International School History - European Schools - S6 4 hour option

S6 4hr History Last update - 05 May 2023 Official European School History S6 Syllabus: English, French, German
Optional Theme - 6.4B Culture and Society before 1945 - syllabus

The world that we live in today seems to be driven by oil and computers. Not so long ago however, coal played the most important role. In my research project, I looked at the negative sides of coal mining in regard to the mine workers in Belgium and at what those men, women and children had to endure for the sake of progress.

As the great times of coal mining do not date back that many years, I immediately thought interviewing a former mine worker would be the best way for me to get some answers. But first, I had to get an overview of the topic, which is why I started researching on the internet. As I already knew, there was a significant amount of old coal mines now open to the public in the regions of Charleroi and Liège. I decided to take part in a guided tour through the mine of Blegny, close to Liège. The visit provided me with some useful information and helped me get a first impression of the conditions inside the mines.

Through my internet research, I also found and ordered Francis Groff’s book “Au Coeur du Charbon”, which explains the history of Belgian coal mining in a very structured and comprehensive way. I then decided to contact the author to ask him if he knew any former mineworker I could interview.

He gave me the contact details of Mr Sergio Aliboni, president of the Amicale des Mineurs des Charbonnages de Wallonie and soon we had fixed a date we could meet on. We met on a weekend at the old mine of le Bois du Cazier close to Charleroi. The interview which lasted over an hour was a great success, as Mr Aliboni revealed to me what he thought about his time in the mine and how he felt about it. Given he was not afraid to show his emotions, he could make me feel what he felt to a certain extend.

Having finished my project I now know that mine workers were exploited and did not get the recognition they deserved. Nevertheless, they felt proud they were able to give humanity the coal necessary for progress and that they could provide their children with an education, something most mine workers did not get.



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