Archived project

Outport and Hinterland.Rotterdam Business and the Ruhr, 1870-2000

Goal: This project led by Prof. Klemann and Dr. Ben Wubs included three PhD-project. These are finished by now. The resulting theses are:
1 Joep Schenk, Havenbaronnen en Ruhrbonzen. Oorsprong van een wederzijdse afhankelijkheidsrelatie tussen Rotterdam en het Ruhrgebied 1870-1914
2 Marten Boon, Oil Pipelines Politics and International Business. The Rotterdam Oil Port, Royal Dutch Shell and the German Hinterland, 1945-1975
3 Klara Paardenkooper, The Port of Rotterdam and the Maritime container. The rise and fall of Rotterdam's hinterland (1966-2010)

A final publication giving an overviw of this project will be published next year (2017) by Routledge.
For more than a century there was a close link between the German and Dutch economies. Since the 1990s, however, as a result of major structural changes in the Ruhr district this narrow link has become difficult to prove statistically. Between the 1870s and 1990s the two countries often seemed a union in economic matters, which does not mean that the smaller Netherlands was unilaterally dependent on its bigger neighbour however.

The German interests in the Netherlands were also enormous, and its dependency on Dutch services was significant. By its political unification in 1871, Germany had become the major power of the continent, while the Ruhr-industry evolved into the industrial heart of Germany. Simultaneously, the Netherlands became economically vital for Germany because the most important industrial centre of North-Western Europe, the Ruhr district, lay immediately over the Dutch border and Rotterdam and its harbours at the Rhine mouth developed into the outports of this most powerful industrial centre.

In the late 19th century Germany’s heavy industry became increasingly dependent on foreign raw materials, in particular iron ore. The Germany heavy industry at the river Rhine became highly competitive as freight costs over water declined in comparison to freight costs by railway. As a result, it concentrated more and more around the river Rhine. Simultaneously, the RuhrRotterdamRhine industry. In addition, the growing population of workers needed cheap grain from abroad. Location and facilities made Rotterdam into the most economic harbour for its German hinterland. Transport via the largest Dutch harbour skyrocketed and turned into a vital condition for Germany’s trade and traffic. industry and mines needed an outlet for its finished products and coal. Therefore, Rotterdam evolved into the most important outport of the Rhine industry. In addition, the growing population of workers needed cheap grain from abroad. Location and facilities made Rotterdam into the most economic harbour for its German hinterland. Transport via the largest Dutch harbour skyrocketed and turned into a vital condition for Germany’s trade and traffic.

Objective

Because Rotterdam has played a key role in the development of the economic Dutch-German dyad over the last one and a half century a closer investigation into the specific role of Rotterdam business and its harbours seems opportune. For the city, the harbour and businesses in and around Rotterdam a historical research project into the origins, the growth and results of recent structural changes of the Dutch-German economic relations – in particular the relations with Ruhr district – is highly recommended. This research therefore aims to explore the development of the economic links between Rotterdam, Rotterdam business and the Rhine mouth harbours on the one hand, and the Ruhr district and Ruhr industry on the other in the course of the 1870-2000 period.

Subprojects

The project is divided in three subprojects:

Coal, Iron Ore and Steel; Rotterdam Business and the German ‘Montan’ Industry, 1870-1940 (Joep Schenk, PhD student);
Opting for Oil; Rotterdam’s Oil Harbour and the Move from Coal to Petrochemical Feedstock of the Rhine Industry, 1945-1970 (Marten Boon, Phd student);
The Box and Rotterdam’s New Hinterland; The Rise of Container Transport and Globalisation, 1970-2000 (Klara Paardenkooper, Phd student)

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Project log

Hein A.M. Klemann
added a research item
During the 19th and early 20th century Rhine skippers had to adapt to changes in cargo, in competition and in technology. Steam barges were in the end the smallest problem. The competition of railways, but especially the new competition by huge German industrial companies, that exploited their own Rhine fleet, was the most dangerous form of new competition. Skippers only managed to cope with this by economizing on everything, what resulted in a process of pauperization.
Hein A.M. Klemann
added a research item
The historical development of Rotterdam as the bulk port of the Ruhr area, especially for coal and oil.
