Ruhr Museum

Destruction and Reconstruction

Each of the World Wars cemented the Ruhr area as a coal and steel region in Germany in two different ways. On both occasions it functioned as an armaments centre and then as a focus of reconstruction.

During the First World War the Ruhr area was badly afflicted by starvation; and during the Second World War it suffered heavily from air raids. During the interwar period the Ruhr area witnessed revolutionary uprisings, above all during the so-called »Ruhr battle« in 1920. The Ruhr area was also deeply involved in Nazi crimes. The mining industry underwent massive rationalisation and mechanisation measures. The structure of the coal and steel industries was consolidated even further when coal began to be used to produce electricity and gas. Another important new element in the Ruhr economy was the chemical industry which grew up along the banks of the river Lippe.

The long-term establishment of an industrial agglomeration, however, resulted in an intense process of urbanisation. This, in turn, created the prerequisites for the post-war reconstruction of the Ruhr area as a metropolitan area.