“Migration is the key to the development of the Ruhr region. Since its founding in 1856, Hannover colliery has been attracting immigrant-workers from all over Europe. In addition to their usually only provisional luggage, these immigrants brought another important commodity: their cultures.”
(Dietmar Osses, Director LWL-Industriemuseum Zeche Hanover, Coordinator Specially Unknown Bochum)


The pithead tower at Hannover Colliery at the Industry Museum LWL in Bochum is a remarkable landmark and a sign of the golden age of coal mining in the Ruhr area. In the machine house, the steam hauling engine, tells the story of industrialisation in Westphalia until the end of the coal mining in Bochum.

Today not coal but culture is produced at the Hannover Colliery, which is now part of the LWL Industry Museum. The museum is a testimony to the development of the Ruhr area, where profound changes in living and working conditions and migration had always played an important role, and where different cultures have been enriching and influencing life in Westphalia and the Ruhr area to this day.


With temporary exhibitions, campaigns and actions LWL Industrial Museum focuses on the topics of migration, industrial heritage and culture. Its internet platform brings together the most important migration exhibitions in Germany in one place and serves as an archive for smaller presentations.

With Specially Unknown, LWL museum wants to expand its collection and network and, at the same time, contribute to enriching the migration heritage of the Ruhr region.



The team of fieldworkers in Bochum


Refugee communities that take part in Specially Unknown
The LWL-museum interviews refugees who came to Germany from:

  • Turkey – Germany and Turkey have a long history together. Today there are approximately three million people with a Turkish background living in Germany. Most Turkish immigrants came as migrant workers. Some though came as asylum seekers. Even today, a small number of Turkish people are asking for asylum in Germany.
  • Syria – Since the beginning of the new immigration wave in 2015 the community of Syrian refugees has been highly present in the German media. In Bochum, the Syrian community is one of the largest refugee groups and highly visible in the city.
  • Guinea – In many cities of the Ruhr, the most of underaged and unaccompanied refugees are coming from Guinea. Compared to the people coming from Syria or Turkey, the Guinean refugees are less visible in the city of Bochum. They have built a relatively small community that grew somewhat bigger in the last years
  • Congo – Even though the Congolese refugees are a rather less familiar group, their community is relatively active in the cultural scene of Bochum.


Specially Unknown Team Bochum



Sera Massakidi (Congo) is the founder and chairman of the association Bosangani e.V. in Bochum. The association works with African refugees, Primarily from the Democratic Republic of Congo by supporting their educational and cultural integration. He speaks German, French and Lingala.

Agir Mustafa Birhîmeoglu (Turkey) works for IFAK e.V., a transnational migrant organisation in Bochum. His work concentrates on the project Samofa with the aim to promote the social participation of people with a migration background. He speaks German, Turkish and Kurdish (Kurmandschi)

Zoubeida Khodr (Syria) is the founder and chairwoman of the association Humanitäre Solidarität Middle East, HSME e.V. (Humanitarian Solidarity Middle East), which aim is to improve the mutual understanding and coexistence of the different cultures living in Bochum. She speaks German, French, Arab.

Alpha O. Barry (Guinea) is a member of the executive board at the association Guinee-Coop e.V. which focuses on the educational integration of Guinean people living in Bochum and the Ruhr area. He is also the founder of the translation agency Linect – African Languages. He speaks German, French, Fulani

Project Coordinator: Dietmar Osses, Director LWL-Industriemuseum Zeche Hanover
Coordinator fieldworkers: Katarzyna Nogueira, Oral history trainer / Historian


More about LWL-Industrieumuseum: