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(ro͝or), region, c.1,300 sq mi (3,370 sq km), North Rhine–Westphalia, W Germany; a principal manufacturing center of Germany. The Ruhr lies along, and north of, the Ruhr River (145 mi/233 km long), which rises in the hills of central Germany and flows generally west to the Rhine River at Duisburg. The Ruhr's principal cities are, in the west, Duisburg, Mülheim, Essen, Oberhausen, Bottrop, Gladbeck, and Gelsenkirchen; and in the east, Bochum, Dortmund, and the smaller cities of Wattenscheid, Recklinghausen, Herne, and Witten.

Extensive coal deposits, especially the high quality coking coal required in steel manufacturing and critical to the Ruhr's rise as an industrial center, underlie the region in basins that are near the surface along the Ruhr River (the location of the oldest mines and steel plants), and at greater depths to the north along the Lippe River (where most of the modern mines are found). Many coal deposits in this region have been exhausted. Raw materials are imported into the region by way of the Rhine, the Ruhr (navigable below Witten), the Rhine-Herne Canal, the Dortmund-Ems Canal, and a dense network of rail and road connections. The Ruhr Planning Authority (est. 1921) protects designated farmlands and green areas from encroachment by the cities and enforces pollution legislation.

The development of the Ruhr district began in the 19th cent. when the KruppKrupp
, family of German armament manufacturers. The family settled in Essen in the 16th cent. The core of the great Krupp industrial empire was started by Friedrich Krupp, 1787–1826, who built a small steel plant c.1810.
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 and Thyssen concerns (now merged) built large integrated coal and steel empires. The Ruhr was occupied (1923) by French and Belgian forces during the dispute over reparationsreparations,
payments or other compensation offered as an indemnity for loss or damage. Although the term is used to cover payments made to Holocaust survivors and to Japanese Americans interned during World War II in so-called relocation camps (and used as well to describe
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. The troops evacuated (1925), but the occupation greatly embittered German nationalist feeling. Some of the chief Ruhr industrialists helped Hitler to power in 1933. The Ruhr, which was vital in the production of armaments for the German military, was a major bombing target for Allied forces during World War II. About three fourths of the region was destroyed; nearly a third of the area's coal mines were forced to close down.

The International Authority for the Ruhr was set up in 1949 with responsibility for development of the region. Control passed to the European Coal and Steel Community in 1952 and to West Germany in 1954. In the creation of the new state of North Rhine–Westphalia in 1946, the provincial border between Westphalia and the Rhineland was removed, improving the integration of operations in the region. Coal production suffered from competition from other fuels, and in the 1980s the coal and steel industries that had made the region an industrial center declined, leading to serious unemployment. Although the region remains a important manufacturing center, more than three fifths of the working population has been employed in the service sector since the 1990s.

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The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.



the major industrial region of the Federal Republic of Germany (FRG); located in the Land (state) of North Rhine-Westphalia on the right bank of the Rhine River. The approximate boundaries are tributaries of the Rhine—the Ruhr River in the south and the Lippe River in the north; from west to east, the region stretches from Duisburg to Dortmund, forming a continuous urban complex. Area, 3,300 sq km. Population, 5.6 million. The mean population density is more than 1,700 persons per sq km, and the maximum, more than 5,000.

The Ruhr is highly industrialized and has a well-developed transportation network. It is the FRG’s main coal and metallurgical region, producing 85 percent of the country’s coal, including all the coking coal, and 70 percent of the country’s steel (more than 30 million tons). The coal and metallurgical industries employ more than one-half of the Ruhr’s industrial workers. They have become the foundation of a heavy industry complex that includes electric-power-engineering, gas, by-product coke chemicals, and heavy-machine-building. The largest FRG concerns, such as Thyssen and Krupp, developed in the Ruhr. After World War II, a large oil-refining industry (oil pipelines from Rotterdam and Wilhelmshaven) was developed, as well as an automotive industry (Bochum) and electrical-engineering. Because of the predominance of the old branches of industry and the crisis in coal, including the closing of mines and the mass dismissal of miners, the Ruhr has declined economically. Its share in the country’s industrial production declined from 10 percent in 1960 to 8 percent in 1972. Essen and Dortmund are the major cities in the Ruhr; Duisburg is the largest river port and the primary metallurgical center of the FRG; Düsseldorf, Wuppertal, Bochum, and Gelsenkirchen are other important cities.


Ekonomika Rura. Moscow, 1948. (Translated from French.)


Historical information. The development of the Ruhr (a part of Prussia after 1815) was linked primarily with the rich deposits of hard, chiefly coking, coal; the first mention of coal mining in the Ruhr goes back to the 14th century. In the mid-19th century, a large coking, metallurgical, and chemical industry—based on deposits from the Ruhr Coal Basin—emerged in the Ruhr. The Krupp firm became one of the largest companies in the area. A major impetus for the development of the Ruhr was the German militarists’ seizure of Alsace and eastern Lorraine with their rich iron-ore deposits as a result of the Franco-Prussian war of 1870–71.

The Ruhr was the principal arsenal of German imperialism before and during World War I. At the same time, it was the most important center of the German Workers’ movement, especially the strike movement (for example, the strikes of 1872, 1889, 1905, and 1912). The workers of the Ruhr played a major role in the revolutionary movement in Germany in 1919–20. In March 1920 there was an uprising in the Ruhr in response to the counterrevolutionary Kapp putsch. In May 1923 there was a general strike aimed against the Franco-Belgian occupation of the Ruhr in January 1923 and against the German monopolies. The evacuation of the occupation troops was begun in August 1924 and ended in August 1925 (seeRUHR CRISIS OF 1922–23). The working class of the Ruhr in subsequent years led the struggle against capitalist exploitation, as for example, in the strike of metallurgical workers in 1928 and the miners’ strike in 1931.

During World War II, the Ruhr accounted for one-quarter of Germany’s military production, including a significant portion of its artillery pieces, tanks, explosives, and synthetic fuel; it also supplied raw materials and semifinished goods to military industry all over Germany. Shortly before the end of the war, the Ruhr was occupied by British and American troops; it was subsequently included in the British occupation zone.

Postwar measures to break up the monopolies in the Ruhr were soon rescinded. After 1950, Krupp, Thyssen, Klöckner, Haniel, and other companies fully regained their former scope and power. The industry of the Ruhr plays a leading role in the European Coal and Steel Community and in the European Economic Community. The working class of the Ruhr has energetically opposed capitalist exploitation and has actively sought to improve its working and living conditions.



a river in the Federal Republic of Germany, a right tributary of the Rhine. The Ruhr is 235 km long and drains an area of about 4,500 sq km. Originating in the spurs of the Sauerland highlands, it flows primarily through mountains; the lower course crosses a plain. High water occurs in the winter, and low water in the summer; there are flash floods in the autumn. The mean flow rate near the mouth is approximately 70 cu m per sec. The Ruhr has numerous reservoirs. The river’s waters are widely used by the metallurgical enterprises of the Ruhr industrial region. The Ruhr is navigable to the city of Witten and is joined with the Ems River by a canal. The cities of Witten, Essen, and Mülheim are on the Ruhr, and the large river port of Duisburg is at the mouth.

The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.


the chief coalmining and industrial region of Germany: in North Rhine-Westphalia around the valley of the River Ruhr (a tributary of the Rhine 235 km (146 miles) long)
Collins Discovery Encyclopedia, 1st edition © HarperCollins Publishers 2005
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