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Industrialization in Saxony and Chemnitz
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Hans Brühl
Mon Feb 06 2012, 01:53pm
Registered Member #6
Joined: Tue Jan 31 2012, 04:54pm
Posts: 9

The German history of industrialization featuring Saxony has an important component. Some decisions of Saxony Kings´ governments in the 18th and the first half of 19th supported the development from manufacture to industrial production. On the other hand Saxony went to some wars – with the result of local devastation. It was the time of the so called Industrial Revolution, when after England catched up the European continent with the construction of industrial machines. Chemnitz and Saxony are models where medieval mills along rivers changed into more modern buildings of production. The waterpower of the Middle Age changed into means of the technical devolopment. Stream engines and electricity /1/.

The source of industrialization of our home town was in nearby situated villages along the river Chemnitz.  These villages later became part of the former mediaval city. Still today its name Altchemnitz (“Alt” means “old”) indicates that is one of the oldest parts of Chemnitz. Behind Altchemnitz is situated Harthau where Carl Friedrich Bernhard founded in 1798 one of the first and largest spinning mills /2/. Along this river valley was built end of 19th century that railway what today is the pilot line of the so called “Chemnitz model/Chemnitzer Modell” /3/. This is a traffic system what “united” the two means of transport railway and tram. Trams are going from its own network inside the city direct on the railway network existing around of Chemnitz. The current rebuilding of the Chemnitz main station has to do with the fact that more and more surroundings places associate with Chemnitz.  

The early and successful industrialisation would never have been possible without the exchange of knowledge, people and goods. It is for that reason that a locomotive stands in the centre of this section. Railway lines connected people across all geographical political and language borders. The factory owner Richard Hartmann, who himself came as a journeyman blacksmith from French Alsace to Chemnitz, laid the foundations for the successful locomotive industry of Saxony /4/. Especially in Chemnitz “the locomotive” was in the centre of production. But not only workers had weekly one or two new iron monsters drive across the city on rails leading to a railway station. People could see it as attraction or as a normal thing that the traffic of horses and pedrestians must give way for these special industrial products – on its way from workshop through Chemnitz´  city center to the near the main station of today already existing railnet /5/.

Like Hartmann, the so called “King of lokomotives”, a lot of inventors appeared and brought their influence to bear. Exemples of producers (also named in /2/) like Johann Samuel Schwalbe (in times of GDR: Germania), Louis Schönherr (GDR: WEBA), brothers Nevoigt (GDR: Diamant), Hermann Pfauter (GDR: Modul), Oscar Schimmel (GDR: Texitima) or Schubert&Salzer (GDR; Wirkbau) are well known by experts of their special products. These names represent only a small part of the Chemnitz industry. Chemnitz and Saxony were also very famous for automotive production: Wanderer in Chemnitz, DKW in Zschopau, Horch and Audi in Zwickau. In 1932 all four joined together to the Auto Union.
These industries made Chemnitz and Saxony famous in the world. In the middle of the 19th century, the contemporaries already called Chemnitz "the Saxon Manchester" /6/.  For some years was Chemnitz the city with the highest tax revenue in Germany. The population increased from less 100 thousend to double and triple. The first and second world wars disturbed works and production – or included the production into the war machinery. The result in 1945 was a destroyed Chemnitz. On an area of more than 90 per cent of the city centre not a building was inhabitably. – The rebuilding of industry was disturbed by war reparations what the winner states demanded. After 1949 in Eastern Germany was built a “new modern industry” – slowly and with many difficulties owing to missing mineral ressources. The eastern parts of Germany needed import of row material. But the people were after war and destoying full of power and hope. - To develop innovative products and  secure a high quality standard – this is the task what handed over the ancestors our young generation. The Chemnitz University of Technology is standing in this inheritance.

The united Germany since 1990 brought a very other situation. The production in East Germany was in average of whole Germany on a low level. That means: The leading groups in almost every case of modern industry were situated in West Germany. These concerns didn´t support a rival in East. Only a small part of former producers maintain his position. An example for it is Kieselstein, a producer for wire solutions (the former Drahtziehwerk Grüna). Also in the former time the textile producer Malimo was very famous. Because of the east part of Germany became a “workbench” for concerns – many workers from here went to west to fulfil their task as specialists, earned money for their families. 

Immediately afterwards 1990 the population of Chemnitz cut down from about 300 thousand to 260 thousand. - But in a modern state there exists not only industrial production. Chemnitz of today is once again a competitive centre for technological innovation, some research centres developping. The fact of the matter is: since 2004, Chemnitz has been counted among the ten strongest growing cities of Germany every year. Our leader of the city management and all the optimistic people – like we seniors of the University – mean: Chemnitz was, and still is again, a city with a flourishing economy and inventive talent /6/. 

After some facts of general interest, a bit history and an optimistric sight into the future still a special theme. I want to give a statement how to use properties of historic significance which today are unnessesary for their original purpose. There are in Chemnitz two department stores in a modern-timeless proper style: the 1912 built “Tietz” and the by the famous Bauhaus architect Erich Mendelsohn 1929/30 finished “Schocken”. Since 2004 the “Tietz” has become “Chemnitz culture department store DAStietz” with a library, an art museum and an adult education centre and – not to forget the famous Petriefied Forest – a geological attraction.
There are a lot of old buildings in Chemnitz, which are converted as shops or museums.
It is worldwide an aim of communities with an industrial history like Chemnitz to find an useful way for old architecture: We heard relevant things by sightseeing or reading about our twin towns Manchester/England and Tampere/Finland. These cities (like Chemnitz) lost their historical importance but found a new role on cultural fields: the Spanish Bilbao with the European branche of Guggenheim Museum New York, the Italian Bologna and the Belgian Ghent (, the “Museum for Industry, Archeology and Textiles” is situated in an old cotton mill). Let´s ask our friends in Czech Republic and Poland too. Let´s look for examples of application of old objects to modern ones if we are travelling around the world!
Bibliographical reference:
/1/ Harry Weinert´s demonstration about industial development along river Zschopau
/2/ Horst Günther´s report “The development of textile machinery in Chemnitz”
/3/ see details in (Chemnitzer Modell, sorry in moment only in German)
/4/ about Richard Hartmann search in /5/
/5/ (Chemnitz Museum of industry)
/6/ (“Chemnitz – the city of modernity”) Industrialization in Saxony and Chemnitz

[ Edited Tue Feb 28 2012, 04:55pm ]
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Thu Apr 19 2012, 09:29pm
Registered Member #33
Joined: Fri Mar 09 2012, 12:02pm
Posts: 31

Hello Hans , i've just read your work , it's very interesting, I wish I could write in English so well!
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