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Fig. 1. On the 60th anniversary of the signing of the German-Turkish Recruitment Agreement, Federal President Frank-Walter Steinmeier visited Ergun Çağatay’s photography exhibition at the Zollverein Coal Mine Industrial Complex. Photo: Ruhr Museum

Federal Presidenat Steinmeier visits Zollverein

Some three years after the ceremony to mark the end of the German coal mining industry, leading representatives of RAG-Stiftung and RAG Aktiengesellschaft, Essen/Germany, joined Federal President Frank-Walter Steinmeier at a historic mining site.

Together with the head of state and other representatives from the worlds of politics, business and culture, the chair of the RAG-Stiftung board of management Bernd Tönjes, member of the board of management Bärbel Bergerhoff-Wodopia and the chair of the RAG board of management Peter Schrimpf visited the “We’re from here. Turkish-German Life in 1990” exhibition. Photographer Ergun Çağatay’s retrospective on the Zollverein Coal Mine Industrial Complex is funded by the Federal Foreign Office and RAG-Stiftung.

Steinmeier visited the exhibition on the occasion of the 60th anniversary of the signing of the German-Turkish Recruitment Agreement (Figure 1). “We should no longer be talking about how we have people with a migration background here, but instead about how, over the years, we’ve become a country with a migration background,” Steinmeier emphasised after the tour. Without these people, we could not account for some of the prosperity in our country.

While the coal mining industry was active, RAG itself made integration history. A host of different nationalities worked in the mines and factories. Employees originated from, e. g., Italy, Spain, Poland, Greece, Hungary and Turkey.

Integration was part of everyday life in the local mining industry – not least because of the district working group for cultural support for miners at that time (Revierarbeitsgemeinschaft für kulturelle Bergmannsbetreuung – REVAG). The REVAG, founded in 1948 as a specialist unit for cultural support for miners, did pioneering work in that field. It led guest workers out of linguistic and cultural isolation, created trust between immigrants and locals and opened up opportunities for immigrants to participate equally in social, political and civic life. (RAG)