Large-scale accidents in the collieries of Lower Silesia in the period up to 1945
Mining accidents and disasters are the downside of the development of coal mining and production and as such an integral part of mining history. The article starts by outlining theoretical explanation models for historical research into mining accidents and goes on to analyse the current status of historical research into mining disasters. If mining accidents are to be regarded as a field of research within mining history, it is essential to discard the old interpretation of serious large-scale accidents as being a natural phenomenon and a matter of fate.
In a second step, the author examines the accidents in the Lower Silesian mining industry using statistics covering the period up to 1945. He characterises typical mining accidents in the various pits and their causes over the ages. Where possible, the accident data from the highlighted collieries are compared with those from the Prussian coal mining industry as a whole.
In the third part of the article, two particularly frequent causes of accidents in Lower Silesian mines are examined in detail: firstly, firedamp and coal dust explosions, which, by nature, have the potential to cause a catastrophic accident, and secondly carbon dioxide explosions which are particularly important for the Ruben colliery in Neurode.