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Revolutionary turmoils and the beginnings of the great industry in Elbląg

The second half of the nineteenth century was a time of development of industry in Elbląg. The most important factory in the town was that of the Schichau company, a machine factory also engaged in shipbuilding since the 1850s. But other companies were also active in Elbląg: Loeser and Wolff, which produced cigars, Komnick’s factory for agricultural machinery, the brewery Englischer Brunnen, the dairy Schroeter and the metal factories of Neufeldt and Zillgit and Lemke. The industrial boom led to the emergence of a new social class, namely industrial workers. In 1865, 108 industrial enterprises in Elbląg employed about 3000 people. At that time the city had 27 000 inhabitants. The ranks of proletariat of Elbląg increased as the rural population, for example from Masuria, flocked to the city in search of work. People from the countryside, especially women, also found employment as house servants. One of them was Nitschmann’s maid, Caroline Leber who came from the village of Kadyny. Elbląg also became a destination for many representatives of intellectual elites (civil servants, teachers, doctors) from other provincial centers and even from Central Germany. They often considered Elbląg as a place where they could springboard their careers and then move to bigger cities.
Illustration (from top)
1. The locomotive factory of the company F. Schichau, the view from about 1893. 100 Jahre Schichau 1837-1937, Elbing 1937.
2. The interior of a production hall of the Loeser and Wolff company.
3. Workers of the cigar factory in characteristic clothing.
The source for figures 2 and 3: Special supplement of Deutsche Tabak-Zeitung, No. 12, Elbing 1899.