29.12.17 - 08:26 ❤ 613 ‘The return of the ghost’, @saidokins & @leodluna. Heliographies of Memory series, 2017. Heerlen, Netherlands.
Thanks @heerlenmurals for the invitation and Klaus Tummer for all your knowledge and help.
By the end of the 19th century, Heerlen had become an important industrial center in the Netherlands due to mining. The government ran coal mines as state industries, generating jobs and a population growth without precedents. Coal mining became the basis of the city’s economy. In the early 20th century the industry had a turbulent expansion. During those times, a lot of ancient buildings were destroyed to build new ones, according to the new modern image of Heerlen. However, the glory didn’t last long, by mid-century the coal production stopped being profitable facing the competence of countries like Poland or the United States, as well as the discovery of new energy sources, such as natural gas. Suddenly, Heerlen industry stopped producing, and by the 60’s the coal mines were closed. More than 60000 people lost their jobs. The State relocated some governmental offices (ABP, CBS) to create jobs and ease the crisis, but it didn’t work out entirely. Today they’re still working hard against unemployment and to improve local economy.
Nowadays it’s hard to find traces of the mining industry. Almost every coal mine has been transformed in green hills, through an erasure operation known as ‘Van zwart naar groen’ (from black to green). The old mining area is now called Parkstad Limburg. Material testimonies of the mining past has been rigorously demolished. Just a few monuments still remind us about once dominant industry, perhaps a commercial mall that refers to mining towers shape. It seems that this episode has been deliberately erased, physically and symbolically, despite the great importance it had for local history.
‘every erased trace, in consciousness, can leave a trace of its erasure whose symptom (individual, or social, historical, political and so on) will always be capable of ensuring its return’