Hein A.M. Klemann
added a research item
Het Rijnsleepschip Marie Over het Rijnsleepschip Marie, waarvan het Maritiem Museum enige jaren terug dit model op de kop wist te tikken, is weinig bekend. Het schip werd in 1930 gebouwd door de Rotterdamsche Scheepsbouw Maatschappij, een vergeten scheepswerf op Heyplaat van de Rotterdammer A. de Bakker. De werf legde zich toe op de bouw van binnenvaartschepen. De Marie was met zijn 2100 ton voor deze werf uitzonderlijk groot. Met zo'n tonnage moet zij zo'n 95 meter lang en 12 meter breed zijn geweest. Wellicht dat het personeel, toen De Bakker zijn zilveren huwelijksjubileum vierde hem daarom een model van dit schip, mogelijk het grootste op die werf gebouwd, heeft aanboden. De Marie had geen motorvermogen. Zij voer als onderdeel van een sleep van vier tot zes door een stoom-of dieselsleper getrokken aken tussen Rotterdam en Duisburg-Ruhrort, het deel van de rivier waarop het grootste deel van de Rijnvaart plaatsvond. Zo'n sleep werd in Rotterdam of in de haven van Ruhrort samengesteld. De schippers van de aken betaalden de sleper per reis. In de haven moesten ze maar hopen dat er weer een lading voor hen was, waarna ze zich opnieuw bij een sleep aansloten. Door de crisis van de jaren 30, die in Duitsland hard aankwam, werd het krijgen van een lading voor Nederlandse schippers kort na de bouw van de Marie uitermate moeilijk. Niet alleen hadden Duitse reders veelal vaste overeenkomsten met grote concerns in het Ruhrgebied, als Krupp, Thyssen of het Rheinisch-Westfälische Kohlensyndikat, ook hadden die concerns hun eigen Rijnvloot. Pas als de eigen vloot en hun vaste reder de lading niet aankon, werden zelfstandige, veelal Nederlandse schippers ingeschakeld. Door hun positie op een restmarkt, was hun bedrijf, waarvoor ongehoord grote investeringen nodig waren, uiterst conjunctuurgevoelig. Op het model van het schip is te zien dat er op de Marie werd gewoond. Er is een roef met gezellige luikjes. In Duitsland werden Nederlandse schippersvrouwen geprezen omdat zij er toch maar voor zorgden dat de roef er op zo'n schip netjes en kleurig uitzag met gordijntjes en geraniums voor het raam. Vele Duitsers meenden dat dit toonde hoe welvarend die Nederlandse schippers wel niet waren. In feite was het bittere noodzaak dat de schippers hun gezinnen een generatie eerder aan boord hadden gehaald. Het is een misverstand te denken dat Rijn-en binnenvaarders altijd al aan boord hebben gewoond. Tot de 19 e eeuw was de hut niet meer dan een hok waarin de schipper en zijn knecht konden eten en slapen als er 's nachts niet kon worden gevaren. Toen Duitse reders verbonden aan de Duitse industrie in de late 19 e eeuw steeds grotere slepen gingen inleggen, waardoor de Rijnvaarttarieven scherp daalden, moesten de Nederlandse schippers om te overleven ook wel grotere schepen aanschaffen. Daartoe moest vaak geld bij familie, kennissen of bij de bank worden geleend. Om dat te kunnen opbrengen moest er op van alles worden bezuinigd. Vandaar dat het huis op de wal werd afgestoten, vrouw en kinderen aan boord werden genomen en de schipper ook vaak een knecht ontsloeg. Vrouw en de kinderen konden meewerken aan boord. Het gevolg was niet slechts dat de schipper zijn thuisbasis verloor, maar ook dat ze steeds meer als buitenstaanders werden gezien.
Hein A.M. Klemann
added a research item
Presentatie over de vraag waarom Pruisen de Acte van Mannheim in 1868 probeerde door te drijven en Nederland er niets voor voelde.
Hein A.M. Klemann
added a research item
In 1815, the Vienna Congress founded the Central Commission for Navigation of the Rhine (CCNR). France, the Netherlands, Prussia and four other German states became members. According to the Vienna agreement, Rhine navigation could not be prohibited for anyone and should be free from the point where the river became navigable to the sea. Initially, the CCNR was unsuccessful, as the monarchs of member states protected local interests by levying tolls and taxes. From the moment that Prussia became dominant and its industrial centre along the Ruhr became of vital importance, this commission became its instrument to modernize the Rhine and Rhine transport and make it competitive against railways.
Marten Boon
added 3 research items
World War II caused a major rupture in the Rhine region’s history and econ- omy, leaving the Rhine-Ruhr area, with its huge resource-bound coal, steel and chemical industries, shaken to its core. The subsequent occupation by Allied forces and the simultaneous discovery of huge oil reserves in the Middle East set in motion a major transition from the area’s abundant coal resources to a dependence on imported oil. This transition of the fuel base of West German and other Western European economies caused a long-term decline of the coal industry and a rapid growth of the oil and petrochemical sector. Massive invest- ments in plants and infrastructure were required to utilise the economies of scale in the transportation and processing of oil. The logistical demands of the expanding oil and petrochemical clusters in the Rhine basin fostered the emer- gence of new transnational business and infrastructural networks that strength- ened cross-border relations in the Rhine region, in particular the Lower and Middle Rhine.
This book is based on a research project funded by the Netherlands Organization for Scientific Research (NWO) entitled Outport and Hinterland. Rotterdam Business and the Ruhr Industry, 1870-2000 (NWO Humanities; Project number 360-53-120). The project aimed to explore the development of the economic links between, on the one hand, the Dutch Port of Rotterdam, Rotterdam business and the Rhine’s mouth ports, and, on the other, the German Ruhr district and Ruhr industry during the long 20th century. The central research questions concerned: how and why economic interdependencies between Rotterdam and its hinterland evolved over this 130-year period; the ways in which the main actors shaped the cross-border region; and the role that networks or clusters played in this process. Although the term hinterland is a more complex concept, for the time being it is defined as the chief inland area from where traffic arises and passes through a port. The project focused on two main actors in the Lower Rhine economy: firms and governments. The geographical location and natural conditions made the development of Europe’s most important cross-border economic region possible, but entrepreneurs and companies used these opportunities and created the economic reality: small, medium-sized and large international firms and (inter)national cartels shaped the Lower Rhine economy. Governments also played a determinative role as regulators of economic activities, owners of public companies and providers of public goods.
