Extract from the history of Carlsfeld

Carlsfeld on a postcard around 1900
Carlsfeld on a postcard around 1900

In contrast to some of the neighbouring towns, Carlsfeld is one of the newest to be founded in the Upper Western Ore mountains and was established by the Saxon elector Johann Georg II, who gave Veit Hans Schnorr von Carolsfeld (ennobled in 1687), a councillor and iron works owner, a large area of forest on which to build his iron works. At the time, the Carolsfeld works were the largest in Saxony. It contained 2 furnaces, 1 moulding station, 1 refining furnace, 1 sheet metal hammer station, 1 iron rod forge and 1 tinning station for tinning the sheet metal.

The mine owner Veit Hans Schnorr von Carolsfeld was considered to be prudent and energetic. He had excellent technical skills and was known as the “rich Schnorr.

The first house to be built was that of the Schnorrs. Until the church was built in Carlsfeld, masses and prayers took place there.

He built a grain mill, a malthouse and a brewery for his workers. As he had the right to “bake, slaughter animals, brew beer and serve drinks” he also built a tavern called “The Green Tree”.

Very soon there were 50 houses in Carlsfeld. The mine owner’s house was completed first, in 1680 (later the head forester’s house and dwelling). The first religious services were held for the workers, known as the “hammer folk”, in the works owner’s house. However, the pastor’s journey from Schönheide to Carlsfeld in the long, hard, snowy winters was too difficult and so Schnorr von Carolsfeld decided without further ado to have a church, a rectory and a school built, all paid for from his own pockets.

Trinitatis Church

Trinitatiskirche um 1900
Trinitatis Church in 1900

The church was built between 1684 and 1688 in the middle of the town and designed by Wolf Caspar von Klengel. George Bähr, who built the Frauenkirche in Dresden, is said to have worked on it as well. The church is a well-known landmark and is the oldest religious round church in Saxony. The altar, with life-size carved figures, is one of the most significant examples of the German High Baroque period. The pulpit and the organ loft were created by the Schneeberg sculptor Johann Heinrich Böhme. Images of the founder and his wife can be seen in the predella on the altarpiece. The images are covered with wooden slides and revealed once a year, during the Kirmes fair.

Sheet glass smelting works Weitersglashütte G.m.b.H

Tafelglashüttenwerke Weitersglashütte G.m.b.H
Sheet glass smelting works Weitersglashütte G.m.b.H

In 1683 he bought the smelting works founded in 1624 in Weitersglashütte which up till then had made simple plates of glass, beer and wine glasses, laboratory and pharmacy glass.

To this was added the production of colourful glass for church windows.

In 1739 the factory burnt down but was re-built and by 1750 was only making green glass and later traditional Bohemian plate glass.

In 1688 the first school in Carlsfeld was founded.

In 1711 Veit Hans Schnorr von Carolsfeld was the only supplier of Auer kaolinite for the production of Meißner porcelain. Veit Hans Schnorr von Carolsfeld died on 26 January 1715. He was laid to rest in Schneeberg by 400 miners.

At the beginning of the 19th century the Carlsfeld iron works was still supplying iron to nine local workshops, pin and nail forges and blacksmiths. However, when English sheet metal flooded the market in 1820, the Carlsfeld hammers fell silent, as did all other iron works in the Ore Mountains. At this time Carlsfeld had 958 residents (in Aue in 1815 there were only 711 residents).

After the iron works closed Carlsfeld became a glass-making location. In 1829 production of wall clocks and railway clocks started in the old iron works buildings. However, this did not last long.

In 1848 the Saxon state decided to build a mill in the district of Wilzschmühle.

Glass works factory Glashütten-Werke Carlsfeld G.m.b.H.

Glashütten-Werke Carlsfeld G.m.b.H
Glass works factory Glashütten-Werke Carlsfeld G.m.b.H.

In 1840, the manufacturer Karl Friedrich Hermann Rockstroh founded another glass works factory in Carlsfeld which was taken over by Arno von Vultejus in 1870. He built a second factory with a second oven, brought in better equipment and enlarged the glass grinding shop. It was mainly ink bottles, pharmacy bottles and similar products that were made here. Around 80 employees were involved in production.
In 1887 Mr L. Friedrich took over the factories. Gas furnaces replaced the wood furnaces and glass grinding was considerably expanded and powered by steam. The number of employees also increased accordingly to 200. Products now mainly included more delicate perfume bottles, pasta jars and chemical containers. One of the factory’s best specialities was opal glass.
Amongst others, millions of the world-famous Odol bottles came from these factories.
In 1890 Carlsfeld now had 1628 residents.

