initially steam boilers , later wheel sets (also for the ICE ), components for Arian rockets and castor containers were part of the product range. The reactor pressure vessel of the first German nuclear power plant also came from the halls of the Henrichshütte. Because of the high quality that could be achieved there, the American artist Richard Serra chose the Henrichshütte as the production site for his numerous steel sculptures.


People made of iron

On February 19, 1987 - the "Black Thursday" in the history of the Ruhr city of Hattingen - the Executive Board of Thyssen Stahl AG announced the "end" for Henrichshütte: the two blast furnaces, the 4.2-meter heavy plate mill, the electrical Steel mill and the continuous caster. 2,904 jobs were to be cut and the training workshop with 400 training positions closed. For the first time, workers in the German steel industry were threatened with mass layoffs.

On March 18, 1987, 30,000 people flocked to Rathausplatz. A center of resistance developed that was supported by a new social movement: from steel workers, works council members, shop stewards and IG Metall as well as from associated and independently acting initiatives such as the youth initiative, the senior citizens initiative, the women’s initiative and the citizens' committee "Hattingen must live" , which was composed of over a hundred clubs and organizations. Over a period of twelve months they all organized demonstrations, rallies, vigils, car corsages to the state capital Düsseldorf and the federal capital Bonn, a human chain with 5,000 participants around the hut, a five-day hunger strike by the hut women and an eleven-day “village of the Resistance ".

Despite this “outcry”, at the end of June 1987 the shareholders on the Thyssen Stahl AG Supervisory Board decided with the vote of the “neutral” Chairman and Federal President a. D., Walter Scheel , against the workers' votes to close down the Henrichshütte. The ironworkers forced five steel talks in the Federal Chancellery and contributed to the fact that the NRW state government launched the “Future coal and steel region” program. They continued the fight for replacement jobs.

In the fifth steel discussion on October 2, 1987, the federal government, the trade union and the steel industry agreed on 600 million marks in public aid (federal, state and EC funds) to cut 35,000 jobs in the steel industry. Until the end of 1989, the corporations undertook not to issue any “redundancies for operational reasons”. With this the mass layoffs in Hattingen were finally off the table. The jobs were cut through early retirement through social plans, internal transfers and relocations to Duisburg, Krefeld and Witten and "voluntary" departure with severance payments.

The last tapping of the blast furnace took place on December 18, 1987. Blast furnace II was sold to China and dismantled in 1990 by a Chinese construction team.

At the beginning of 1988, Thyssen AG brought the “further processing” area of ​​Henrichshütte into a joint operation with Krupp AG and Klöckner AG. The United Schmiedewerke GmbH (VSG) united the machining workshops, the Kümpelbau, the steel foundry and the LD steelworks under one roof in Hattingen. After the smelter was shut down, VSG used parts of the steelworks with an LD converter and two electric arc furnaces until 1993. In 2004 the VSG filed for bankruptcy. Europe's largest forging press, the 8,500 ton press, was finally shut down. The remuneration of the Henrichshütte is still operated today by the Deutsche Edelstahlwerke Witten-Krefeld (DEW) on the former site.

The new construction of the now completely oversized "Kosterbrücke" over the Ruhr in 1979/1980 to improve the traffic connection could not prevent the closure. Hattingen was faced with the great task of coping with the structural change from the steel town to an “industrial and commercial location” with a residential town, historic old town, shopping center, leisure and recreational focus and the new pillar of the environment. The large loss of jobs in the manufacturing sector (around 4,500 from 1987 to 1997) could not be offset by growth in trade and services. Hattingen became a commuter town. The Landesentwicklungsgesellschaft NRW (LEG), acting as trustee of the State of North Rhine-Westphalia, bought the approximately 140 hectares of Henrichshütte's industrial area from Thyssen and prepared it for new settlements based on the “work in the park” model, embedded in a good leisure infrastructure. The increased funding quota for investments enforced by the steel workers led to the first new settlements in the "Henrichshütte Commercial and Landscape Park".

With the support of the state program "Future Mining Regions" (ZIM), new residential and commercial areas were acquired, prepared and developed in Holthausen, the inter-company training and further education center Bildungswerk Hattingen (BWH), the establishment of a technical training center for women and the Construction of a sewage tunnel in Ludwigstal. The structural change in Hattingen was supported in the next few years by funds amounting to around 250 million DM from the ZIM special program and by EC-financed funding programs

In addition to retraining programs, there were also social programs: courses for senior citizens in Dortmund and Bochum, a working group for the renovation of a sailing ship, a magazine (WIR “We in retirement”) and a costume group. Seven former works council members of the Henrichshütte founded the association "Ideenschmiede Henrichshütte", which bought the rooms left by the VSG, set up a metal workshop and a joinery, where former steel workers still work today.

The sculptor Zbigniew Frączkiewicz exhibited his sculptures People made of iron on the site in 1996 . Three of the iron men are now standing in front of the city wall of Hattingen.

Partial demolition

The gasometer was blown up in 1994

The gasometer was blown up in 1994.

In the outdoor facilities, the heavy metal-contaminated molding sands were protected against rainwater with foils and greened.

The 60 m high building of the steelworks, a landmark of the city of Hattingen, was blown up with 40 kg of explosives on January 23, 2005 at 10:06 am in front of the eyes of 2,500 spectators, including many former employees. For cost reasons it was not possible to keep the steelworks as an industrial monument.

In 2007 a chimney was blown up on the hut premises.