National competitiveness has become a misnomer, as competitiveness is increasingly understood as a regional phenomenon and regions are not confined to the boundaries of the nation state. This book focuses on the Port of Rotterdam and its hinterland – i.e. the Lower Rhine and the Ruhr area. A transnational perspective is imperative to understand the historical trajectories of the port, the hinterland and the region itself. This book brings geography and the transnational study of regions back into the historical discipline, linking places to larger geographical scales and to systems of production and consumption and the global chains in which they are organised. This book will be of interest to scholars and practitioners in urban studies, urban planning, public policy, geography and political science.
Hein A.M. Klemann
added a research item
From the late nineteenth century, Rhine shipping regained its position as the (at least quantitative) most important way of transport between the German industrial regions in Westphalia and Rhineland, and the North Sea ports. During the 20th century, Rotterdam, at the Rhine estuary thus would develop into the largest port of Europe. In the 1840s, railways became important and in the following decades their strong competitiveness gave this new mode of transport an increasing portion of the vastly growing cargo. As from 1843 Antwerp became the railway port of the region, while Rotterdam, the port at the Rhine estuary, was dependent on barging, the Dutch port had to fight back against its Belgian competitor. For that reason, in the 1860s and 70s, the Netherland invested in the Nieuwe Waterweg, a new and direct canal, connecting Rotterdam with the North Sea. From the second half of the 1880s, however, Rhine shipping regained a growing part of the cargo, especially bulk, from the train. This was completely contra the tendency anywhere else. Almost everywhere, inland shipping seemed to disappear, a development also feared for the Rhine. However, between 1870 and 1913, freight rates decreased (corrected for the price level) with no less than 81%, while German railway tariffs dropped with 36% and Dutch railway tariffs with only 11%. As a consequence, Rotterdam became overwhelmingly competitive, at least for bulk transport. Rhine shipping obtained a growing share in a growing amount of cargo and increased twelvefold in 43 years. Transport costs, and thus the high railway tariffs to Antwerp, could easily be prohibitive for the huge quantities of such low value cargo like coal or iron ore. As it is seen before that the normalization (canalization) process opened the Rhine for steam tugged barges, here the central question is not how it was possible that Rhine shipping regained its competitiveness. Iron, steam tugged barges each with a loading capacity numerous times that of traditional wooden sailing barges resulted in much lower tariffs. Here the question is how traditional Rhine skippers, confronted with these lower freight rates, coped with the consequences. To survive they had to make huge investments in new, large iron or steel barges and adjust to the new technology of steam tugged trains of barges. This had enormous consequences for their incomes and their way of living. To understand why and how Rhine skippers adapted to the new technology, the period in which this adaptation process took place should be cut in three. In the first period, that started in the 1820s and 30s, steamers appeared on the Rhine. In reaction traditional skippers reorganized the horse stations to increase their speed and diminish the cost of their way of transport. Between 1850 and 1860 towing horses were replaced by steam tugboats, as towing kept barges small and their speed low. Nonetheless, small self-employed skippers only used steam tugs in upstream direction. Until the early 20th century they sailed, at least downstream. Then, 25 years later, when the completion of Rhine canalization made it possible to multiply the scale a number of times, small, wooden sailing barges disappeared. In future, in both directions, up to 400 meters long steam tugged trains of huge iron or steel barges became common. These developments demanded enormous investments, also from small self-employed, often Dutch skippers. One way or another they had to find money for such investments. In the lower Rhine area, these small, self-employed skippers had to economize on everything to pay off their debts and survive in the new, competitive transport market. To do so somewhere between the 1870s and 1900s, they gave up their houses on the shore and took their families on board. Skipper’s families started to live on the water. Sometimes, single (unmarried) skippers lived on board before, now families started to live on board. The decision to give up their houses on the shore and live on their ships – and thus become persons without a permanent residence – had enormous implications, not just for their economic, but also for their social position. Although compared to other skippers, Rhine skippers were relatively well-off, in the eyes of the people of the shore, as inland skippers called the rest of the population, they became wandering people and as such were socially qualified amongst people working on vanity fairs, gypsies and tramps.
