The Rheinische Mühlen-Dokumentationszentrum, or RMDZ for short, is a registered non-profit association in Duisburg / North Rhine-Westphalia. We support research into and science of the cultural heritage of mills and promote the preservation of knowledge about mill technology and history. Since 2014, the volunteer research team has been documenting mills on the basis of their scenic characteristics and mechanical artefacts. In addition, printed and unprinted sources in libraries and archives are being evaluated and made available to the general public.
The main working area is the state of North Rhine-Westphalia in Germany. The association is also active nationally and internationally.
The history of the development of mills begins with the cultivation of grain. Linked to this was the need to grind the grain for food production. Stones were used manually to grind the grain. In Roman Antiquity, the use of hydropower to power a mill was technical milestone.
For more than 2000 years, water wheels and, for about 800 years, windmills have been used to grind the grain for human nutrition mechanically, and to ease the work of manual production.
Mills with a vertical water wheel and an angular gear, as the Roman builder Vitruvius describes in the 1st century BC, have set standards in mill technology. The horizontal water wheel, standard in the Mediterranean and in the Orient, set an example for the development of modern water turbines. In this way, in addition to the flour mill, more than 100 types of industrial mills were developed, which were part of the basis of the industrialization.
As late as 1895, during the height of the industrialization of the German Empire, half of all workshops were water or windmills. 95% of windmills only worked as grain mills at this time, but about 60% of water mills still worked as factory mills. The industrialization and thus the emergence of new energies did not automatically cause an end to windmills and watermills. Rather, wind and water mills existed side by side with steam mills and motorized mills until the beginning of the 20th century. Only the complete changes in production processes and industrial roads ended the dominance of the wind and water mills standing in the open landscape.
Since then, mills and their varied technical facilities have disappeared from our environment by being repurposed or demolished. With this disappearance, technical and social knowledge is also lost. Therefore, we look for and determine relevant information about mills and their locations and make it available to all interested parties.
If you are interested in our voluntary work, please contact us via the contact form, we would be delighted to hear from you: http://www.rmdz.de/kontakt/kontaktformular/.