The industrialization

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13. The industrialization

During the 19th century, economic development increasingly determined the fate and politics of the Sudetengermans. Entrepreneurship of the middle class, a good combination of inventiveness, circumspection and boldness made especially the North-Bohemian-Silesian people the forerunners of industrial progress. From early on, Sudetengerman businessmen and their co-workers participated in the development of technical innovations and began the building of machinery in their own land. Tremendous upswings took place in the Glass, porcelain and cloth industries. The '40s saw the beginning of railroad construction and public transportation facilitating the development of various manufacturing centers: Reichenberg - cotton and wool products, Trautenau and Mährisch-Schönberg - linenware, North-Moravia - silkware, Ore-Mountains - lace fabrics and toys of wood, Graslitz and Schönbach - musical instruments, Iser-Mountains - glass manufacture, Eagle-Mountains - spinning, brush making, West-Bohemia - wood and mother-of-pearl products, Southern Bohemian Forest - wood carving, Brüx/Dux and Giant Mountains - metal products, Aussig - the major chemistry complex in Central Europe, North-Bohemia - hosiery manufacture, Elbe-Valley - soap, candle and fat-surrogate manufacture, Bodenbach - chocolate products, Teplitz - largest plate glass manufacturing center in Europe, Maffersdorf - internationally known manufacture of weaved and knotted carpets. The Czech regions predominated in the manufacture of products based on agriculture, such as sugar, alcohol, beer and so on. The hard coal deposits at Kladno and Mährisch-Ostrau (Ostrava) provided a favorable basis for heavy industry. 

The industrialization was accompanied by a rapidly rising employment of low-wage labor, Czech as much as German. During the earlier years, this "fourth class" had to cope with dismal living conditions. Wages were low, bread almost a luxury and housing dreadful. The worst conditions prevailed in the coal mining regions. The Sudetengerman workers had the good fortune that many of the established crafts remained dependent on home labor. As difficult as it was to subsist on a minimal income, they were capable of preserving their families and retaining the attachment to their homes. Actual slums did not develop in the Sudetenland. Wage earners often tended a garden and kept goats and sometimes a pig.


The Sudetengerman share of industrial property 
in Czechoslovakia

The share of the listed industrial properties owned by Sudetengermans in relation to the total of these properties in the Czechoslovak Republic amounted to (in %):
Silk products industry 100 Paper industry 80
Textile trimmings manufacture 100 Cotton processing industry 75
Knitting ware manufacture 95 Rail-car manufacture 75
Tar-based industries 95 Electrotechnical industry 70
Bottle-glass manufacture 93 Lacquer and paint industry 70
Plate-glass 91 Inorganic chemical industry  70
Textile machinery manufacture  90 Hard coal mining 66
Button manufacture 90 Malt production 64
Mineral oil-based industry 90 Fertilizer manufacture 60
Glass jewelry 88 Wood products industry 60
Other glass products 86 Saw manufacture 55
Wool processing industry 85 Sugar manufacture 58
Lace manufacture 85 Candle manufacture 55
Silk-surrogate industry 80 Soap manufacture 50
Linen and jute industry 85 Spinning mills 50
Cement industry 80        
The listed figures refer to portions of properties within the Czechoslovak Republic owned by Sudetengermans at the time the proprietorships were founded. Not all were located in German-populated regions.
76 % of the total industrial production facilities of Austria-Hungary fell to Czechoslovakia in 1918. Most of these properties were located in the Sudetenlands.


Unfortunately, the industrialization transformed and spoiled portions of the countryside also in the Sudetenlands. Natural water supplies got polluted and forests suffered overexploitation. Also, the character farming villages underwent lasting changes. Loud noise and smoke filled the tranquil valleys. What the ancestors had created, the descendents often ruined wantonly in the name of the modern age. No wonder that socialistic and communistic ideas took hold among the working people. With Ferdinand Lassalle the political workers' movement began to spread. Associations were founded for mutual support, education, and also as groups similar to trade unions. Radicalism appeared too, which at first hampered the development of the workers' movement. Later on the Social Democratic Party emerged from these movements and found strong support, especially among the Sudetengermans. Since 1897, the Social Democrats were represented in the Reichsrat. The living conditions had improved in the meantime.


Copyright © by Inge Schwarz 1997 (Heimatstelle Maffersdorf) 
Copyright © by Anton Möller • 2005

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MAFFERSDORF - Marktgemeinde im Landkreis Reichenberg - SUDETENLAND