Hein A.M. Klemann
added a research item
‘De vrachtauto ging een steeds belangrijker rol spelen en de betekenis van de trein en tram nam af. De binnenvaart bleef in Nederland echter wel belangrijk,’ aldus de Eindhovense historicus Johan Schot. In tonkilometers verzorgen de Rijn- en binnenvaart nog ruim de helft van het transport binnen Nederland, maar het is het minste transport. In 1979, een willekeurig jaar, bestond de lading in de binnenlandse vaart (exclusief Rijnvaart) voor 69% uit zand en grind. Het Rijnvervoer tussen Rotterdam en de Duitse grens was diverser, maar ook dat betrof voor 58% zand, grind, bouwmaterialen, steenkool, erts en mest. In 2013, 34 jaar later, betrof de Rijn- en binnenvaart behalve 30% mijnbouwproducten en 16% aardolieproducten, cokes, metalen, agrarische producten, levensmiddelen en afval. Kortom, de Rijn- en binnenvaart verzorgt transport dat weinig mag kosten. 55% van de 369 miljoen ton in 2017 over binnenwater vervoerd was droge, 31% natte bulk, vooral olie en olieproducten. De schaal maakt dit rendabel. Wel neemt het containervervoer de laatste decennia toe. In 2017 was dit zo’n 52 miljoen ton, 14% van het vervoer. In Rotterdam, Europa’s grootste containerhaven, komt of gaat 35% van de containers per Rijn- of binnenvaartschip. Niettemin betreft de binnenvaart nog steeds voor 86% bulk. Ook in 1850-51 was de binnenvaart voor 87% actief in de wilde vaart die bulkvervoer verzorgde. De beurtvaart was, samen met de marktvaart, die de oogst naar een nabije stad vervoerde, goed voor 9% van het transport. De rest was pakketvaart, stoomvaart en personenvervoer per trekschuit. Omdat het in de binnenvaart goeddeels om bulk ging ook in de 19e eeuw, was ook toen de verdienste gering. Niettemin bedroeg in 1870 de bijdrage van het binnenlands transport aan het bruto binnenlands product (bbp) nog 4,8%, waarvan 83% in de Rijn- en binnenvaart werd verwezenlijkt. Daarvan nam de Rijnvaart 10% voor zijn rekening. In 1913, drieënveertig jaar later, was het aandeel van het railverkeer in het bbp gestegen van 0,8 naar 2,4%; dat van de Rijn- en binnenvaart gedaald van 4,0 naar 1,3%. Het belang van de Rijnvaart daarbinnen was inmiddels 38%. Zowel de daling van het aandeel van de Rijn- en binnenvaart in het bbp, als de groei van het aandeel van de Rijnvaart daarbinnen zette door. In de vroege 21e eeuw was de bijdrage van de Rijn- en binnenvaart aan het bbp, ondanks de enorme vervoersprestatie, marginaal, 1,6‰. Met nog geen 11 duizend arbeidsplaatsen, 1,4‰ van de werkgelegenheid, was de sector ook hierin onbetekenend. Binnen de sector was de Rijnvaart met een aandeel van 73% dominant. In tonkilometer groeide de Rijn- en binnenvaart de laatste 150 jaar bijna gelijk op met het bbp. De ontwikkeling van de inkomsten staan dan ook in geen verhouding tot die van de fysieke productie. Door schaalvergroting wist de Rijnvaart dit te overleven. In de binnenlandse vaart was dat slechts beperkt mogelijk waardoor die sector al een eeuw een kwijnend bestaan leidt. Thans is ze goed voor 0,4‰ van het bbp. Traditiegetrouw werd de binnenvaart gesteund met beurtvaartmonopolies. In de 19e eeuw drongen liberale ideeën en veranderingen in de markt zulke monopolies stap voor stap terug en in 1880 werden ze afgeschaft. Internationale regelgeving schreef toen op de Rijn al vrije vaart voor. Vanaf de jaren 1840 dwong de concurrentie van het spoor daar tot lagere tarieven en een grotere schaal. Daardoor bleef die vaart overeind en behield zij een imposant aandeel in het vervoer. De rest van de binnenvaart lijkt van gering belang. In Nederland is de trein in het goederenvervoer van weinig betekenis, zodat bij het wegvallen van de binnenlandse vaart de vrachtwagen het aandeel van 14% van dat vervoer moet opvangen. Het vrachtverkeer op de weg zou daarvoor met 39% moeten toenemen. Doordat in macro-economische cijfers externalities worden genegeerd, blijven de enorme milieuschade en immense verkeersproblemen die het gevolg zouden zijn van een wegvallen van de binnenvaart buiten beschouwing. De vraag moet dan ook luiden in hoeverre die externalities de spagaat verklaren tussen een goeddeels met het bbp meegroeiende fysieke productie en een ver daarbij achterblijvende toegevoegde waarde. Daarenboven luidt de vraag wat de gevolgen daarvan waren voor de schipper, het schippersgezin en hun bedrijf.
Hein A.M. Klemann
added a research item
For anyone familiar with the economic geography of Europe it seems obvious that the Rhine, the river linking the 19th and 20th century industrial heart of Europe in the German Ruhr area with the Dutch port of Rotterdam, became Europe’s prime transport route. One look on the map seems to make that clear. Indeed, in the early 20th century, just before World War I, almost a quarter of all German imports (in metric ton), and 22 percent of its exports crossed the German border in Rhine barges. By then Rhine transport was so important that in 1909 the Chief of Staff of the German armed forces wrote that in case of a major European conflict, the Netherlands should be kept neutral to guarantee the supply of Germany with raw materials and foodstuffs. The Netherlands should, as he wrote, become the windpipe Germany could breath through. Nonetheless, in the 1840s and 1850s, when industrialization in Germany, and especially the Ruhr area started, it was not the river but it were new railways that ensured transport needed. The construction of railways resulted in an enormous demand for coal, iron, steel, engineering and machinery. Thus it stimulated heavy industry in the Ruhr coal basin and at the same time opened up markets for the products of the new industry.
Hein A.M. Klemann
added 2 research items
Economists, modern urban elites and pre-1914 German and French businessmen were clear: protectionism is irrational, undermines the global economy as well as the economies of individual countries and therefore should be rejected. However, during both waves of globalization – the 1870-1913 and the 1970-2015 – anti-globalism, nationalism and protectionism were of growing importance and threatened the advantages of globalization. Before calling anti-globalists or nationalists narrow-minded or even racists, it should be analysed what are the causes of modern nationalism and anti-globalist feelings. Only when we know these causes, it will be possible to decide how to react on such feelings. To analyse this, first internationalist of both periods will be compared. Then the question will be answered who profited of globalization and who were the victims. Then, it is necessary to introduce nationalism as an argument to support the interests of those who consider themselves victims of globalization and what consequences this had for the economic policy in some countries in the 19th century. Finally, some remarks are made on the question how to handle nowadays claims for a more nationalistic policy and how to protect the victims of globalization without throwing out the baby with the bathwater and destroying the global economy with all advantages it has.
