Eisenerzgrube Lengede-Broistedt

Das Wunder von Lengede

Useful Information

Location: Salzgitter Lengede-Broistedt
(52.199987, 10.324977)
Open: No restrictions.
Fee: free.
Classification: MineIron Mine
Light: n/a
Guided tours: self guided
Photography: allowed
Accessibility: yes
Bibliography: Otto Bilges et al. (1987): Die Lichter sind erloschen - Über den historischen Bergbau im Landkreis Peine, Doris Bode Verlag, Haltern 1987, ISBN 3-925094-07-5. (Deutsch - German)
Rainer Slotta (1986): Technische Denkmäler in der Bundesrepublik Deutschland, Band 5, Teil 1: Der Eisenerzbergbau, Deutsches Bergbaumuseum, Bochum 1986. (Deutsch - German)
Johannes Fischer, Niklas Irlich (2017): Die Eisenerzgrube Lengede-Broistedt 1872-1977 Eine Abhandlung über 105 Jahre Bergbaugeschichte in Lengede. Books on Demand; 1. Edition, 316 Seiten, ISBN-10: 3743187620, ISBN-13: 978-3743187627 (Deutsch - German)
Address: Touristinfo Braunschweig, Kleine Burg 14, 38100 Braunschweig, Tel: +49-531-470-2040, Fax: +49-531-470-2044. E-mail:
As far as we know this information was accurate when it was published (see years in brackets), but may have changed since then.
Please check rates and details directly with the companies in question if you need more recent info.


1824-1825 First unsuccessful smelting experiments documented.
1860 fisrt written mention of open cast mining.
17-NOV-1872 property purchased by the Ilseder Hütte.
1884 Narrow-gauge railway for ore transport.
1889 Reichsbahn Hildesheim-Braunschweig via Broistedt completed.
1912 Start of Schacht Anna.
1914 Switch to underground mining with collapsing roadways from open pit.
1921 Completion of Mathilde shaft and start of deep mining.
24-OCT-1963 Mine disaster at Lengede.
1964 Comprehensive modernisation of the mine.
26-JAN-1968 Mine accident with 12 deaths due to explosives blast.
30-DEC-1977 Shutdown due to exhaustion of economically recoverable ore reserves.
1979 Dismantling completed.


The Lengede-Broistedt iron ore deposit forms a 5 km long and 1.5-2 km wide depression. It extends northeast-southwest and dips from north to south at about 6-10 gon. Due to the depression, the ores were highest at the northern edge and even reached the surface between the villages of Vallstedt and Barbecke. The deepest point of the deposit is about 100 m below ground.

The ore deposit is a so-called debris ore deposit. The Upper Cretaceous sea washed clay ironstones (geodes) out of the clay in which they were embedded. This ore accumulated in a depression into which it was washed by to ocean currents, but could not leave due to its heavy weight. The cracks were then filled by clayey and calcareous binders. This deposit contains 26-29% iron, 16-18% lime and 14-17% silica.


This is a rather strange place, and it is actually not a show mine. There is no guided tour underground, not even a mining museum. In fact, there is hardly anything except an exciting story and a film. But let's start at the very beginning.

The Eisenerzgrube Lengede-Broistedt (iron ore mine Lengede-Broistedt) is an iron mine near the small town of Lengede. The first unsuccessful smelting attempts are documented from the years 1824-1825. Around 1860 there was open-cast mining, probably even earlier wild mining by local farmers. Modern mining began with the purchase of the area by the company Ilseder Hütte from Julius Lüchau, a merchant from Hanover. They started systematic mining and after removing the overburden by hand, mining increased to 15,000 t in 1877. The parts of the ore close to the surface were mined in open pits. From 1884 there was a narrow-gauge railway to the smelter in Groß Ilsede, and in 1889 the later Hildesheim-Braunschweig imperial railway line via Broistedt was completed. This meant that the ore could be transported away optimally.

In 1914, the profitability limit of the time was reached with 20 m overburden. It therefore became cheaper to mine underground, and so work began on the Anna shaft as early as 1912, which reached the ore deposit at a depth of 65m in 1915. Initially, however, mining was still carried out from the open pit in dipping drifts and right-angled crosscuts. With the completion of Mathilde Shaft in 1921, ore was extracted exclusively from the deep shafts. Mining increased considerably as a result of the world wars. The highest number of employees was reached in 1921 with 2110 men and women. After the war, the workforce declined, but mining was further increased through mechanisation.

The Grubenunglück von Lengede (Lengede mine accident) occurred on 24-OCT-1963. At around 20, the dam of clarification pond 12 burst and about 475,000 m³ of water and sludge flowed into the Mathilde mine shaft. The pit was flooded from the 100 m level to the 60 m level. At that time 129 miners were underground. Two were able to exit via Mathilde shaft, 41 via East 1 shaft. Another 36 placed ladders in the ventilation shaft West 14, and the underground fire brigade lowered a rope ladder from the top. In this way, 79 were able to save themselves in the first few hours.

But now the terror began, different groups of survivors were trapped in different parts of the pit. There they were cut off from all supplies, the worst being the lack of breathing air. The rescue was carried out with search boreholes, parts of the pit that were too high to be flooded were targeted. At the same time, the water was pumped out of the pit, thus lowering the water level. This enabled some miners to free themselves or they were rescued by raft. A group of 21 miners had rescued themselves into an already abandoned part of the mine, but were trapped there. Ten were killed in the following days by falling rocks. They were supplied with food and clothing via a 58 mm calibre search bore. After 14 days, they were rescued through a rescue borehole with a diameter of about 40 cm. This was done using a Dahlbuschbombe, a 2.5-metre-long and 38.5-centimetre-wide torpedo-shaped rescue capsule lowered through the borehole and used to pull the miners up one by one.

What was special about this mining accident was, on one hand, the massive media participation. All over Germany, people were feverishly following every piece of news, the tension rose to immeasurable levels. Two weeks of entertainment where human lives were at stake. Politicians travelled to get a picture of the situation. At times, 366 newspaper reporters from all over the world and 83 radio and television staff were on the ground. On the other hand a whole series of fortunate circumstances made the rescue possible in the first place. Eventually, the rescue became known as the "Wunder von Lengede" (Miracle of Lengede).

The disaster and the rescue were such an integral part of the young Federal Republic, even many decades later everyone who was there knew what the Miracle of Lengede was. So the event was covered in documentaries in 1969, 1979, 1997 and 2003. And in 2003 it was finally filmed as a two-part feature film with great success.

Little remains on site today. The railway line is almost unchanged, a few buildings of the mine have been preserved but are used for other purposes. The flooded opencast mines in the north are now bathing lakes or nature reserves. But the actual site of the rescue borehole is now a monument. The closure of the borehole is a memorial and a wall around the small square gives the key dates and the names of the victims and those rescued. A neighbour even has a small mining exhibition with a Dahlbush bomb in his garden. But despite the extroverted exhibition, he has a massive fence and aggressive guard dogs that bark at every visitor.