During expansion work on the industrial park on the former site of the Henrichshütte between the blower hall and the Satcom tower, a five-hundredweight bomb from the Second World War detonated on September 19, 2008 during excavation work. Seventeen injuries (most of them with bang trauma) and damage to the surrounding buildings, work equipment and vehicles were the result.

Commerce, recreation and industrial culture

Today the 70,000 m² Henrichshütte site is one of the eight locations of the LWL industrial museum and part of the route of industrial culture, along with a few new commercial settlements and new park areas .

The former Bessemerstahlwerk is used for events. The SatkomTower was rebuilt.

As part of the 2010 Capital of Culture year , the preserved blast furnace complex of the Henrichshütte was illuminated in different colors.

Since 2019, the ProSieben show Renn zum Million ... if you can! turned.


  • Otto König , Robert Laube: The end of the steel age: the closure of the Henrichshütte Hattingen . Klartext Verlag, ISBN 3-88474-609-X .
  • Waltraud Bierwirth, Otto König (ed.): Melting points, steel: Crisis and resistance in the area . Klartext, Essen 1988, ISBN 3-88474-331-7 .
  • When there is a fire on the Ruhr ... In: Works council, IG Metall trust body Henrichshütte, IG Metall Hattingen (ed.): Hattinger local history writings . No. 32 . WI, Düsseldorf June 1988.
  • Manfred Rasch: Grenades, artillery and prisoners: For armaments production at the Henrichshütte in Hattingen during the First and Second World Wars . Essen 2003, ISBN 3-89861-234-1 .
  • Robert Laube (ed.): The Henrichshütte Hattingen: A green story . Dortmund 1992, ISBN 3-921980-48-8 .
  • Ina Minner, Ralf Molkenthin: “A monument learns to speak, life-history interviews on blast furnace 3”, in: industrial culture, monument preservation, landscape, social, environmental and technological history, 2/2000, pp. 32–33, ISSN  0949 -3751 .
  • Anja Kuhn, Ralf Molkenthin: A crack that can be heard all over the plant…, collapse of blast furnace 1 at Henrichshütte Hattingen on March 24, 1900 , in: Stahl und Eisen, magazine for the production and processing of iron and steel, 11/2000, p 138, ISSN  0340-4803 .
  • Ina Minner, Ralf Molkenthin: New technology - old work, memories of the blast furnace operation at Henrichshütte Hattingen in the 50s , in: industrial culture, monument preservation, landscape, social, environmental and technological history, 4/2001, p. 34– 35, ISSN  0949-3751 .
  • Ralf Molkenthin: The blast furnaces of Henrichshütte, work and technology in a Westphalian blast furnace plant 1854–1987 , in: Märkisches Jahrbuch für Geschichte, 104th Volume, 2004, pp. 136–161, ISSN  0937-1621 .
  • Christian Kleinschmidt: An impossible monster: large gas engines, power and energy for the Henrichshütte . Dortmund 1993, ISBN 3-921980-54-2 .
  • Imme Wittkamp: The fate of the Henrichshütte steelworks in Hattingen , in: Preservation of monuments in Westphalia-Lippe 1.04 (PDF; 1.9 MB), 1/2004, pp. 16–22.
  • Wilfried Maehler and Michael Ide: Air protection in Bochum with an overview of the air protection of the Henrichshütte, Bochum 2004


  • 300t made to measure. Henrichshütte manufactures a nuclear reactor pressure vessel. A film by Rheinstahl-Hüttenwerke from 1965 - newly edited by the LWL Media Center for Westphalia, German and English, approx. 30 min. DVD with booklet, 2009.

Web links

Commons : Henrichshütte  - collection of images, videos and audio files

Individual evidence

  1. "Development and current status", lecture by Dr. Därmann on the occasion of the Supervisory Board meeting on May 14, 1975
  2. ^ The infarction of the steel heart , in: Süddeutsche Zeitung, February 19, 1987.
  3. The whole city is fighting for the Henrichshütte , in: Neue Ruhr Zeitung, February 21, 1987.
  4. When there is a fire on the Ruhr - Hattingen is fighting for survival . In: IG Metall administration office Gevelsberg-Hattingen 1945-2010 (Hrsg.): "Band of Solidarity", resistance, alternative concepts . VSA, Hamburg 2012, p. 180-248 .
  5. ^ "Off" for both blast furnaces and rolling mill , in: Westfälische Rundschau, June 24, 1987.
  6. ^ Gathering strength for the final round , in: Süddeutsche Zeitung, October 7, 1987.
  7. Lutz Heuken: The last racking . In: Melting points, steel: Crisis and resistance in the area . Klartext, Essen 1988, ISBN 3-88474-331-7 , p. 125-130 .
  8. Dallas in the Ruhr area . In: VSG GmbH (Ed.): Volume of Solidarity, Resistance, Alternative Concepts, IG Metall administration office Gevelsberg-Hattingen 1945–2010 . VSA, Hamburg 2012, p. 303-349 .
  9. netzeitung.de World War II bomb explodes in the Ruhr area ( Memento from September 20, 2008 in the Internet Archive )
  10. Information on the official homepage of the Licht RUHR 2010 project  ( page no longer available , search in web archivesInfo: The link was automatically marked as defective. Please check the link according to the instructions and then remove this notice.@1@ 2Template: Toter Link / www.licht-ruhr2010.de  

Coordinates: 51 ° 24 ′ 27 ″  N , 7 ° 11 ′ 18 ″  E