Het probleem van transnationale geschiedenis dat het onderzoeksobject grensoverschrijdend is, maar de binnen nationaal.
Marten Boon
added 2 research items
Rising demand for oil in Western Europe prompted major oil companies to study the construction of an integrated Trans-European crude oil pipeline in 1956. Although technically and economically feasible, an integrated pipeline system was never constructed. This chapter questions why the plan failed and evaluates the main causes for its failure. The explanation focuses on the efforts of the pipeline consortium to devise a legal and organizational structure that would protect the pipeline from political risks deriving from the Cold War geopolitics of oil. Emboldened postcolonial regimes in the Middle East challenged the majors’ control over oil production and exports. Simultaneously, the majors saw their European markets threatened by growing Soviet oil exports, aggressive competition from Italy’s ENI and potential French state interference seeking to push Algerian oil onto the market. The major oil companies Royal Dutch Shell, Standard Oil of New Jersey and British Petroleum envisioned the Trans-European pipeline as a barrier to entry and to establish a European pipeline oligopoly that would harness their control over West European markets. Facing uncertainty over pipeline regulation in France and other West European countries, the consortium pursued a legal and organisational strategy that would protect the pipeline against state interference and secure the ultimate objective of controlling Europe’s pipeline infrastructure.
Hein A.M. Klemann
added 15 research items
In the Netherlands economic war preparation started early. When in 1936 Hitlers armies entered the Rhineland, it became clear, also in The Hague, that Europe was in for another major war. The experience of the neutral Kingdom during the Great War was reason for government and private compa¬nies to take a number of measures in the economic field. The Hague started an economic war preparation policy. When in May 1940 the Dutch government took refuge in England, Hitler decided that the Netherlands should not be governed by the German army, but that this Germanic country should get a civil administration led by the Austrian Nazi dr. Arthur Seyß-Inquart. Seyß-Inquart got his orders directly from his Führer. In the economic field, however, he should also accept orders from Göring as leader of the Four Year Plan. Seyß-Inquart first duty was to win the Dutch for national socialism. At the same time he should exploit the Dutch economy to the German advantage. As an extra the never published English version is added.
The tradition in Dutch economic policy to keep the price level low by freezing wages results from the dependency from international contacts of a small open economy. The importance of trade and the resulting vulnerability are known to politicians, businessmen and trade union leaders alike. The common interest in strong competitiveness limits the internal competition between labour and employers. According to Peter Katzenstein this was not characteristic for the Netherlands, but for all small, highly developed countries. In the post-war period, in such countries economic corporatism and a policy of wage restrain were the answers to the problems resulting from their openness. During the 1930s and 1940s, protectionism and devaluations made clear how important their competitiveness is. Apart from relatively low wages, a high productivity could generate competitive strength, and, as the two are more or less opposite to each other, even seems a better solution in the long run. In the short run a salary freeze is easier, however, and most of the time politicians choose for easy solutions that generate quick results. Another traditional element in the Dutch policy is striving for monetary stability, i.e. stable exchange rates, especially with Germany. This neighbouring country was and is more than any other of vital importance for the economy. Stable monetary relations combined with a low wage policy, should strengthen competitiveness on the market of this major trading partner. Before 1940, or even before 1914, the situation was not fundamentally different from the post 1945 situation. Before 1914, the Netherlands was even more dependent from trade and Germany played a more important role in this. Therefore, it seems a good question to ask whether elements of the post-war policy to keep competitiveness high by low wages and stable exchange rates, could already be found in earlier periods. For that reason the central question in this article will be whether before 1940 the Dutch tried to obtain low bilateral real exchange rates by keeping their internal price levels relatively low, and their currency stable with that of Germany.
Hein A.M. Klemann
added a research item
It seems so simple. From the 1850s, Germany became the dominant industrial power and the Ruhr-area the most important industrial centre of the continent. From a Dutch perspective this area along the Rhine and its subsidiaries is just across the border. Near Rotterdam the Rhine flows into the sea, and for that reason this became the biggest port of Europe, from 1962 even of the world. In fact it was not simple at all. In the 1840s, when industrialization started, all over Germany railways were built, linking the Ruhr with all parts of Europe. As railways formed a new network, they were built without taking existing connections into account. For centuries, the Dutch exploited a monopoly on transport between the sea and western Germany. After its 1813 restoration, the country tried to revitalize this and tax the track between Cologne and the sea. As a result, in Germany the Dutch were hated. According to 19th century German nationalists some cattle breeders, fishermen and traders misused the Reich’s 16th century weakness to become independent and exploit the rest of Germany. Therefore, the Netherlands was German and should be part of it again. According to the economist Friedrich List ‘Holland is by its geographical position, for its trading and industrial relationships and by descent and language of its inhabitants, a German, in times of national discord from Germany separated province; without its reincorporation into the German Confederation Germany is comparable to a house whose doors belongs to a stranger.’ In the post-Napoleonic period, it was considered a problem in the principal Rhineland trading centre, Cologne, that the Dutch continued to control and exploit the track to the sea. Hence, in 1843 it was celebrated as a triumph when a railway to Antwerp was opened, creating the option to evade the Dutch. Railways to German ports quickly followed. However, at the end of the century the Rhine and its estuary were the most important links between the Germany’s industrial centres and their overseas connections again. Here the question will be what role the Dutch and the Central Commission for the Navigation of the Rhine (CCNR) played in the recovery of barging and what consequences this had.