Harmonica Fabrication in Carlsfeld

Haus am Bach (Zimmermannsche Haus)
House on the river (Zimmermann’s house)

In 1854 A. Friedrich Zimmermann started making accordions in Carlsfeld based on the 1829 Viennese design.

The Zimmermann factory was located at Hauptstr. 45. This accordion factory was where the production of bandoneons and accordions, sold far beyond Germany’s borders, took place.

When his sons emigrated to America, he sold the factory in 1864 to the businessman E. Louis Arnold (Sig. ELA).

The bandonion concertina & fabrication of E. Louis Arnold

Bandoneon and concertina factory in 1890

Under the new leadership of E. Louis Arnold production increases very rapidly and when the new school was built in 1888/89, the factory was moved into the old school.

In 1910, at a time of increasing mechanisation in the industry, the Alfred Arnold (Sig. AA) accordion factory was founded - a new, modern factory building. The results were popular with customers and were known for a superb sound as well as being high quality. In some years as much as 90% of production was exported.

Today, particularly in South and Central America, especially Argentina, these instruments provide the main sound in the tango.

In 1895 the embroidery factory “Viktor Sommer” was founded. Initially they mainly produced trimming for clothing, belts, hats and silk embroidery for the textile industry and then later finished products such as cushions, blankets and wall hangings.

The Wilkau-Haßlau-Schönheide-Carlsfeld narrow-gauge railway (built in Carlsfeld 1896 – 1897) made the transport of raw materials and finished products much easier.

Narrow-gauge railway from Wilkau to Carlsfeld

The Wilkau-Haßlau-Schönheide-Carlsfeld narrow-gauge railway (built in Carlsfeld 1896 – 1897) made the transport of raw materials and finished products much easier.

In 1907 the Carlsfeld glass works built a third factory with a furnace. The number of employees rose to 270. As well as steam power, the factory was powered by electricity from its own headquarters. Annual production was around 18 million pieces. As well as Europe, sales were particularly strong in Brazil, Argentina, Mexico and India. More than 4000 different types of bottles were produced, involving their own draughtsmen and designers. The glass works had the latest equipment, including pressing machines and compressed air etc. There was an attached mechanical workshop for producing moulds, tools and utensils. The glass grinding shop was expanded again. The factory had its own health insurance and savings fund as well as workers’ houses.

In the meantime the glass works in Weitersglashütte had to file for bankruptcy. In 1913 it was bought by the glass works factory in Carlsfeld and no longer produced plate glass, only hollow glass and thus became a subsidiary of the Carlsfeld glass works factory.

Carlsfeld had become an industrial location. Once the main street, post office, new school, businesses, railway station, town hall and two-storey apartment building in the centre had been built, it was virtually a town. Certainly around the turn of the century, hikers and those looking for somewhere to relax described Carlsfeld as an idyllic summer health resort. Thanks to its location, guaranteeing snow, Carlsfeld was already known as a winter sports paradise.

Winter Sports 1900 in Carlsfeld

Winter sports resort of Carlsfeld in 1900

In 1894 the teacher and cantor Götz had a pair of skis made and was immediately copied by the local youth.

In 1897 he organise the first “ski festival” and in 1900 there were reports as far away as Berlin about the “famous Carlsfeld ski races”, with 120 participants.

The first “international” sports festival with ski jumping took place in 1913.

Flood and dam construction

Wilzsch flood 07.08.1908

On 07 August 1908 there was a huge flood in Carlsfeld. After three days of rain the Wilzschbach stream flowing through Carlsfeld became a raging river, badly damaging some houses.

In order to regulate the water level and provide flood protection it was decided to build a dam.

The 8 houses on Weiterswiese were therefore demolished and in 1926 – 1929 the dam was built.

