Conducts research and collects data on the global history of labour, workers, and labour relations

The Weavers

5 June 1844
Poster for Gerhart Hauptmanns play Die Weber by Emil Orlik, 1897
Wikimedia Commons

In early June 1844, hundreds of cottage workers, armed with clubs and fence posts, stormed the homes and business of their manufacturers in Silesia (Central Europe). Cotton weavers were protesting against continued wage cuts and the hiring of workers from other villages. The Silesian Weavers' Revolt of 1844 became famous both in Germany and abroad. Even today, the Silesian weaver is a symbol of a worker pauperised through no fault of his own. Karl Marx interpeted the revolt as the long-awaited precursor to the organized German workers' movement. Heinrich Heine wrote his Weberlied, a lyric celebrating the weavers as the prophets of the coming revolution. German literature was inundated with poetry, novels and dramas about the weavers, the most well-known being Gerhart Hauptmann's play Die Weber.

Read more? Christina von Hodenberg, 'Strategies and Status in the Silesian Weaver Revolt of 1844' in: Rebellious Families ed. by Jan Kok (New York 2002)