Having arrived in the 19th century the industrial revolution in Saxony caused such extensive change that it equalled that of the 12th century development of the land during the High Middle Ages. A network of tracks spanned the countryside and connected production areas with residential areas. The railway set the industrial revolution rolling and time began to move with the machines that also determined jobs and people’s lives.
In order to lead Germany’s economy into the industrial revolution, an efficient workhorse had to be placed at the fore. Recognising this, the economist, Friedrich List campaigned passionately for the development of a rail network throughout Germany in 1833. It was among Leipzig businessmen and entrepreneurs that he found most of his potential supporters. In 1835 the construction of the first long-distance rail track in Germany began. Four years later, Germany’s first steam train „Saxonia“ set off on her maiden voyage from Dresden to Leipzig.
Professor Andreas Schubert constructed the engine in Dresden-Übigau based on machinery construction models from England.
At the end of the 18th century spinning machines were employed to mechanise the textile industry and machines and factories increasingly superseded handcraft and smaller manufacturers. The Ore Mountain valleys were the ideal location for machines driven by waterpower and steam engines later replaced the water wheels. Machine construction evolved with this invention.
A gentleman named Richard Hartmann recognised the fusion between industrial production and machine construction and his Hartmann Factory in Chemnitz produced spinning machines, weaving looms, steam and tool machines. In 1878 the machine factory had around 3000 employees and was one of the most successful machine construction companies. During the industrial age the employment of untrained alongside trained people, was new.
The theologist and social democrat Paul Göhre described monotone factory work as „ an exhausting occupation, draining on all strengths.“ The people worked 14 hour-a-day shifts for a meagre wage. Inadequate industrial safety led to accidents and absenteeism with no pay that drove families into existential poverty.
Growing wealth for the minority and increasing impoverishment of wider classes of the population were also repercussions of the industrial boom in Saxony.