Chancellor Merkel congratulates Knappschaft on 750th anniversary

The German pension insurance Knappschaft-Bahn-See (KBS) held its 750th anniversary celebrations at the World Heritage Site Zeche Zollverien today. The most prominent guest was Chancellor Dr. Angela Merkel. “The Knappschaft has had a huge influence on German social history”, the Chancellor said in her speech. “The Knappschaft’s values have been kept up over centuries”, explained Angela Merkel, “compulsory social insurance contributions, common contribution payments and social self-administration are characteristics which we are still relying on today.” The chancellor praised the system of associations and the innovative capabilities of the Knappschaft: “It is an exemplary social security system which has given so many people security in their lives.”

Almost 600 guests from the worlds of politics and business, the churches and social insurance bodies had been invited to join in the Knappschaft’s proud anniversary, including the Federal Health Minister Dr. Philipp Rösler, the parliamentary state secretary at the Federal Ministry of Employment (BMAS) Hans-Joachim Fuchtel as well as the Essen Bishop Dr. Franz-Josef Overbeck.

The chairman of KBS, Ulrich Freese, emphasised the significance of the Knappschaft’s anniversary: “This anniversary not only sees us celebrating a certain number of years, but we are also taking the opportunity to remind ourselves of the basic requirements for living in society. Social and health care both have their origins in the Knappschaft and the Knappschaft’s idea of solidarity was the real starting point for social insurance.”

“The Knappschaft also laid the foundations for self-administered and contribution-based insurance which are the basis of social insurance today”, Freese explains.

In his closing words, the First Director of the KBS, Dr. Georg Greve, thanked Chancellor Angela Merkel for coming. She is now the second statesperson to have honoured the Knappschaft with a visit, the first was Theodor Heuss.

The Knappschaft was originally brought into being because of the dangers involved in the mining industry and the need for social insurance. The origins go back to a document dated 28 December 1260 from the Hildesheim Bishop Johann I, in which he promises his protection for a guild supporting ill and injured miners in Rammelsberg near Goslar. This makes the Knappschaft the oldest social insurance in the world. Over the centuries the Knappschaft has had a larger influence on the German and European social systems than almost any other institution. In the year 1890 the Knappschafts in the Märkische District, Essen-Werden and Mülheim were all merged to form the Allgemeiner Knappschaftsverein Bochum which also has its headquarters in Bochum. This merger created the largest Knappschaft society in Germany.

The original social insurance organisation for miners has grown into a modern service provider today, serving over five million insured persons and customers in Germany, now known as the Deutsche Rentenversicherung Knappschaft-Bahn-See

This association also includes pensions insurance, supplementary pension insurance, seamen’s insurance, health and nursing care insurance, their own medical network with doctors’ practices, hospitals, rehab-clinics, a social medical service as well as a mini-job agency.

On the picture: Chancellor Dr. Angela Merkel was the most prominent guest at the “750 years’ Knappschaft” anniversary event in the casino at the Zeche Zollverein in Essen. Federal Minster of Health, Dr. Philipp Rösler (2nd from left) and the Parliamentary Secretary of State at the Federal Ministry of Labour and Social Affairs (BMAS) Hans-Joachim Fuchtel (left) accompanied the Chancellor. They were greeted before the speeches by Ulrich Freese (2nd from right), Chairman of the Deutsche-Rentenversicherung Knappschaft-Bahn-See , and Dr. Georg Greve (right), Director of the Deutsche-Rentenversicherung Knappschaft-Bahn-See.

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