Hein A.M. Klemann
added a research item
For anyone familiar with the economic geography of Europe it seems obvious that the Rhine, the river linking the 19th and 20th century industrial heart of Europe in the German Ruhr area with the Dutch port of Rotterdam, became Europe’s prime transport route. One look on the map seems to make this clear. Indeed, in the early 20th century, just before World War I, almost a quarter of all German imports (in metric ton), and 22 percent of its exports crossed the German border in Rhine barges. By then Rhine transport was so important that in 1909 the Chief of Staff of the German armed forces decided that in case of a major European conflict, the Netherlands should be kept neutral to guarantee the supply of Germany with raw materials and foodstuffs. Nonetheless, in the 1840s and 1850s, when the industrialization in Germany and especially the Ruhr area started, it was not the river but it were the new railways that ensured all transport needed. The construction of railways resulted in an enormous demand for coal, iron, steel, engineering and machinery. Thus it stimulated heavy industry in the Ruhr coal basin and at the same time opened up markets for the products of the new industry. This article explain how, as a consequence of the activities of the supranational Central Commission for the Navigation of the Rhine, Rhine navigation could obtain a dominant position in transport again, and what made this commission so successful.
Marten Boon
added 3 research items
The dissertation questions how and why the transition from coal to oil affected the economic relations between the Port of Rotterdam and its German hinterland between 1945 and 1975. From the 1880s onwards, Rotterdam had become the main seaport of the German industrial heartland in the Ruhr area. The transition from coal to oil in the 1950s and 1960s required a new infrastructure – pipelines – to supply the expanding West German market with crude oil. Despite its intimate transport relations to the German hinterland, Rotterdam faced competition from other ports. The West German federal government favoured a German port over Rotterdam, whereas multinational oil companies pursued an integrated Trans-European pipeline system starting in the French port of Marseille. However, the lack of European political and economic integration ultimately ended the Trans-European pipeline project. The Rotterdam port benefited from the outcome because a pipeline connection was established to the German hinterland as a result of the failure of the Trans-European pipeline plan. This gave Rotterdam a captive hinterland in West Germany, a position it still enjoys today. The thesis highlights how transnational economic relations are threatened by economic and technological change and are conditioned by the tensions between national politics and international business. The study uses a business historical approach and combines a transnational case study of Royal Dutch Shell with Dutch and German public archival material.
The energy transition from coal to oil that evolved in Western Europe in the 1950s and 1960s caused the Ruhr coal mining sector to descend into crisis, whilst the Rotterdam port experienced unprecedented growth. The Rotterdam port developed from a transit port for its Rhine-Ruhr hinterland into Europe’s largest oil and petrochemical refining cluster. The literature assumes that industrialization decreased the German hinterland’s importance to the Rotterdam oil port. However, the extent to which this holds has received surprisingly little attention in the port’s historiography, a point that this paper aims to redress. Central research questions are: How and why did the energy transition in the RhineRuhr hinterland affect the development of the Rotterdam oil port between 1950 and 1975? How did this affect transport relations between the port and its hinterland? Using transport statistics, the paper concludes that in terms of the port’s transit function, the German hinterland has indeed declined in importance to the Rotterdam oil port. However, in terms of the port’s production function, the German hinterland has provided significant market potential for the development of the oil refining cluster in the port and remained important throughout the period.
Hein A.M. Klemann
added a research item
Port competition is hinterland competition. When a region can be supplied from more than one port, the adequacy of the services in the port and their costs as well as the connections between these ports and their hinterland will be decisive for the question which port will be chosen. Theo Notteboom emphasizes that it is difficult to say exactly what is the hinterland of a port, that the hinterland can differ in time and for different kinds of cargo, and that ‘market dynamics makes it dangerous to have a static concept of ports hinterlands as being God-given and everlasting.’ Nonetheless, when looking to continental Western Europe, transport markets are characterised by the competition between a limited numbers of ports at least from the 17th century. As an economist who just analysed the last few years, Notteboom is right when he comes to the conclusion that fluctuations are characteristic, but it may be useful to abstract from all these nervous day to day instabilities and draw a long line through the centuries. This chapter will try to do this for the ports of continental Western Europe. Thus it can be seen which long-term developments were decisive for the position of the different ports within the Le Havre-Hamburg range.