The Weiterswiese dam is the highest drinking water reservoir in Saxony. (Top of the wall 905m NN, capacity of 3,013 million cubic metres)

During the First World War (1914 - 1918) many companies came to a standstill or continued with only a few employees. Production fell and unemployment in the population rose significantly. The inflation of 1923 and the global economic crisis (1929 – 1932) brought more misery and hardship to the workers in Carlsfeld. Often the meagre weekly pay was only enough to buy a quarter pound of margarine, 5 pounds of potatoes or 2 eggs. Many families fell into poverty. Fathers had to go to the employment office in Eibenstock to collect their “stamp”. This unemployment benefit was 4 DM per week. The journey to Carlsfeld to Eibenstock (8km there and 8km back) was done on foot.

After the First World War the glass works in Weitersglashütte was shut down. In 1930 all of the workshops in the glass works were fitted with semi-automatic machines. The time of hand-blown glass had come to an end. In 1933 the first melting tank was incorporated into the process.

The economic situation had only just started to improve by 1939 when, following the outbreak of the Second World War, production in all factories dropped off again.

Local industry was not important for the war effort and so was cut back more and more. Men and women were drafted to go and work in the arms industry in many parts of the Schwarzenberg area and even to go and far as Dessau and Leipzig. Boys and girls had to join the Arbeitsdienst (Labour Service) and men the German Armed Forces. In 1941 French and Soviet prisoners of war were assigned to forced labour in the sawmill. There was not enough food for the population. In the final days of the war a plane had to make an emergency landing (behind the old football pitch).
After the Second World War and the division of Germany, new life was injected into the area with the foundation of SDAG Wismut. Hundreds of men were billeted in Carlsfeld, lived there and worked there for many years. Production increased again.

Under the then leadership of the SED Party, local smallholders formed the LPG (an agricultural cooperative) which started in 1952 with communal hen-keeping. In 1954 they built a pigsty and in 1958 a barn for 65 animals.

The Louis Arnold bandoneon factory was nationalized and in 1959 it was merged with the publicly owned Klingenthaler accordion factory finally followed by the subsidiary in Carlsfeld in 1964.

1964 saw the introduction of a new and completely different branch of industry in Carlsfeld. The publicly owned injection pump component factory, Wolfspfütz, started production of pump components for diesel engines. Initially, the space previously occupied by the Alfred Arnold bandoneon factory was used for production. Skilled accordion makers, tuners, key and bellows makers now became lathe operators, grinders and metalworkers.

VEB Renak Factory Reichenbach

VEB Renak Factory Reichenbach

In 1965 the injection pump factory was taken over by the publicly owned Renak-Werke Reichenbach (Reichenbach hub and couplings factories). As working conditions became more and more difficult to a lack of space, a new factory building was built in 1980/81.

Investments of 90 million East German marks resulted in more production buildings and a boiler house. A 50m chimney was built on the boiler house. Despite many protests and action by local residents, building went ahead and blighted the view of the whole town.

At the end of 1988 production was moved into the new buildings with modern machines; its workforce of 285 employees made up around 60 – 70% of the working population of Carlsfeld.

The Viktor Sommer embroidery factory and the Carlsfeld glass works were also nationalized and came under public ownership in 1972; a year later the Carlsfeld glass works was merged with the publicly owned Glaswerk Olbernhau.

Neues Glaswerk 1994
New glass works 1994

On 29.10.1979 production of curved domestic glass was moved into a new facility in Carlsfeld with a modern production building and an office / staff building.

The decorative bowls, plates and dishes soon became sought-after items. The facility mainly exported to the East, the West and America. It was only on the domestic market that there were “shortages”.

In January 1990, after the reunification of Germany, the then mayor Olaf Berlin stepped down. In February 1990 community leaders formed a voluntary council made up of 8 local residents.

When the State Security was disbanded in March 1990 property was returned to the Carlsfeld community. The glass works and the embroidery factory were privatised.

The Renak factory was closed due to lack of orders and taken over by the Treuhand privatization agency. After 27.10.1993 a fruit and vegetable trader and a food technology manufacturer moved into the factory.

State-recognized resort 01.10.1987

On 01.10.1987 Carlsfeld was named an “officially approved health resort”.

The tourist board association that has existed since 07 March 1992 organises the ski festival, the annual carnival in Carlsfeld and the bandoneon festival in October.

On 10 November 1996 residents voted for Carlsfeld to be included in the district of Eibenstock.