Station: [16] Iron Casting

M: The 19th century was dominated by industrialisation. We’ve chosen the example of iron casting to tell the story of how Offenbach developed into an industrial city.

F: During the Wars of Liberation against Napoleon from 1813 to 1815, the sense of a German national identity emerged. One wartime slogan was "Gold gab ich für Eisen" (I gave gold for iron). It called for people to donate gold and jewellery to finance the war. Donors were given iron trinkets in exchange. Iron jewellery became the fashion for all patriots, while the Iron Cross was the highest military honour. Cast iron art and iron jewellery symbolised the spirit of freedom and patriotism. 

M: During this period, numerous businesses making cast iron products were established in Offenbach. They made the exhibits on display here, items such as bowls and candlesticks. If you’re wondering what the oversize beetle is for – it’s a bootjack to help ease you out of your footwear. 

F: In 1816, Offenbach became part of the Grand Duchy of Hesse-Darmstadt. It lost its status as a small independent seat of power for the Counts of Isenburg. Instead, the city now became the Grand Duchy’s main industrial base.

M: By the mid-19th century, plain, patriotic jewellery and accessories were considered passé, and the more ostentatious precious metals, gold and silver, came back into fashion. Firms with ironworking skills turned their attention to making screws and machine parts. They formed the nucleus of the local metal construction industry. Until quite recently, companies in the metalworking industry reflected Offenbach’s former pre-eminence as a factory town. 

F: Offenbach’s great boom as an industrial city occurred after the German Empire was founded in 1871. In around 1800, some 6,000 people lived here, but by 1900, that number had grown to more than 50,000. Offenbach became a workers’ city. Today, it has a population of roughly 140,000 people from all over the world. And in the interim, Offenbach has become a city with a flourishing service industry.

Fotos: © Haus der Stadtgeschichte