Hein A.M. Klemann
added 4 research items
Tussen 1962 en 2004 was Rotterdam de grootste haven ter wereld en buiten Azië staat Rotterdam nog steeds bovenaan. De verklaring lijkt eenvoudig. Duitsland is het belangrijkste industrieland van Europa en lange tijd was het Ruhrgebied Duitslands belangrijkste industriële centrum. Voor dat gebied is de Rijn de verbinding met zee. Aan de monding van de belangrijkste arm van de Rijn ligt Rotterdam. Hoe eenvoudig dit ook lijkt, juist is het niet. Toen de Duitse industrialisatie in het midden van de negentiende eeuw begon, was spoorwegaanleg hier de motor achter. De industrialisatie werd veroorzaakt door de vraag van het spoor naar ijzer, staal, machines en steenkool. Bovendien legden de spoorwegen markten open voor de industrie. Tussen 1840 en 1860 groeiden de Duitse spoorwegen van 500 naar 14 duizend km, het spoorvervoer van 3 naar 1.675 miljoen ton-km, terwijl de spoorwegtarieven daalden met 4,4 procent per jaar. In 1843 kreeg Antwerpen een spoorverbinding, waardoor het mogelijk werd Nederland, dat de doorvoer tussen Duitsland en de zee belastte, te omzeilen. Al in 1844, het eerste volle jaar na de opening van de spoorweg Keulen-Antwerpen, nam die 23 procent van het verkeer tussen de zee en het Duitse Rijngebied voor zijn rekening. Railvervoer over Antwerpen was sneller, zekerder en goedkoper dan Rijnvaart over Rotterdam. Nog in 1878 koos de exportorganisatie van de Duitse kolenmijnen daarom voor Antwerpen. De vraag hoe Rotterdam ondanks dat de grootste haven van Europa werd en bleef, moet daarom nog worden beantwoord.
Hein A.M. Klemann
added 2 research items
Voor de stoommachine werd ingevoerd werd er langs de grote rivieren stroomopwaarts veelal gejaagd. De stroom was vaak sterker dan de wind, waardoor jagen de enige oplossing was. Daartoe werden paarden, soms meerdere paarden tegelijkertijd ingezet. Het onderhoud van de jaagpaden waarop na de winter steeds werd aangedrongen, roept de vraag op waar die paden bij een traditionele rivier zonder zomerdijken nu precies lagen. Het is niet duidelijk uit de bronnen en ook niet-schriftelijke bronnen, zoals allerlei plaatwerk en schilderijen kunnen hierover geen uitsluitsel geven.
Rhine transport was not an absolute condition for German industrialization. Railways proved to be efficient, and in the 1840–1870 period were essential for the industrialization of the Ruhr area. The key questions addressed in this article are: why did inland navigation not disappear from the Rhine region (as it did elsewhere), even recovering after the 1870s? And why did it have an unassailable competitive advantage from the 1890s onwards? Political developments leading to the liberalization of Rhine shipping and the canalization of the river created the opportunity to increase the scale of shipping. This gave it competitive advantages when it came to bulk transport. This article uses new data on freight rates in the Rhine delta to demonstrate the course of Rhine competitiveness. Furthermore, it identifies the institutional conditions, and the technological and organizational improvements, that were the basis of this growing competitiveness. The conclusion is that the element of German international trade that went by the Rhine correlated with the cost of Rhine shipping when compared to that of railway transport. As a consequence of the recovery of Rhine shipping, the port of Rotterdam became stronger than its Belgian neighbour, Antwerp.
Hein A.M. Klemann
added 4 research items
In the nineteenth century, steam power and railways caused a transport revolution. Not only did investments in railways push industrialization as the demand for coal, iron, and steel rocketed with their development, but the railways also connected industrial centres with markets, raw material producing areas, and seaports. Inland transport became possible on a previously unknown scale. Indeed, in the period 1840–70, the train became the dominant mode of transport, with inland navigation losing its leading position. A rapidly growing rail network was able to solve most transport problems of the developing industry, including that in the Ruhr area. This region built one of the densest rail networks in Europe, with numerous national and international connections. By 1870, most transport in the Rhine basin took place by rail. Nevertheless, in this part of Europe, inland navigation made a come-back and from the 1890s recaptured its dominance. This development requires explanation as such a recovery did not take place in other industrialized regions. It strengthened the competitiveness of Rotterdam against Antwerp, Hamburg and Bremen. From the 1890s, Rotterdam developed into the most important seaport of the Ruhr area and as that area became the principal industrial centre of Europe, it became Europe’s main port. Especially in the post-1945 period this caused an enormous port expansion in the direction of and even into the sea. This article tries to explain why Rotterdam became the first port of Europe and its consequences for its expansion, but also why in the post-war period the port grew fast again until 1973, but competition became fiercer after 1989. To understand that it is necessary to turn first to the Rhine.
The Transnational Rhine Project focuses on long-term economic development in Europe’s prime economic region. Although the idea is accepted that the Rhine region – with the Ruhr area as its centre and Rotterdam as its port – was and is a major, during a substantial part of the last 150 years even the principal centre of economic activity in Europe, it only recently became an object of comprehensive historical research. As the region includes territories in Germany, France, the Netherlands, Belgium, Luxembourg, and Switzerland, the traditional national bias in historiography was a problem. The aim of this multidisciplinary project is to analyse the historical development of the transnational Rhine region that included territories in all Rhine states from Switzerland to the Netherlands, during the period 1850- 2000, that is, from the German industrialisation until the present day. It explores its competitive strength, analyses changes and continuities, the political and institutional consequences, and the role of the river Rhine. Here the aim is to introduce this transnational project, its object of research, and its theoretical basis.
