Sound of the Big City
Chemnitz in the Empire
2021 marks the 150th anniversary of the foundation of the German Empire, which existed from 1871 to 1918 / 1919. It was during this period that the town of Chemnitz was transformed into a Saxon industrial metropolis, a development driven by an unimaginable momentum. With 100,000 inhabitants in 1883, the town formally crossed the threshold to become a city or »Großstadt«– by 1900 that number had increased in ten-year increments by another 100,000 people. Chemnitz had become a boomtown. A splendid city was born. The outlying areas were taken possession of both by densely populated workers’ quarters and by luxurious residential areas for the more privileged classes. Among other concerns, the economy, politics, administration, infrastructure and architecture had to keep pace with that industrial strong growth. The German Empire was thus one of the most formative periods in the history of the city of Chemnitz – in a positive sense, as regards the internal development of the city over several decades, and also in a negative sense, as every single household suffered the consequences of the privation caused by the First World War. The emperor’s abdication and the November Revolution in 1918 finally brought about the end of the monarchy and the move towards republican-democratic conditions of government.
A vast number of previously unpublished historical photographs, elaborately painted shooting targets, ladies’ formal gowns and colourful uniforms all bring the image of the people in the city streets to life, and to this day provide a vivid testimony to the civic discourse on progress at the time. The anniversary exhibition with its broad range of objects from the Schloßbergmuseum’s collection gives today’s visitors a chance to experience the way of life of those past decades.
The exhibition was created together with the Chemnitz Industrial Museum, the Municipal Archive, and Chemnitz University of Technology.