Hein A.M. Klemann
added 3 research items
In this article the central question is what theory best explains why in a period nationalism seemed the prevailing idea, the CCNR became influential. Therefore it should be asked whether the member states tried to diminish political insecurity by handing over authority. If so, weak, fearful members should be the supporters of this organization. If however the Commission was fortified by the more powerful member-states, it should be considered an instrument to rationalize the decision making process in international relations. As the CCNR-archives on the period are lost, it is only possible to answer these questions by combining earlier publications, newspapers, and published documents. The first century of the CCNR fell apart in three periods: the first, lasting until 1830, characterized by rivalry and struggle for power ended with Act of Mainz (1831); the second, 1831-1871, characterized by an increasing Prussian influence and great efforts to liberalize the river from protectionist regulation and natural obstacles with the German unification; the third, 1871-1914, characterized by harmonic relations under German/Prussian dominance, with the Great War.
In his article German unity, A.J.P. Taylor started with the provocative sentence: ‘What is wrong with Germany is that there is too much of it.’ Here it is not the question whether that its true, but whether it felt like that. And I can tell you that from the German wars of unification in the 1860s and early 1870s until two decades ago, the general feeling in the Netherlands was that ‘there were too many Germans, that Germany was too strong, too well organized, and too well equipped with industrial resources’, as Taylor explains in the next sentence. The fact that the two countries were also strongly economically intertwined, only seemed to make Germany more dangerous.
Marten Boon
added 2 research items
Nationalistic Nazi politics created huge problems for foreign multinational firms in Germany. Business during the Nazi period has been characterised as either state controlled, complacent or complicit. Yet, some cases show that local management had considerable room for manoeuvre and acted primarily with the integrity and long-term interest of the company in mind. This article questions to what extent Royal Dutch Shell (RDS) controlled its assets in Nazi Germany and what its room for manoeuvre was. Although RDS lost control over its subsidiary over the course of the 1930s, the local management retained considerable room for manoeuvre well into the war.
Hein A.M. Klemann
added 3 research items
Presentation the ideas to write a history of Dutch on shipbuilding
Presentation on the Dutch-German economic relations in the period 1830-1860 and the economic consequences
Hein A.M. Klemann
added a project goal
This project led by Prof. Klemann and Dr. Ben Wubs included three PhD-project. These are finished by now. The resulting theses are:
1 Joep Schenk, Havenbaronnen en Ruhrbonzen. Oorsprong van een wederzijdse afhankelijkheidsrelatie tussen Rotterdam en het Ruhrgebied 1870-1914
2 Marten Boon, Oil Pipelines Politics and International Business. The Rotterdam Oil Port, Royal Dutch Shell and the German Hinterland, 1945-1975
3 Klara Paardenkooper, The Port of Rotterdam and the Maritime container. The rise and fall of Rotterdam's hinterland (1966-2010)
A final publication giving an overviw of this project will be published next year (2017) by Routledge.
For more than a century there was a close link between the German and Dutch economies. Since the 1990s, however, as a result of major structural changes in the Ruhr district this narrow link has become difficult to prove statistically. Between the 1870s and 1990s the two countries often seemed a union in economic matters, which does not mean that the smaller Netherlands was unilaterally dependent on its bigger neighbour however.
The German interests in the Netherlands were also enormous, and its dependency on Dutch services was significant. By its political unification in 1871, Germany had become the major power of the continent, while the Ruhr-industry evolved into the industrial heart of Germany. Simultaneously, the Netherlands became economically vital for Germany because the most important industrial centre of North-Western Europe, the Ruhr district, lay immediately over the Dutch border and Rotterdam and its harbours at the Rhine mouth developed into the outports of this most powerful industrial centre.
In the late 19th century Germany’s heavy industry became increasingly dependent on foreign raw materials, in particular iron ore. The Germany heavy industry at the river Rhine became highly competitive as freight costs over water declined in comparison to freight costs by railway. As a result, it concentrated more and more around the river Rhine. Simultaneously, the RuhrRotterdamRhine industry. In addition, the growing population of workers needed cheap grain from abroad. Location and facilities made Rotterdam into the most economic harbour for its German hinterland. Transport via the largest Dutch harbour skyrocketed and turned into a vital condition for Germany’s trade and traffic. industry and mines needed an outlet for its finished products and coal. Therefore, Rotterdam evolved into the most important outport of the Rhine industry. In addition, the growing population of workers needed cheap grain from abroad. Location and facilities made Rotterdam into the most economic harbour for its German hinterland. Transport via the largest Dutch harbour skyrocketed and turned into a vital condition for Germany’s trade and traffic.
Objective
Because Rotterdam has played a key role in the development of the economic Dutch-German dyad over the last one and a half century a closer investigation into the specific role of Rotterdam business and its harbours seems opportune. For the city, the harbour and businesses in and around Rotterdam a historical research project into the origins, the growth and results of recent structural changes of the Dutch-German economic relations – in particular the relations with Ruhr district – is highly recommended. This research therefore aims to explore the development of the economic links between Rotterdam, Rotterdam business and the Rhine mouth harbours on the one hand, and the Ruhr district and Ruhr industry on the other in the course of the 1870-2000 period.
Subprojects
The project is divided in three subprojects:
Coal, Iron Ore and Steel; Rotterdam Business and the German ‘Montan’ Industry, 1870-1940 (Joep Schenk, PhD student);
Opting for Oil; Rotterdam’s Oil Harbour and the Move from Coal to Petrochemical Feedstock of the Rhine Industry, 1945-1970 (Marten Boon, Phd student);
The Box and Rotterdam’s New Hinterland; The Rise of Container Transport and Globalisation, 1970-2000 (Klara Paardenkooper, Phd student)